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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Do part time pros and amateurs hurt the business of magic? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Al Angello
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I spent two years of my wayward youth the Carolinas, and I am quite famillar with southern hospitality. Perhaps there is something in the water down there that makes you all so friendly, but it auint happening here. We have a SAM old boys club, and a IBM old boys club. Fortunetly there is Marc DeSouza's house where Marc puts on great lectures quite frequently. It is a learning environment that I look forward to attending as often as possible. Marc charges $20 a lecture and it is well worth the money to spend my time productively.
HAVE FUN
Al Angello
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Jamie D. Grant
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Well, I'm a part time (for now) pro and I would like to think that I'm not hurting the business of magic...

Jamie D. Grant
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NJJ
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To jamie and others...

Just to clarify my position, I am NOT saying that part timers are unprofessional or poor quality but rather that many (NOT all) part timers drive down the price of magicians because they're goal is to do magic shows NOT to make a living.

Yes, I know there are full timers who under charge
Yes, I know that there are part timers who charge proper fees.

But based on my experience of talking to about 40-50 part timers and pros, perhaps 80% of part timers under charge as opposed to only 20% of full timers.
Al Angello
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Jamie
I was a part timer for 12 years before I quit my day job. We like you my friend, and we think you are one of us. I guess what I was saying is, different people look for different experiences from magic, some guys just like to get out of the house for that one night a month. I don't care how many performances you do a year, if you are serious about the art then you and I are on the same page.
HAVE FUN
Al Angello
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
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Jamie D. Grant
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I'd like to get your guys's (I just made that word up, I think) opinion on this:

Rates

Do you think that formula is appropiate?

jamie
TRICK OF THE YEAR: Industrial Revelation, BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Approach, The AIP Bottle, and my new book Scenic 52, can all be found over here: SendWonder.com
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Tony Iacoviello
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I am a part-time professional (as Gene coined the term), and as such, I pick and choose when I want to work. Not needing to cover a bottom line gives me the freedom to charge what I wish, and I charge more than the competiton. I have had a few occasions where I was told that so-and-so would do the event for less. So I advised them to book so-and-so. I'm selling my services, I've worked hard and long to refine what I do, I am a professional, I act and charge accordingly. I set my rates and stick with them, what others charge has nothing to do with me, when I agree to work for a client, they are getting me. I consider myself the best at what I do and expect to be treated that way.

So my answer is, if the person acts as a professional and is ready to perform, no. If the person is either not ready to perform, or acts unprofessionally (cutting rates to get the job counts here) then yes. It does not matter if this person calls himself (or herself) a professional or not, or if they are full time or part time.

But this whole topic is immaterial. What we are selling is not a magic act, mentalism act, or what-have-you, we are selling (or at least renting) ourselves. What others charge for their services do not matter, they are not selling us. It is a totally different, and possibly inferior product.

Tony
NJJ
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Good on you Tony!
MagicbyCarlo
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Tony, well said. Professionalism is a state of mind and being. One definition is: Participating for gain in an activity often engaged in by amateurs.

I don't think that what anyone else charges has any impact on my business. I charge what I need to make a living. In fact I've found that raising my prices often leads to others raising their prices. Those that want MY show will pay the price; those that want A show will shop the market and go cheap. There is room for many levels of quality and pricing in magic. Charge what you think you're worth and people will think you're worth it, it's that simple. I hear people justify low prices by saying that they won't get hired for a higher price. Well it's true that if you don't offer anything more than every other magician charging $175 a show in your area then that's what you're worth; but if your show is unique or better than most, you can charge more. So I don't think that anyone out there doing shows, hurts the business, in fact they may push the market and magic to new levels and force us to be better than average to compete. To my mind that’s a good thing!
Carlo DeBlasio
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icentertainment
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Professional means you get plain pain and simple

some are part time and some full time

Some are part time that charge so much they only do it once a month---what are these people full time or part time- the amount of money they make is enough to live off yet they only work once a month
NJJ
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I'm not even talking about where full time performers being more professional then part time or even amateurs. What I am suggesting is that when somebody doesn't rely on the income from magic as their main source of income, they can (and often do) charge a lot less.

For example, Canberra has two roll out lawn companies. One is run by the Anglican church and has volunteers who come and work for room and board for six months. The other is a business. One church group almost put the other group out of business because they only wanted to make a small profit and didn't have to pay their workers.

