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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Perform for free? When and Why (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Father Photius
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My rules for performing for free 1) no entertainer on the program gets paid, if they do, I get full fee. 2) It has to be a charity I support. 3) If it is a venue in which I know area magicians earn their living from (Blue and Gold Banquets, parties, Birthday parties, Library shows, I won't do it. I'm not taking a paying gig away from someone who earns their living doing this. 4) It is entirely on my terms, when I play, what tricks I do, how long I play and where in the program I come. Plus date and time have to be convenient to me.
Doing shows at the VA hospital, or the childrens hospital, or something like that is fine if it is something you want to do. But every show costs me money, and I'm not into giving a lot of it away without a good reason to do so.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
Lawrence O
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Quote:
On 2008-08-11 10:40, ryansmagic wrote:
...when is it OK to perform for no pay?

Here is my deal. I am employed full time and do not rely on any magic income. I perform probably one a month, more aroud the holidays. My gigs are by word of mouth from customers, or other performers...

What are your thoughts?


I'm in a comparable position.
Just remember than every time we perform without being paid, we are suggesting that it is possible to see magic for free and we dammage the market for the professional magicians.
What I do is that I perform magic only for people who also book (now and then) a professional magician that I'm happy to refer, building a strong image about him and what he does (I made several friends in this way). When this seems difficult I tell my friends that I'll share a magic act with them if they, later in the week, take me and my wife to dinner at a restaurant that I indicate where a professional magician performs.
I don't know if it's good enough, but this is what I'm doing to try and be fair with my professional peers.
Magic is the art of proving impossible things in parallel dimensions that can't be reached
RJE
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Every request I get to perform free is given consideration. It doesn't mean I'll do them, but I consider it. Some I reject quickly, some I stew over for a while.

I can't agree that doing a free show is harmful to your business and reputation as a statement of fact. In some cases, it may well prove to be an albatross around your neck. In other cases, it may very well open doors.

Two stories.

First, an agent asked if I could help her out and do an industry showcase for free. She said that it would be very promising in making contacts for future shows. Got to the venue, nice stage and sound and lighting all very professional. Unfortunately, the audience was anything but professional. It was a licenced event in a hall without seats. It was 150 drunken adults milling around in small groups that had no intention of watching a show. In fairness, I don't think they even knew a show was scheduled, let alone that one was happening.

Then, a few weeks ago, another agent that I had done a NATO forces show tour overseas for called and asked if I would do a 15 minute free spot in a variety show for her. There were going to be a number of performers from the tour there and all volunteering their time.

I said, sure. I thought it would be a fun excuse to get together with these talented people again and that was that. Didn't even ask what the charity was.

A few days later, the same agent called up and handed me two very nice paid corporate gigs with all the perks.

So, for me, you never know and never say never.
Dannydoyle
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Quote:
On 2008-09-06 09:02, JackScratch wrote:
Here's the trick. Performing for free devalues the trade.


This could not be more wrong. What someone else does or does not do does not devalue me in any way shape or form. It does not affect me in the least.

It may devalue YOU personally, or the person doing it, but it does not have any impact on ME.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
tommy
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Last night we went to dinner party, my friend cooked us all a beautiful meal... for free. It must have really peeved them restaurant owners. Smile
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
ryansmagic
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Quote:
On 2008-09-27 07:57, tommy wrote:
Last night we went to dinner party, my friend cooked us all a beautiful meal... for free. It must have really peeved them restaurant owners. Smile


I am sure the restaurant owners are probably feeling that pinch as well.
Ryan Parsons
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vincentmusician
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Hey. Performers can do what ever they want. However, Here is my experience with doing free shows. A long time ago, I did a free show for a Library. The parents took off and left me alone with the kids. The staff were missing in action!
The boys were running around insulting me and one tried to knock my table over! So never again! To those of you that want to work for nothing, good luck, but you won't catch this Cowboy doing freebies anymore ever! I found that all free shows get you are more free shows! Cheers!
Dannydoyle
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Dude you just answered this on a new thread, then you dredge up a 13 year old thread to answer exactly the same question?
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
George Ledo
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Going thru this thread again, a few questions came up for those who want to do free performances:

Do you think that's the only way you'll get to perform?

Do you think "Well, I'm not a pro: I'm an amateur and magic is just a hobby, so I don't need to charge"?

Are you afraid you won't get the gig if you want to charge?

Do you think your time isn't valuable?

There are other questions, but you get the idea.
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funsway
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Hen I was performing as a kid I could get all of the party gigs I wanted but soon discover that many of the kids were the same
because the parents saw the reaction of the kids at one party and wished to learn the learning and astonishment.

This mean that every show had to be different (at least 50%) and I learned I was not charging ENOUGh to cover the cost of new props and tricks -
even though I made many myself. It is easy to forget the overhead cost even if you don't figure your time is worth anything.

