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Gerry Walkowski
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I've seemed to notice a trend and was wondering if this was related to a decline in actual bookings for many popular performers in their respective field.

Some magicians seem to be branching out into other fields selling such things as:

- Teaching courses to other magicians / variety acts
- Running chat rooms similar to the Magic Café
- Selling magic products
- Selling marketing courses and/or offering mentorship programs

I am NOT saying there's anything wrong with doing any of this. I certainly understand the logic behind "multiple streams of income," something that Dave Dee pushed (I realize he didn't invent this concept, but he could have been the first to push this idea) in the magic world.

I just thought that if some of these performers were half as busy as they claim, they wouldn't even have time to think about so many other things.

So that's why I've been wondering - Is their piece of pie (a base of customers) now being cut into much smaller pieces causing them to wander into other fields?

I realize that in the "real world" competition is heating up for some of the really big players. I don't care how big your company is, there's always someone with a much bigger marketing budget trying to carve out an important piece of market share and steal YOUR customers.

Knowing that makes me wonder if the same thing is happening in the magic world.

I certainly don't have answers to all of this, which is why I thought it would make for an interesting post.

Gerry
tacrowl
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Gerry -
That is a limiting look at the business life of a performer. (Unfortunately one I used to share.) An act that commands higher dollar paydays doesn't need to perform as often as the $250 birthday act - which leaves them free to expand and explore other areas that interest them. No one is one dimensional.

As an example - last year, I started an on-line course to teach the art of ventriloquism. Between performances, I mapped out the course, created the videos and hired virtual assistants to edit, transcribe and put the course on-line. I now have two extensions of that course - one a script writing course, another just released called Discussions On Showmanship: http://ShowmanshipCourse.com

I created those because I realize at age 50 - my performing career will one day wind down - and it offers a chance to share the things I've learned with others. And before someone cries "Foul! - If you really wanted to share, you'd do it for free!" check out http://entertainment-experts.com where I sit down with other pros and we offer all types of insights, advice, tips and inspiration. For free!

Is that true for everyone that sells a course or offers mentor-ship? Buyer beware and do your homework. I'm sure there are some looking for a quick buck, but if they don't have the skills to make it as a performer, chances are their "courses" won't be around that long either.

As for the economy - there is plenty of work out there - shows that pay high dollar. If someone isn't making enough, they need to define their market, their message and make connections. It takes work.
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

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Mindpro
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I agree with many of Gerry's concerns. The market is flooded with so many new experts writing e-books, courses, trainings and other things. In reality these peope are not performing, but rather trying to find a way to make money from home with their magic.

It used to be it was only the professional performers that spent a lifetime performing professionally to only when they were in their latter years and decided to or were required to cut back on their performing that they would then put their lifetime of professional knowledge and experiences into a book or program.

With things like e-books, quick pfd files, and video's that can be self-produced, almost anyone can release almost anything at anytime. Their is no longer a filter or standard from which the industry adheres to. Often these things are not even from real shows but rather staged footage and performance for the sole purpose of the produced to be released for profit.

This new craze of young guys wanting to be gurus is much more appealing to their egos and oddly enough their are many younger people that are impressed by this type of product and the false perception that is created positioning themselves as an "expert" or "professional". They all of a sudden become legenadry in their own minds.

This is not meant in any way to be directed at Tom, I just happen to post after his thread. Tom is 50, had been doing it for some time and has some established credibility. This is how it should be.

For many it easier to create an e-book or release some info than it is to actually work on a professional act and generate well paid bookings. I have been researching some information for an upcoming project and have contacted nearly fifteen or maybe twenty of these types of new-fangled experts to inquire about attending their performances and amazingly enough they aren't performing anywhere in the near future. I've attended conventions where they are performing their marketed effects and some of these performances are horrible. It's sad. They're all trying to position themselves as experts, authorities and legends, without a basis of foundation or body of work to back it up.

Then what happens is they quickly get a pack of loyal followers that become even more jaded and speak and defend these people as disciples. It's crazy and has driven many of the true pros away from here. Gerry's saying "there's nothing bad about this"...I disagree and say there is something terribly bad about this. It's realy too bad for the industry.
Dannydoyle
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Yes Tom the difference is simply that you are 50 and have decades of time tested experience that you wish to share more than sell. You are working smarter not harder. You are doing fewer shows for larger money and have a schedule that gives you the time to take on the project and also lend credability to them because of your decades of experience.

The problem I have is when a 22 year old kid wants to elevate HIMSELF to guru status and wants to tell us all about it. Some of the offerings of late amount to nothing more than putting a grade on homework papers. There is a HUGE difference and unfortunately a very large percentage of the offerings of late are of this second variety.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
David Thiel
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Why release an eBook? I don't think any professional (ie: someone who makes a living performing) REALLY does so for the money. There's a different mindset for a full-timer: you need to make your time count. Every mintute set aside for generating revenue needs to...well..generate revenue. You only eat what you go out, hunt and kill. Smile And releasing eBooks isn't all that cost effective.

