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MagicCoach
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Interesting discussion.

One point that I don't think has been covered
is the fact that an agent/bureau/booker
can help you push your fee level up in the marketplace.

I"ve always tried to push my fee up every year and after 25 years hope I can keep doing so.

At points along the way you meet 2 sorts of resistance.
The first external.. is your product significantly better different and defined in the marketplace to allow you to do this? Can you produce the goods as promised?

The second is internal. People limit themselves. A lot of performers get hung up pushing past $250-$300. Gee they think, they could buy a DVD player or a playstation instead of booking me.
Then $500 and then of course a lot hang around the 8-900 mark before they convince themselves that they can shoot into 4 figures and beyond.

Here in Australia a lot of the big Bureau/Agents
that book corporate entertainment and speakers
have a minimum fee level around the 2K level. (some higher). Under this it's just not worth their time and effort to do the paper work. (and this is still taking 30% )

So to work at that level you first have to convince yourself you can. Then convince them you can and away you go. So working with an agent can make you more money in the long run as they push the bar up.

But I must absolutely re-inforce what Jim Snack said above. If you are allowing the bureau/booker to lift your price in the marketplace then you absolutely must have a consistant fee in the marketplace.
If a client comes to you direct, you quote the exact same fee as they will get quoted at the bureau office.

Most of my work comes direct to me, but I'm quite happy to share the money (pay a commision out of my fee) with someone else if I can work with their client.
Ricky B
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FWIW I think the price quoted by an agent and the price a magician charges should be the same. The fee to the agent is the marketing expense that the magician should bear, and one price avoids the problems (already discussed above) with having more than one price.

"Can we break agents into a few categories as well?"

It seems to me that the kind of agent most magicians would like to have does not exist at the level that most magicians are at. Agents in any field (e.g., real estate) who work for parties at the bottom of the economic ladder are usually not as good as the ones who work for the top dogs. For most magicians (charging less than $1000 for a gig), self-marketing may be the best bet.

--Rick
Jim Snack
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Rick is right on the money here. As I said in another post:

"There are agents...and there are agents.

A guy who books bands and gets an occasional call for a variety performer, even though he calls himself an agent, is not going to keep you busy. You will still have to promote yourself to the "economic buyer," that is the person signing the check.

An agency that has a client list that can keep you busy, on the other hand, is not really interested in you until you have enough name recognition that their clients specifically ask for you by name, or they have so much confidence in your ability that they recommend you to their clients who may have never heard of you. In addition, your fee has to be high enough to earn the agency a decent commission."

That's just not the level at which most magicians do business.
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
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NJJ
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I misread one of the above posts but my misreading was an interesting point..

When agent charges ON TOP OF the magicians fee by 20-30% (or whatever) does that help raise the price of all magicians? Does it show that the magician in questions should be charging more?
BlackSalt
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I know that we have beaten this topic a lot over the past few months but if you’ll indulge me …

Nicholas J. Johnson points out that the agent is a customer. I’m sorry Nicholas but I personally can’t agree with that definition. I hope this doesn’t come off sounding like I’m being nit-picky. I believe it is an attitude and basis of business that we, the talent must enforce.

I my opinion, the agent works for both the buyer and the talent. He/she is a commission sales person. The talent is the end product from which the fee is extracted. The sales person does not buy the product but brings the purchaser and talent together and then, more often then not, removes himself/herself from the equation.

Again, in my most humble opinion (gad it has become soooooo important to type that little line hasn’t it?) ….

An entertainer must become proficient at networking. It makes good business sense that any network should include agents.

Validate an agent’s credibility. A good agent (one who realizes that he has two customers; the buyer and you - the act) will agree to run the money through you. The deposit should be written to you. The final payment must be issued to you. The agent should invoice you for his/her fees which you should pay promptly.

I caution anyone who blindly locks out all agents. There are good ones out there and when you have an agent who is a great closer, who understands your act, who genuinely likes you and is actively pursuing gigs for you (and incurring expenses along the way) you may want to negotiate bonuses with them as these are a rare breed and worth every penny.

As a side note to MagicCoach ….

30%!!!!!! For an agent???? HOLY COW!

I have negotiated with management companies who ask for 25% - 30%. These people are prepared to do a lot more for me than even the best agents can offer. For 30%, shouldn’t we expect the agent to meet us at the airport, drive us to the function and set up the show like a roadie. Who’s the product these days anyway? Who’s working for who? How soon before they start to think themselves worthy of 50% or 65% for taking a darn phone call on our behalf?

Geez, and they wonder why entertainers have such negative views towards them.

Best regards,
BlackSalt
Michael BlackSalt
A Vacation For The Mind!
www.blacksalt.ca
MagicCoach
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"30%!!!!!! For an agent???? HOLY COW!