Part time professionals can afford to do the same thing. I am moving to Melbourne where 90% of the performers are part time. About 80% of those guys are under charging IMO.

These are also GREAT performers.
Bill Nuvo
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If I have understood this NJJ, you are really wondering about the part timers hurting your business and not the performing business. You have said these (some) are great performers. So they are keeping the performing business in good standing by doing quality shows. They are charging less than you would for a similar quality show. This is a healthy business practice. It is called competition.

Whether you agree with their pricing or not is irrelevent. Customers are paying for services of quality performers. That is good business. It help prevents "price-fixing". It keeps magic in high standing as good entertainment.

It doesn't seem fair, but in reality it is because that's business.

Is it right for any business to have lower prices than the competition? Of course it is.

Where I used to live there were two theatre companies. One was a big successful world famous theatre company -The Stratford Festival of Canada. The other in surrounding areas is Drayton Entertainment. Both have various theatres. Both have different budgets (as the two different companies you gave as an example).
Both put on professional shows using professional people. The Stratford Festival charges more (regular ticket pricing) for shows than Drayton. Does the Drayton pricing hurt the Stratford business? Yes and No. Some people who don't get to see quality theatre can afford Drayton's pricing but not Stratford's. But on the same account, Stratford's shows have a bigger theatres, and more famous actors/actresses. So this is how they compete. They have increased their set designs for the musicals to be more extravagant at times. They have to make it seem like they are bigger and better. Also to compete, they have certain shows, and also certain target groups that they give a discount for. Their profit has not been as big, but they are competing also with other big productions elsewhere, like in Toronto.

Both thearte companies are surviving and have a friendly competition. They market to different markets at time (Drayton, being more SW Ontario, where Stratford is more North America). So both are good for the business.
NJJ
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Quote:
On 2006-08-29 20:00, mrbilldentertainer wrote:
If I have understood this NJJ, you are really wondering about the part timers hurting your business and not the performing business. You have said these (some) are great performers. So they are keeping the performing business in good standing by doing quality shows. They are charging less than you would for a similar quality show. This is a healthy business practice. It is called competition.

Whether you agree with their pricing or not is irrelevent. Customers are paying for services of quality performers. That is good business. It help prevents "price-fixing". It keeps magic in high standing as good entertainment.

It doesn't seem fair, but in reality it is because that's business.

Is it right for any business to have lower prices than the competition? Of course it is.

Where I used to live there were two theatre companies. One was a big successful world famous theatre company -The Stratford Festival of Canada. The other in surrounding areas is Drayton Entertainment. Both have various theatres. Both have different budgets (as the two different companies you gave as an example).
Both put on professional shows using professional people. The Stratford Festival charges more (regular ticket pricing) for shows than Drayton. Does the Drayton pricing hurt the Stratford business? Yes and No. Some people who don't get to see quality theatre can afford Drayton's pricing but not Stratford's. But on the same account, Stratford's shows have a bigger theatres, and more famous actors/actresses. So this is how they compete. They have increased their set designs for the musicals to be more extravagant at times. They have to make it seem like they are bigger and better. Also to compete, they have certain shows, and also certain target groups that they give a discount for. Their profit has not been as big, but they are competing also with other big productions elsewhere, like in Toronto.

Both thearte companies are surviving and have a friendly competition. They market to different markets at time (Drayton, being more SW Ontario, where Stratford is more North America). So both are good for the business.




You really the hit the nail on the head with that one.

Under a consumer capitalist society, everyone is competition and has the right to charge whatever they want for their services. Whether this a morally or ethically fair or correct system is a debate for another day,

However, businesses undercharging CAN damage a particular industry (and not just those of the top paid people). Take Home Shopping. The usual formula is, Company A puts out a product and charges $100 for them. Company B creates a cheaper versions for $20 which sells in discount stores. Company A stops advertising them because they can't compete. Company B stops selling them because Company has stopped advertising.

But you are right, I'm REALLY talking about my business.
Bill Nuvo
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NJJ, I am glad I understood what you were really saying.

Of course there is the moral/ethical issue, but then that too depends on your point of view and you will never get a general conscensus on it.

It is true that through the example you gave about company A and B that the business is hurt. But then again, another company/person/entrepeneur will see that void and pick up on it. Business will find a way (kinda like life will find a way, the quote from Jurassic Park).

One also has to take in the fact that their are more potential clients out there every day. Our world population is growing. So worrying about others is kinda pointless.