Here's an example: we've done three Magic Pendulum books. These each have a specific focus...and each one features routines from some of the top names in the business. I got an email once from a young guy who was commending me on having found a "sweet deal" -- meaning achieving success by slapping together some routines and tossing them into the market. Seriously?

Here's the real information. I estimate that each one of these books has taken a minimum of 250 hours to assemble. (That's over six FULL TIME weeks.) There's time spent in contacting the writers (which often involves convincing them that the product you're working on will be real quality), editing their work, meeting deadlines, doing graphics and graphic layout -- working with other artists to make SURE the book looks professional...there are a lot of things that go into an eBook if you want to do it right.

We also pay royalties to each writer on each contribution.

I will make MORE doing two corporate shows than I have on all three of the ebooks.

So why do it?

First: it has to be a labor of love. I love pendulums. They are probably the most under-used prop since the TT. But when I initially wanted information on how a PERFORMER (and not a mystic or fortune teller) could use them, there wasn't much material out there...so I made my own. The result? Exclusive routines from Osterlind, Cassidy, Neal Scryer, Amira, Prater, Tahoe, Volpe and many, many more. It takes time to track these guys down. It takes time to work with them and organize what they submit. You think I'm not proud of the result? A book, even if you work on it in hotel rooms after shows, gradually transforns into a beautiful SOMETHING that exists because you've created it. How many more guys are using pendulums now because of what they've read? That's a good feeling.

Second: there's a legacy aspect to it. When you get up in years (I'm 54) you start thinking about what you can do to give something back into the community that has supported you for so long. Does that sound corny? It's not. I've been a full time performer since the late 1980's. I've had many blessings from my fellow perfomers -- guys who helped me and guys I've had the chance to help. I've learned effects because someone took the time to share them. At it's core (I'm not talking about the ones who come and go) the community of performers is very strong. Those within it need to support it.

I understand the whole "gee I wrote a book -- look at MEEEEE" thing. I've been burned by PDF's that some kid dashed off in his basement. But you know what? I also got burned by some of those "AMAZING magic EFFECTS" that I breathlessly ordered in those early days that came to me wrapped in brown paper when toilet paper would have been more suitable. Crap is crap. There will always be crap. But there will also be the occasional nugget, offered with respect to the community by someone who genuinely cares. And THAT'S what you look for. And that's why you do an ebook.

And let's face it: when you read one of these books, you can tell right away if it's been written by someone who is an actual performer or someone talking through their hat.

The guys in it for a quick buck soon find that there isn't one and they go away.

David
Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except bears. Bears will kill you.


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tacrowl
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I agree with Mindpro, Danny & David - but I pointed out my thoughts based on one comment Gerry made:
Quote:
wondering if this was related to a decline in actual bookings for many popular performers in their respective field.

I took popular performers in their respective fields to mean those who are actually established. Not the kids who are trying to present the image they are successful. In the case of respected pros who are out there earning a living, I wanted to point out that most I know do it because it fulfills a desire to explore other areas of interest and help others. Not everyone does it because - as Gerry assumed - of the economy.

Performers crying about the economy really need to step back and take a look at what they are doing. Sure competition is fierce and some people are cutting prices. But last year I flew all over the country and my clients had no issue paying me to do it. When you complain about the economy - you aren't actively doing something about your own situation.

Back to the kid gurus - I did state buyer beware. I'm 100% behind those who point out the "make a quick buck selling rehashed basic information" guys.
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

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Dannydoyle
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Yea the economy is a poor excuse for anything if you ask me.
Many do it also because of a feeling of giving back.

I never asked Tom about the new web site and motivation behind it but it is a lot of work for a guy just trying to help. Well my guess is it is his way of "giving back". Mind you a guess.
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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Much of it is primarily because of ego and perceived status among those that don't know better, or the kiddies.
Gerry Walkowski
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Tom and others,

Tom, I have a ton of respect for you and I hope by no means you took my posting as being directed towards you. I've actually seen you perform and think you're an excellent entertainer. You've certainly paid your dues along the way.

Again, I'm just speaking in generalities here.

Mindpro, my comment about "there's nothing bad about this" should have been placed a sentence below in the comment about "multiple streams of income." In a perfect world it would be nice to have income coming in from the likes of royalties, rental income, investments, etc.

Thanks,

Gerry
charliecheckers
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I would think that anyone who markets any product in today's market is doing so under a bit of a microscope because there is a ton of ways to get reviews from reliable sources. The reduced cost and efforts needed to bring a new product to market does mean that more information is being shared and marketed, but in terms of percentages it does not necessarily mean that more of it is bad. Proven experience is necessary, but relevance is as well. What worked 30 or 40 years ago to develop a business has huge gaps in translating it to todays world. Additionally, the writer would be now far removed from when they actually started, so the accuracy of the details may not be very fresh in their minds when sharing how they built their business or show. So I see advantages and disadvantages for each type of author.
eatonmagic
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I just had this discussion the other day with a magic buddy of mine.