I have negotiated with management companies who ask for 25% - 30%. These people are prepared to do a lot more for me than even the best agents can offer. For 30%, shouldn’t we expect the agent to meet us at the airport, drive us to the function and set up the show like a roadie."
~~~~~

Actualy BlackSalt they do. Well not them,
but I do get met by a guy at the airport,
he has a nice suit and a smart car & my name on a little blackbord so I know who he is. He drives me to the job, where someone has set up the stage and audio. I prefer to set my own props, not that I have many anymore.
The client pays for the transport and production, something the booker negotiates on my behalf.


sorry for the rushed reply, (i'm on the road)
and I totaly agree ,
don't just lock out agents/bureaus/bookers
because you may happen to have a negative experience
with one or two
find the ones who relate to you
who will grow with you
and treat them well

timothy
Dennis Michael.
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Quote:
On 2003-10-26 01:12, Nicholas J. Johnson wrote:
I misread one of the above posts but my misreading was an interesting point..

When agent charges ON TOP OF the magicians fee by 20-30% (or whatever) does that help raise the price of all magicians? Does it show that the magician in questions should be charging more?


I am not sure if it helps raise the price of all magicians but it has certainly made me think twice about my rates. Maybe I should be thankful for that insight from working with the aforemetioned agents.
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Dennis Michael
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NJJ
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I think of the agent's who hire me as customers (perhaps when they are not) because

a) they have a choice as to whether they should call me or not.
b) if I don't provide a good service to THEM, they will not call me unless they have to.
c) If I sell myself and my services to them then they in turn will find it far easier to sell me to others.
Dennis Michael.
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Thanks eveyone. For all of your stimulating input.

I guess what I am looking for then is a "business manager." Wish me luck.


Dennis


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Dennis Michael
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Allan
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First, I rarely work for agents.I want to control my own destiny. I find that most agents are not my friend, they have no interest in me other than how much they can make on me.

Second, I always take a job from an agent when they treat both me & what I do with respect & they pay the price I ask.

When I work for an agent, I do the job the right way. After all this is my show & I take pride in the product & show that I deliver. Most agents in my area, are not to be trusted. These, I will not work for.

As for a standard price, Why? I once had a client that was told by two of her friends to call & hire me. She never called. She instead chose to let an agency pick the magician for her event. The agency knew of her special needs & sold my services to her. When she found out that I was the magician she did not call & instead had hired me through the agent. She also found out that she was paying a high premium on my services. She called me & asked me to drop out of the gig with the agent. She would then hire me on a direct basis. & we would both make out better. I declined. I pointed out to her that she was the one that decided to use an agency to assure herself of a good outcome. The agent had picked the correct magician. The agent had earned their fee. I told that she may be spending more money this way but she chose this path, a service had been provided, a fee had been earned. She then understood that the agent had provided a valuable service to her.

When we choose to use a middleman, we are actually paying for their expertise. We are actually paying extra to get the right results. If the job goes well, it was money well spent.

If we become our own contracter on a construction job we can save money. Most of us don't do that. We realize that we do not have the time or expertise to do the job & we gladly pay the contractors fee to ensure a proper result. It is no different with an agency. Those that chose that path, should expect to pay more.
Jim Snack
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Allan,

I cannot agree with your approach. This is exactly the problem I spoke of earlier when a performer does not have a standard fee.

While your analogy with a building contractor is logical, remember this: people make decisions emotionally and use logic to rationalize them afterwards.

In the final analysis your client - the woman who hired you - was left with a "bad taste in her mouth." You can be sure that is what she will remember, and talk about, when discussing hiring a magician in the future.

Furthermore, you can be sure this problem will arise again.
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
www.success-in-magic.com
Allan
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I still disagree, there is no free lunch. When you want to accomplish something, there are two ways to do it. One, is to make all the phone calls, do the research, listen to a friends reccommendation & make a decision that you may not have the expertise or time to make.

The other is to hire someone to lead you & help you make decisions to get a proper result. Why would anyone expect not to pay for an extra level of service.

In this world, you pay for what you get & you should expect to pay a fee for the services of another person that helps you accomplish your goal, & takes over all the work.

I see no reason to give my money to an agent. While I do give a slight discount to agents, they should be comfortable adding on to that. I think that it is the client that is creating an extra level of service & they should be willing to pay for the service they have asked for.

As for the client that found out my direct #, she realized that she chose this path. She has used me again since then, some of her friends have used me. The agent was happy & so were the clients.

The bottom line is that they had the magician they wanted, the agent coordinated everything. The shows gave them the result they wanted.

Win win situation as far as I could see.

Allan
Jim Snack
