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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Selling shows before you have one! (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

keeblem
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Inner circle
Essex, UK
1167 Posts

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I'm sure everyone has already seen the on going discussion on another thread regarding selling shows before you have one. Most people, it seems think this is wrong. However, you may want to read the following extract from C.J. Johnson's More shows, More Money newsletter:

"I've always sold a new show before it was completely worked out. I even booked my first two hypnosis shows before I knew how to hypnotize people (though I did have the training scheduled before I scheduled the shows). Nothing will light a fire under your butt like the pressure of having a show coming up. It will certainly motivate you to get all of the work done on your new show. So, if you can take the pressure—go ahead and get the marketing machine rolling first, then work out all the details on the performance. Once that first date is booked, you'll have a firm deadline on when the show itself must be ready to go. Nothing is more motivating than a deadline."

Comments anyone?
Mark
Neale Bacon
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Inner circle
Burnaby BC Canada
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I think that it is different selling a NEW show before it is fully worked out as opposed to selling a show before you have one PERIOD.

I still think you should have a basic show worked out before you start selling, and of course that show can change over time.
Neale Bacon and his Crazy Critters
Burnaby BC
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Quentin
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I encouraged Chris (on the other thread) to get out and do his first show. Taking the booking and creating a deadline certainly creates internal pressure. As Dr. Johnson said, "There's nothing like a hanging in the morning to focus the mind."

It is also much easier to work on your show once you actually have one. You see, when you have no show you have no standard with which to judge yourself. When you are a busy performer you know what your average audience reaction is like and it is more difficult to try new material.

It takes time to run in new material and it takes an experienced and busy performer like CJ Johnson to pull off what he recommends. CJ already has the important skills which are the ability to maintain and control the attention of the audience. He is already at ease and confident on stage.

In the case of Chris, his anticipation and excitement will pull him through his very first paid show. In CJ's case his extensive experience will pull him through because he knows he has proven material to fall back on.

Theatre producers always book the theatre, dates and arrange the marketing long before they ever start rehearsals. Have you ever been to a theatre the day before an opening? That's a lesson in itself.

I have CJ's book and along with Dave Dee's course they are the best marketing courses for family entertainers. I didn't know CJ had a newsletter. Any more info on that?
Salazar Magic
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New Jersey
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Personally speaking...

Years ago, when all I had was a close-up show doing restaurants, I've always dreamed of going on stage but never had a show. It was one of those "can't book a gig without a show; can't perfect a show without an audience".

Only until a fellow magician booked me at a dinner theater did I have the pressure of putting together a stage show.

The show was a couple of months away, and I had time to slap together an act. From that performance, my show grew. Now, the bulk of my gigs are on stage.
Mike Robbins
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Anchorage, Alaska
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I suppose it's possible for some people who have already done some magic. But why not book a community service show like a nursing home, women's shelter, etc. as a non-paid charity show to "put the pressure on"? By doing a regular paid show when you're not prepared I believe you are damaging the public's view of magic even further than it already is and feeding the perception that you can just buy a bunch of tricks and "poof" you're a magician.

Mike
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
Shakespeare
Leo B. Domapias
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For over 20 years, I've worked as an employee of a large Philippine company, and in the corporate world, it is common for the underachievers and the mediocre employees to claim that they "thrive under pressure of a deadline." These types of employee can't snap out of their inertia and get a project going early enough. At the last moment, they would submit slapdash outputs in a photo-finish fashion and call that thriving under pressure.

It's inspiring to know that C.J. Johnson could work under pressure of a deadline. But heavens know that for every C.J. Johnson, there are two or three (maybe more) inexperienced magicians, who would crumble under such pressure if they adopt Mr. Johnson's strategy.

It is one thing for a talented and seasoned performer like C.J. Johnson to market a half-finished act and try to complete it before show time, while it is altogether another matter for a neophyte magician—who says he has no props, no routines, no experience, is average in every aspect of magic—to sell his non-existent act for a fee.

I think an experienced magician like C.J. Johnson can wriggle out of tight deadline, but a novice-wanting-to-turn-pro faces dire prospects if he tries playing an exhibition game like that.

For quite a long time now, it's been a brainteaser to me why some aspiring pros would not do things the normal and logical way. I can't think why a beginner magician would not first build an act and market it later, instead of market a non-existent show now and build the act later once a hapless client is found and conned into hiring such non-existent show. Isn't that the classic putting-the-cart-before-the-horse thing?

In one of his tapes, Dave Dee recounts the early moment in his magical career when he was overwhelmed by the number of things to do. His wife cleared his head for him by suggesting that he first put an act together. Which he did. The marketing push came later, and the rest is, as everyone says, history.

Ben Benjay
Manila, Philippines
magic4u02
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Eternal Order
Philadelphia, PA
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Personally speaking, I use my repeat yearly gigs and my civic pro-bono shows to work in new shows and new routines.