I've always tried to tie together all my work. There was a point back in 2001 when I was gigging 6 nights a week and found myself really NOT wanting to perform. I was getting burnt out on it. About 6 months before this though, I knew that I was going to need to start looking good when I performed so I picked up a job as a "wardrobe consultant" with Men's Wearhouse. I worked there starting out as part-time and got 40% off my suits.

Well, after I worked there for about 6 months and was performing at night, I decided to take a small break from performing and let 4 of the restaurants know I wanted to pursue other interests. They understood and were kind enough to offer me the positions should I ever wanted to return. I still gigged at 2 of the restaurants a week but they were the more upscale ones where I booked higher paying outside gigs. I just felt myself beginning to really enjoy the suit business because 1) I love fashion and 2) I could cross-promote my magic business with my suit business. So when I was at the store, I could hand out cards to my suit clients and when I would perform, I would encourage the business professionals I was performing for to come and see me at the suit store. They were always asking me about my attire or "How did you do that knot in your tie?" In fact, I once was talking to Josh Jay about putting out a DVD called "Look the Part". He LOVED the idea but sadly, nothing ever happened with it.

In 2003 I decided to try my shot at a magic retail business and me and friend started up a magic shop inside King's Island in Cincinnati, OH. My friend Jafo (Jason Fields) had moved up with me and we were roomies. Jafo was a Photoshop expert and I had always had an interest in graphic arts and wanted to design my own materials. So I would watch Jafo every night while we drank coffee until 3am and we talked Photoshop : ) I had been turned on to some books by Scott Kelby, an amazing designer and publisher of Photoshop User magazine. His tutorials were incredibly easy to follow and fun so I instantly became hooked.

Once I was booked for a gig with a commercial printer and after a long talk with the art director about my love for design, she pulled me into her office (sorry I'm about to disappoint a lot of you lol) and sat me down to tell me that she had never went to school but learned from 5 books. In fact, she pulled them off the shelves and handed them to me and said, "Here...save yourself sixty grand!" She said that anything any professor would teach me I could learn in those books but what I would learn working with people is what really counted and that NO book out there could prepare you for that. I was ecstatic! I went home and read all five.

I picked up a gig by a guy that was starting up a magazine and after seeing my business card asked me who designed it. I told him I did and he wanted to do a quick interview on the spot about my design background. Well, to make a long story, he hired me part-time to do 1-2 spec ads for clients. After I submitted the first twenty or so, he put me on full-time as a designer. After 6 months I moved into layout.

I guess the purpose of these stories is that there ARE ways to do both magic as well as other things. Ini the end, if the information you're provided with works, that's all that matters. I have met a LOT of 22 year-olds that have AMAZING minds, I have a friend who started up a brass knuckles company at 15 years old. He was contacted by some people in Vegas only a year after his business launched and was asked to put an order together for 5,000 sets of brass knuckles for Peterbuilt trucks for their "Knockout salesman of the year" award. He made $25,000 and he was only 16 years old. Two years later he provided another 3,000 sets for Vin Diesel's "XXX" gift baskets for the premier of his movie. By the time he graduated high school he had already purchased his own apartment and was driving an Escalade.

My friend Kostya Kimlat has been lecturing since he was 17 years old and has travelled the world. He has successfully ran his own business dealing with over 65 magicians nationwide and he's only 28.

Luckily, since I work with the Orlando Magic and have several repeat clients annually, I have now focused on doing social media marketing for magicians and small businesses and design fan pages during the day. The ones who succeed rarely have time to do anything else : )
Dannydoyle
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Someone without a track record has nothing to write about.

While a person with decades of experience might be removed from where they started they certainly can speak of the journey.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Gerry Walkowski
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Eatonmagic,

Great stories. Do you recall the name of the 5 books that lady read?

Thanks,

Gerry
eatonmagic
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Quote:
On 2013-02-03 08:06, Gerry Walkowski wrote:
Eatonmagic,

Great stories. Do you recall the name of the 5 books that lady read?

Thanks,

Gerry


I remember one being Photoshop Classroom in a book. It has a certification CD at the end you install and take a test and become Adobe certified.

The other ones I'm not sure about but they were on topics on typography and kearning and the the other one was on inspirational development. I totally draw a blank on the other two.

I do know that my girlfriend at the time had purchased two books by Scott Kelby who was, and still is, editor for Photoshop User Magazine. He, along with a couple other guys have a weekly program called Photoshop TV and I learned a LOT from these guys! Plus, their teaching style is very fun to learn from.

-Mike
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