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Regular user
Overland Park, KS
162 Posts

Profile of augiemagic
Hey guys, I'm back. I didn't post last week because I had one of those weeks that reminded me why I originally quit busking in the first place. Musicians setting up on top of me, a couple hostile audience members, etc.

This week, on the other hand, reminded me why I love performing. I broke my all-time one-day money record and had loads of fun. I learned a ton in the process. To be fair, it wasn't a normal day on the streets. I was out at a local busker festival all weekend, and made around $560 for about 14-16 hours worth of shows. I was, however set up for around 22-23 hours just holding a spot and waiting for crowds. I went out way too early on saturday, and only did a couple shows before 3:00. Saturday still ended up as my best ever day, both moneywise and otherwise. The days take was $325 and change. I probably did around 10 shows all day. Importantly, I did almost as many shows on friday, and only made $110, even though my crowds were only a little smaller. I certainly had a couple hats over $40 all weekend, and I'm pretty sure I had one over $50, but once I got rolling, there was never any time to count hats before someone would inevitably come up to my table and ask when the next show was.

I think this difference is mostly due to a couple things. First, on friday, I was out with a couple other performers who watched and gave me their thoughts, which I think really improved the show. The advice they gave me was:
Be nicer
Slow down
Find a few sweet/cute moments with kids in the audience
Learn/use people's names in the audience.

Basically, all stuff to build a stronger rapport with the audience. Changing these things not only helped me build larger crowds (I think) but it also got people to pay me more. In any given show, I went from using 0 people's names to learning and using 4-8 names, making sure to personally address each person as part of the climax. I did this and got rid of some of the more abusive lines, while maintaining some of my risque humor and just enough gruffness to add depth to my character. I guess being likable is important...

I also started hatting harder, I think harder than almost all the other small shows around. I got more than a few fives and tens (No twenties... yet). My first main line was "If you liked my show, think about this. If you saw me in a bar or coffee shop, you'd buy me a drink without hesitation. A beer costs 3-4 bucks, a martini costs 7. I personally think I'm a lot more entertaining than a martini. For those of you that disagree, they have meetings for people like you". In addition to a couple stock lines.

I also bought a rope and set it out to be my stage line. Worked like a charm, but it was the first time I'd ever done that. Also gave my amp a solid field testing on Saturday, and ran the battery all the way down. Did my last 2-3 hours unamplified. I think I'm starting to learn how to work with the amp without problems. Previously, any time I used the amp it imparted a weird energy to the show. I'd draw a crowd, but I couldn't connect with them and get them to dip into their wallets. I turned the volume down just a bit from where I normally set it, which made me use my voice a little louder and more expressively.

Getting a verbal receipt of value really seemed to help too. A couple times sporadically throughout the show I'd say "If you're having a good time, say yeah!" and used a few more bits to get them to make noise.

I ran into and met Professor Gizmo for the first time. He is an incredibly nice guy. I also met a few others and ran into a couple people I'd met previously (The Mage Ulysses, Sora Korso, and a few of the local IBM guys). There were 5-6 magicians working the festival, which was more than I remember from previous years. It was fun having impromptu jam sessions while waiting for shade etc (Temps got up into the mid 90's this weekend).

I'm sure I'll think of more stuff that made a difference, but I'm exhausted right now and in recovery mode. I'll probably post more later. As always, thanks for reading and thanks for posting.
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Special user
Dargaville, New Zealand
929 Posts

Profile of MagiCol
I've been reading posts on Busking for years on this forum, and I reckon your post, augiemagic, and that of Gr8gorilla, -see post no. 6 or so in this thread - are very valuable as documentaries on what it's like for those who are already magicians who get out onto the street for the first time or after a long break from it.
And there's some great advice for those starting out both in learning magic and in becoming street savvy, which is what I had to do. Gradually I became better at what I'm doing. And I'm still learning.
There seems to be no end to the learning process of doing Magic Shows on the street. There's so many variables to take into account. I love the constant change of people and the challenge that brings to me to perform well, to hat well. I know I'm doing what I do more for the love of it than for the money because [being a part-timer] at times I don't count the money until a day or two after the outing. I like the money, but I like even more meeting the people and having fun working magic with them.
Keep adding to this thread, Augie!
The presentation makes the magic.
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