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Philemon Vanderbeck
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Seattle, WA
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I have a magician friend who is interested in doing school assembly shows.

A couple of questions:

How much should he charge for an hour-long show? $300-$400?

How does he go about booking them? Is there a specific contact at a school he should call? What sort of promo packet should he send them? Does the show need to have an overall "message"?

Thanks in advance for your help.
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
That Creepy Magician
"I use my sixth sense to create the illusion of possessing the other five."
RayBanks
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See if he can get a copy of The Bobo Magic Show by J D Bobo (Yes THAT Bobo). It has a lot of information about how he performed and booked school shows. It may be a tad bit datd but the info is still good with some updating for inflation, etc.

I got mine from Daytona Magic or H & R Books
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Scott F. Guinn
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"Great Scott!" aka "Palms of Putty" & "Poof Daddy G"
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$300 is VERY low for an hour show of ANY type!

Contact person depends on the school district. Sometimes it's the principal, but sometimes there's a programs person at the district admin office. If you can do a sfaety or ed themed show, it is MUCH easier to get booked.
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Dennis Michael
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A magician friend interested in school assembly shows.

This friend must qualify to do school shows, in that not everyone can or likes to do kid shows. A bad performance can cost him his career in this area, at least if the principals talk. Also, magic is being looked at as NOT an educational program, rather as a show that riles the kids up more than 10 lbs of chocolate.

An excellent book to read is Make Money Performing in Schools, Definitive Guide to Developing, Marking, & Presenting School Assembly Programs, by David Heflick. A must have book if he is going in this direction.

How much should he charge for an hour-long show? $300-$400?

First, the show should not be an hour, because it generally does not meet the schools existing time schedule. Forty-five minutes is the accepted time for this venue. Second, David Ginn talks about this. In some areas this may be two much, and in other more should be charged. Schools have limited budgets and no funds for magic. Now if your show was an anti-drug show, there are funds available for this type of program. Success in this area hinges on a program which the school wants, and magic is not a top priority. Also, many principals had bad experiences with magicians and that has made it tough on bookings.

Although I truly respect Scott F. Guinn philosophy, related to pricing, but it is unrealistic to get his corporate fees for school shows. One must love to do this and willing to negotiate price based on numerous factors. Think of a single school assemble show as a half-days work, assuming you do two shows a day. There are only 180 school days in a year, of which you realistically cannot do all those days. Yes, magicians do 300-400 shows a year. This is considered a full time job, which pays 90,000 to 160,000 a year at the mentioned price. At even half of that it is not a bad living wage. Again, your show must be worth it. Does it have illusions or just the Play Big-Pack Small Suitcase version. Price hinges on demand, number of magicians in area, and other factors. This issue is discussed all over the Magic Café.

How does he go about booking them?
David Guinn puts Mondays aside to book the shows, and uses numerous techniques in marketing the show. This is the hard part. Principals get calls every day and your call must get them interested in the first thirty seconds or you will lose them. Many principals will defer you to the PTA or Parent's groups. David Ginn, published a book called Promoting Me and You II (Also Promoting Me and You) which is filled with the how-to book. The answer cannot be solved in just this post.

Is there a specific contact at a school he should call?
The person responsible for booking and planning school assemblies.

What sort of promo packet should he send them?
It must be professionally done. Promoting Me and You II by Ginn answers all these questions with numerous examples, however, by now this book may be out of print. He only had about 9 left when I bought this book last year.

Does the show need to have an overall "message"?
The Make Money Performing in Schools book say it all. Please don't fool them and state a theme, then do the theme for five minutes and for forty minutes do magic. Now message programs can receive upward fees to $700 per show. Also, the August KIDdabra Convention will help him 10 fold. In addition, Steve Tayor has lecture notes called "Creating & Writing Educational Magic Programs" which are excellent.
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Now, if your friend wants to do this, he must be committed to it and be willing to pay the price for learning by getting the books and mastering the skills for the business end. There are three phases of magic, the technical, the presentation, and the business end. Ignore any one of these and failure will mostly happen.

Getting into the School Assembly System, will be no easy take. My first attempt was a mailing of 300 flyers ad brochures to area schools, and I did not get one response, so this tells you I did something wrong. When questioning some of the potential clients, their responses were, "We don't do Magic Shows because the NJ law states assembly shows will be educational and magic shows do not qualify. Deliver a message and if we can get funds for it then we can come to an agreement.", "We already have a Magician.", and "We had bad experiences with Magicians.", were quite common. Frustrating, to say the least.