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If the client used you again, then she must have been happy with the outcome. Unless, of course, she tried to bypass the agent on subsequent bookings. It doesn't sound like that happened. In that case, I stand corrected.
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
www.success-in-magic.com
Allan
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Thank you Jim,

In truth, she did want to bypass the agent. Instead of refusing the job, I called the agent. Explained the situation took the job & sent the agent a commission. As long as everyone deals in an honest way & does not try & screw each other, it can work. was the agent happy? NO, but they found out that I was above board, I play by the rules, & I was told by the agent that no performer had ever both protected the agent as I did & even sent them a commission that they would have never known about if I did not call them.

I think that one of the reasons this situation has only happened once is that I don't advertise, have no web site or solicit business in any way. I am a full time performer & am lucky enough to work steady without soliciting business. I also almost never work in the county that I live so people can't find me easily.

Again, win win.

Allan
Jim Snack
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Allan,

I'm not surprised that she tried to by bypass the agent, but you handled it properly.
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
www.success-in-magic.com
Bob Sanders
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I like doing business through agents. In the 60s I owned an agency.

More importantly, I’ve had a personal manager who handled agents for me. Some agents have been very good friends. Many I only know by name.

Oddly the term "marketing" keeps coming up on The Café. Many magicians do not know that I am also an old published university marketing professor. My area of specialization is Professional Services Marketing and Personality Marketing. (Yes, I do political campaigns too!) There is no substitute for marketing. However, selling is a very small part of marketing (about 6% in a successful strategic plan). Agents are essentially sales people.

My real observation is that many performers expect the agent to do the other 94% too. That is unreasonable. To expect them to work for 6% of the contract is also unreasonable. When you get surgery, the doctor may spend less than an hour with you and your other caregivers may spend hundreds of hours with you. Do you pay them the same? I hope not! The skills required and the accountability for results are very different. Know what you are buying. Professional agents will be glad to talk with you about that. But be aware, it is your job to bring them something to sell.

I've been criticized on occasions for not listing clientele on my websites. Think about to whom that information is being furnished. Why provide a prospecting list to the competitor? Save that for your agent and real paying prospects. Professional talent buyers are going to make phone calls anyway. Other magicians aren't going to book you. But they might parasite off of you, especially if they are inexperienced or are not very resourceful on their own. You have a duty to not waste your clients’ and former clients’ time too. It is kind enough that they give references for you to real talent buying prospects. My experience has also been that Fortune 500 companies make their initial contacts with talent through agents. My agency contacts have been priceless. My websites recommend as a talent buyer that you use them. (It doesn’t mean don’t sell your self.) But of web mail I receive requesting show booking information, only about one in fifty from non-agents, including company marketing departments, results in a contract. Booking Agents bat 25-50%. Ad agencies bat about 85%. I do much better keeping it a Business-to-Business operation. I am closing in on forty-seven years as a professional entertainer. Agents aren’t as plentiful or always as capable as they were before. But there are still many very good ones. (Rarely are they in New York or Los Angeles. Shop carefully.)

Bob
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magicofCurtis
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Greetings

I agree with Bob Sanders statement the best.. There are good agents and bad agents.. Find the good ones... The ad agency and marketing companies are usually better than the local birthday party talent agencies..

However one needs to be flexible to their needs to their client(s) and a talent agent is a magicians client.. Be flexible with them... Remember the beauty in this business is that one can turn down any job. So leave yourself open... Meaning if an agent calls you, first get the details, dates time pay rate etc., and if the situation should not fit within your needs. Just simply say you have another booking at that time and keep you in mind for the any future gigs..

Dennis Michael stop complaining about agents... just don't work through them.. ..and so-what if one has to give up a few dollars to the agent... Consider it as your cost of marketing and paying for the ads, which you did not have to pay for until you got the show..... (Which is the best form of advertisement)

Wishing all of you the best.
Curtis Eugene Lovell II
Starrpower
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Are there good pizzas?

Some are good, others aren't. Same with agents. I have an agent whom I met when we were both magicians. He hires me for pretty good fees -- $1,500 and up -- and he's very easy to work with. He sees things from an entertainer's perspective, and the few times there have been problems, he's always been on my side. I consider him a friend.

I know of another agent who hired a friend of mine for an event. The event cancelled, and the agency refused to give my friend a "kill" fee, yet they kept the down payment! That agency is not a friend, and neither my friend nor I will work for them unless we get paid up front.
Bob Sanders
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Know your state's law on entertainers' agents. If he is your employee (as are lawyers in many cases), you may get to court and simply have to take credit for poor judgement.

On the other hand, if he is running a completely separate business and your relationship is not one of employer/employee, you may find your agent must be more accountable for his/her actions, even to you!

Be careful in some states, the rule is "open season on fools".

Written documents help save friendships.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz

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