But then on the other hand, some consumers have become a little more careful in how the spend their money. With more people fighting for the same resources, they may only spend a certain amount and won't exceed that.

But then on the third hand...because they are spending money more wisely they can be buying the better quality things.

Obviously with each consumer it is a different story, and it is our job (whether we charge $120 OR $250 for a show) to sell ourselves and answer our customers' needs. Sometimes that need is for quality entertainment at a cheaper rate. If we can't do that, then it is up to our competition to do that. Ultimately one has to live and deal with their own pricing and not worry about others.
Zamboni
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I remember when I entered the industry I had no idea what to charge. So I asked around other performers to get a baseline, not so I could undercut them but so I didn't undersell myself. I think many mgicians just need to know that their proffession can be well paid to encourage them to raise their prices. As I heard in a podcast the other day its the magician who is charging $10,000 a show who is doing us a favour not the one working for drinks.
Whilst working together on prices is a win/win situation for all magicians in Australia we unfortunately have an organisation called the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) which frowns on 'price fixing'. So anyway Nicholas, what do you charge?
JackScratch
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The only effect that knowing there is a magician charging has on anyone else is showing them that it is possible to charge that fee successfuly. It does not get them any closer to doing so. I can assure you that my fee, which has been soundly attacked in the past, has no efect on what David Copperfield charges, nor does his fee have any effect on what I charge. Yet we are both magicians. We are both in the same business.
NJJ
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These particular part time professionals DO hurt my business by lowering their prices.

However, I would argue that undercharging (by ANYONE) hurts the industry in general. It won't destroy it but it will keep magic down.

I strongly disagree with the idea that we should charge in a vacuum and ignore what other people are doing and charging.

Jack Scratch points out it is useful for setting new fees for new products in new markets to look at other performers.

Also, by noticing a rise in the cost of cheap performers you can adjust your marketing, pricing and products to nip it in the bud (and I'm NOT talking about lowering prices to match theirs).
jamesbond
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Bottom line you need to answer the question WHY are you worth more... Just because you are full time pro?? Sorry but that's not a real benefit in many clients' eyes. You see, in any market there are always people who want the cheapest - if you want to compete for their business go right ahead, but let me just tell it sucks... Sounds like exactly what you are doing... They will always complain and grind you to the ground and treat you like a "trick monkey" and not the PERFORMER that you should be.

I WANT the partimers to take these types of customers and so should you if you are serious about making some real $$$ in this business. I always thank in my heart to a client that went to the guy who charges the lowest, because in 99% these clients are pain in the butt. My motto is "bad client is worse than no client" and believe me the client who considers $$$ as the only indicator for decision IS a bad client at least financially speaking...

BUT!!!

There are also people out there who drive BMW's, Mercedeces etc. and believe me they do NOT consider price the only decision making ingredient... If you just want a "car" you can pick up one for under a grand and might even get some decent service out of it if you are lucky... but your job is to explain to the client that there is a "KIA" and there is a "Mercedes" - MARKETING.

The fact that these partimers are hurting you can only show two/three things: your market is very small, your marketing is not projecting the right image and/or your show is not that "hot" - people calling b/c they got a referral or saw YOU and they want YOU, because they can see QUALITY... Sounds like you might need to work on your marketing and or show... How many refferals so you get do you track it???

Let me know. Hope this helps, just my two cents...

Bond...James Bond
NJJ
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James- No one said Full Time Pro is worth more then part time. Just that part timers can afford to charge less.
Neale Bacon
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I am in sort of a unique position, in that I am a part time pro who WAS a full timer and went back to part time.

I am every bit as professional as the full timers I know (and a LOT more professional than some full timers I know, but that's another story)

I have kept my fees in line with the full timers as much as I can so I don't undercut anyone, including myself.

Like others have said, I don't worry about the competition and if someone says they can get so-and-so cheaper, I give them full permission to hire so and so.

My father was an upholsterer before he retired. People used to complain about how much hand crafter furniture costed so he had a sign in his shop I always remember -

If you want top quality oats you pay a top quality price, but if you want oats that have already been through the horse, well they are a lot cheaper.
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Al Angello
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If you can't take the heat get out of the kitchen. McDonalds has positions open all the time offering job security, and regular hours. If BoBo the clown is taking jobs away from me then I should conclude that I must really suck, and it's time for a career change.
IT'S CALLED FREE ENTERPRISE
Al Angello
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