So, the notion that a free performance will get you other bookings is trap. if you are lousy you won't get other bookings.
If you are good you just lost the use of many good effects.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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George Ledo
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Another question popped up after reading funsway's post, especially the part about overhead costs.

Are you performing the free show as an entertainer, or for your own amusement? IOW, are you doing it for your audience's enjoyment, or to show how clever you are?
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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Dannydoyle
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Too many performers do shows for the second reason paid or not.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
funsway
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Well, that is better than creating a computer virus or invasive app just to show how clever you are.
At least live performing magician can see some reaction to their efforts.

I am begging to shift my perspective from "try for the best possible magic" to
"any live performance is wonderful as long as a weapon is not involved."
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
longhaired1
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The majority of my work is as a magician / ringmaster for a circus. We have a very robust performance schedule (paid professional gigs) and yes, we do a number of non-paid shows throughout the year. But we don't do it for "exposure", we legitimately want to give back to certain organizations and causes we believe in.

We are a professional performing circus and also operate a non-profit foundation offering circus training to everyone regardless of ability to pay. On two occasions Cirque Du Soleil invited 40 of our students to see their show free of charge as well as arranged for them to meet the cast members and producers of the show.

So the concept of "performing for free" is not in and of itself a bad thing. Being taken advantage of is though.
tommy
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From French amateur "one who loves, lover".

The amateur magician gives performances of magic for the love of it. However, one cannot rationally explain love because, like magic, it is a relationship.

The problem with being an amateur is that one will likely have all the faults and deficiencies of a non-professional, which is due to spending most of one’s time making a living doing something else.

If you have all the faults and deficiencies of a non-professional who is going pay you anyhow?


Smile
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
funsway
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Quote:
On Dec 10, 2021, tommy wrote:

The problem with being an amateur is that one will likely have all the faults and deficiencies of a non-professional, which is due to spending most of one’s time making a living doing something else.

If you have all the faults and deficiencies of a non-professional who is going pay you anyhow?
Smile


and if someone spends all of their time not doing something else (a professional?), why would their myopic view of life be of interest to anyone?
Oh yes, I forgot, It's all about being entertaining people who can't entertain themselves, right?

What about the "faults and deficiencies" of the professional? Why is "making a living" the standard for what "being professional" should mean?

I guess "professional" is as slippery a term as magic.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
Dannydoyle
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All l should do as they wish as they see best for them. Just do it for the right reasons is all.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Mindpro
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There are far more differences between amateurs and professionals than just money or income. For some reason this is difficult for amateurs to understand.
funsway
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Quote:
On Dec 12, 2021, Mindpro wrote:
There are far more differences between amateurs and professionals than just money or income. For some reason this is difficult for amateurs to understand.


Yup, and to divide people into any artificially contrived groups is problematic and often prejudicial. Money is just one arbitrary standard.

"being professional" should also not be linked to income or the desire for same, something many claiming to be professionals do not seem to understand.
Having expensive props is not a measure of being professional either. Putting "professional" on a business card does not make it so.

There was a time in which one major difference between these classification was the number of magic effects/routines mastered.
An amateur could be the best in the world at the one Effect they cherished. Many charging a fee for their antics should be called something else.

The new class of magicians of the "buy today, perform tomorrow" bent neither love magic nor are professional about their practice or audience engagement.

Why the need for classification at all? If you are a "for hire entertainer of the mystic arts," then work at being the best you can be at that endeavor.
Refusing to perform for pay does not make one "not a professional." But that term is very equivocal in common usage - and therefor should be avoided.

Just opinions, of course. A person has a right to call themselves a professional for any silly reason. It is claiming someone else is not a professional that is the problem.

The terms "amateur" and "professional" should be compliments. Saying "I am a magician" should be a self compliment.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
Dannydoyle
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Quote:
On Dec 13, 2021, funsway wrote:
Quote:
On Dec 12, 2021, Mindpro wrote:
There are far more differences between amateurs and professionals than just money or income. For some reason this is difficult for amateurs to understand.



Just opinions, of course. A person has a right to call themselves a professional for any silly reason. It is claiming someone else is not a professional that is the problem.

The terms "amateur" and "professional" should be compliments. Saying "I am a magician" should be a self compliment.


Actually no it is not. In reality it is not about what you call yourself, it is about how others perceive you.

Lots of amateurs want to make excuses to call themselves professional. Kind of silly really. In the end who cares? If the self aggrandizing is needed go ahead it hurts nobody. If it makes one feel better go ahead. It also doesn’t fool anyone either.

In the end no matter how much you are paid it is the way others perceive you and the overall experience that decides if you are or are not professional in their eyes. The rest is just conversation.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
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