Hope this helps.
Dennis Michael
TheDean
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Nice Job Dennis... well spoke!

Dean
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Scott F. Guinn
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Quote:
On 2002-03-21 06:57, DenDowhy wrote:
Although I truly respect Scott F. Guinn philosophy, related to pricing, but it is unrealistic to get his corporate fees for school shows. One must love to do this and willing to negotiate price based on numerous factors.


First, thanks.

Second I have done school shows extensively for years and still do a number of shows for schools every year, all over the country. And while it is true that you probably won't get a corporate price, I didn't say you could. I simply said $300 for an hour was a very low price. I typically do 30-45 minutes, as you suggested. I also typically have a safety or educational theme of some type (although not always, as sometimes the assembly is a treat for the kids for reaching some kind of goal, etc). I have worked everything from pre-school to college in 20 states, and have NEVER done an hour show for as little as $300. I've done 1/2 hour shows for as low as $250, but even without good math skills, anyone can figure that translates into $500 per hour. I have done multiple shows for a lower rate, but not at a rate of $300/hour--not in a school assembly of more than 10-15 kids--not even in my home town, much less when i have to travel.

You are correct in many of your points, though. You will be able to get more money with a theme, and you shouldn't do this unless you are good with kids and have excellent grammar (it is in school, after all).

If I were doing an hour for a corporate gig, I'd be getting WAY more than $300! I would charge more than that for an in home birthday party gig.

Most schools have significantly more money than you think, and there are ways to help them find it. But by settling for next to nothing, that's all you'll ever get.

I learned this lesson the hard way many years ago. A school said they couldn't sfford my fee, so I performed for a significantly reduced fee. Several months later, they had a big illusionist whom they paid thousands of dollars!

The PTA can help chip in, the district can help chip in, the police/fire depts (if you do safety shows) are often willing to chip in, and many corporations are willing to help sponsor safety or anti-drug shows. The money IS there--you just need to know how to find it.

By working cheaply, you not only cheat yourself (assuming you have a decent show), but you make it that much harder for those of us who DO make a living performing magic to get the gigs at a price that allows us to make our living. It's called undercutting, and it's a bad thing.

This may seem a little harsh, and I don't mean this as a personal attack on anyone, but until magicians start to think more professionally, we're not going to be seen or treated that way.

When the toilets break or the ceiling caves in, do the workers who come and fix it give the school a special deal? NO! Often, these are people who are contracted at a VERY GOOD SALARY, and often they are not, but they get the fee they demand. Why should we be any different?

I feel very strongly about this. Do less time, or give 'em a price break if they book you for four shows in one day, or if the district sets you up in multiple schools. But don't undercut!
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Dennis Michael
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Great post Scott! Or is it Great Scott, nice post!And all of what you said is right.

Since the questions appear to deal with somone who wants to break into the SCHOOL ASSEMBLY business I focused only on that area.

I didn't get into John Kaplan'd traveling Magic Shows, which focus a lot on schools. He commands several thousand dollars but he provide a package easy to administer program. Yes there are ways to command more money if one knows the business.

These are two different types of shows, one is a 2-hour fundraising theme park musical magic show and the other is conducted during school hours for 45 minutes, presenting a needed message. Each are seperate issues. One deals with an evening show family show and the other is inside which deals with just the school kids.

Like yourself, I too was burned, I was told it was a charity show and they used me as a fund raiser making over a thousand and paying me peanuts. We all learn by our mistakes.
Dennis Michael
Scott O.
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Quote:

When the toilets break or the ceiling caves in, do the workers who come and fix it give the school a special deal? NO! Often, these are people who are contracted at a VERY GOOD SALARY, and often they are not, but they get the fee they demand. Why should we be any different?



Scott, I agree with you here. Although, when the ceiling caves in, or the toilet plugs there is a definite perceived need. "This needs to be fixed, get somone out here."

So, the magician's first job, way before contacting the school, is to understand why the school NEEDS your service as a magician. This 'need' then has to be communicated to the proper person/people at the school. If they are convinced of the need for YOUR services, then the price is easier to maintain.

Determining and communicating the need does require one to do his or her homework though (pun intended).

Scott Smile
Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest, if you do not give up. Galatians 6:9
Philemon Vanderbeck
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Thanks to everyone who offered their knowledge and experiences!

I will forward along your recommendations to my friend.

BTW, he's already lucked into doing one school show, but is interested in learning more about this end of the biz.

Thanks!
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
That Creepy Magician
"I use my sixth sense to create the illusion of possessing the other five."
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