If I have a yearly reoccuring gig, that means that I have a year to work on new material and it gives me the time and motivation to keep myself fresh and creative.
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Lee Darrow
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Chicago, IL USA
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Quote:
I'm sure everyone has already seen the on going discussion on another thread regarding selling shows before you have one. Most people, it seems think this is wrong. However, you may want to read the following extract from C.J. Johnson's More shows, More Money newsletter:

"I've always sold a new show before it was completely worked out. I even booked my first two hypnosis shows before I knew how to hypnotize people (though I did have the training scheduled before I scheduled the shows). Nothing will light a fire under your butt like the pressure of having a show coming up. It will certainly motivate you to get all of the work done on your new show. So, if you can take the pressure—go ahead and get the marketing machine rolling first, then work out all the details on the performance. Once that first date is booked, you'll have a firm deadline on when the show itself must be ready to go. Nothing is more motivating than a deadline."

Comments anyone?
Mark
Yep!

AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!

Talk about unprofessional!

That's the same business model the software industry was using before the dot-com bubble popped.

NEVER offer to deliver a show you don't have! It's not only unprofessional, it's dishonest.

If someone calls you up for a show you don't have worked out, you CAN say, "Wow! Talk about coincidence! I'm going in to rehearsal next week on a show based on JUST that premise!" THEN do it!

Much less deceitful than saying, "Yep! I sure do that kind of show!" Especially a hypnosis show!

I've been doing those for over 30 years and can tell you, straight up, if you don't have the experience and the training—you will TANK, big time, damage your credibility and probably ruin that venue for anyone else in the hypno-biz.

Unless you are VERY lucky.

Sorry for the rant, but that kind of thinking is sheerest unprofessionalism at its worst.

Respectfully,

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
http://www.leedarrow.com
<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
Payne
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Seattle
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While I don't advocate selling a show before you have one I must admit I have been guilty of this activity.

A number of years ago I got a call from the bookstore that hosts our monthly Magic Monday performances.

Bookstore: We need a Harry Potter-themed show for a special event.

Me: Oh? When do you need this?

Bookstore: In three days.

At that time I had yet to read the books (though my wife had). It wasn't going to pay much (a hundred dollars in trade if I remember correctly) but I was intrigued so I took the gig.

I view this in no way unethical or misleading as the bookstore were the ones asking for the program and they knew at that time I didn't have a Harry Potter show.

I was able to put together about 15 minutes of Harry Potter-themed material which I padded out with a few of my standard effects and the act was very well recieved.

Two librarians from the county system saw my program and convinced me to pitch it to the libraries for their next year summer reading program. This I did, still without having the full 40 minute show that they required. Once they booked me I set to work completing the program (I had several months) and it went over quite well.

In fact I do more Potter-style shows these days than my regular performances.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
NJJ
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There's a thought.

What if a client rang and said, "I want a show themed around birds. Can you do that?" I have no such show but I would certainly put one together if the price was right.

After all, tailoring something to suit a crowd is good business and makes the client feel special.

But isn't this the same as selling a show that doesn't exist?
Leo B. Domapias
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I agree that "Tailoring something to suit a crowd is a good business", but only if one is a competent tailor to start with.

A tailor who has no tape measure, scissors, needles, threads, sewing machine or know-how to sew a suit won't dream of accepting a job to make a client's tuxedo in, say, 24 hours. But there are magicians who haven't done a bird-show before (and perhaps don't even have birds to start with) who will toy with the idea of putting together one such show under pressure of a deadline if the price is right.

Now, I think there's a lesson or two. A tailor can teach magicians on how not to misapply the principle of "tailoring a job to suit a client’s need".

Ben Benjay
Manila, Philippines
NJJ
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They can also teach us a lot about fashion.

We need all the help we can get!
Lee Darrow
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Chicago, IL USA
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In the situation of being called on to do a type of act I don't do, like birds, I would defer and offer them someone that I know who DOES a bird act.

Then either take a commission or the good karma for doing something nice for someone else.

Service the client well and you will be remembered. Service the client poorly and you won't be forgotten.

Or booked again.

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
http://www.leedarrow.com
<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
Greg Owen
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I recall when I was starting out that it seemed that every client wanted something a little different. I was tailoring my show for every show...

This ran me ragged and, while I gained useful experience performing in a wider range of venues than I might have otherwise, it proved to be very inefficient. The hours spent choosing and rearranging my bits and then adding themed scripting...yuck!!!

In a later life, I got the idea that I wanted to do a completely different type of show than what I had done up to that point. The answer was to sell the concept to a local, long-running festival with the understanding that there was risk involved and that the act would likely develop and change throughout the run of the festival. Long-running festivals are accustomed to this and know it is a good way to develop new acts. I also charged less as I had no video (of this show) etc. Sort of a win-win situation. Now if the show flops...

- Greg Owen
Author of The Alpha Stack ebook - the balanced memorized stack
gobeatty@yahoo.com
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