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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Being asked to perform for free (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Inner circle
1736 Posts

Profile of jakeg
I know that I'm getting on this a little late, but what would really raise the hackles on the back of my neck was when I would get calls for free xmas shows. I would ask what they were having, and the answer was pretty much the same. They bought gifts for the kids, (not donated), they bought food for the kids, (not donated), they bought decorations, (not donated), they rented a sant costume, (not donated), but ... they expected me to donate a show. I don't get teed off anymore. I just tell them that I'm scheduled to be at a local hospital where I donate my time to entertain the kids, (which I do on occassion), or I tell them that I'm already booked for that date. That way I don't get bad mouthed.
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Regular user
142 Posts

Profile of patrick1515
On occasion I have flipped the offer on them. I insist on getting paid. No discussion. I tell them that they write a check to me and take a business expense deduction. In turn I write them a check as a donation and I get a charitable tax deduction. Win-win situation right. Except I charge the show at my full rate and then donate back a percentage based upon their cause and how I was treated during the event. I also try to milk as much PR out of the event as possible and promote the heck out of my show during the performance. Essencially, working the same angle as most of these charities. For some reason I don't get asked to do too many free shows anymore...
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New user
43 Posts

Profile of NeverGrowUpMagic
I do several free shows for charity events and don't do it expecting any paid shows. I do these shows because I think it is important to give back to the community. The Children's Hospital, Special Olympics and children's diabetes organizations.

You should never do free shows expecting them to lead to paid events, it just doesn't work.

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98 Posts

Profile of budja
Is donating your time the same as free? I think not. If you donate, the show still has value and you have donated it. Free means you had nothing better to do.
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Eternal Order
10176 Posts

Profile of Mindpro
On 2014-02-18 16:43, budja wrote:
If you donate, the show still has value and you have donated it.

Only to you, rarely to those you are donating it to. If you don't do it they'd likely just move on to find someone else who would. That is not value.
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Eternal Order
20566 Posts

Profile of Dannydoyle
It is up to you how much you value what it is you are donating.

What I mean if you believe in the cause if you want to help, who is anyone else to tell you it is the wrong thing to do? If you believe you are doing the right thing then you are.
Don't let anyone else tell you it is not the right thing to do.

Now it can be debated if it is good for business, or good "exposure" or what not. Those things are pretty easy to see. But again it is all up to you in the end.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Neale Bacon
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Inner circle
Burnaby BC Canada
1775 Posts

Profile of Neale Bacon
On 2013-11-12 11:18, Al Angello wrote:
A free magician may only be worth what you pay him. LOL

Al Angello nailed it! He is a very wise fellow.
Every time I have ever done a free show, all I got were requests for more free shows, and treated like crap to boot. The only charity I do freebies for is The Salvation Army as that is my home church. Other than that, I offer a "charity discount"
Neale Bacon and his Crazy Critters
Burnaby BC
Canada's Favourite Family Ventriloquist
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Regular user
132 Posts

Profile of vinh.giang
Gosh so many amazing lessons to be learnt in this thread. I would love to share with you my opinion on this, I am from Australia and maybe the Australian market is a little different to the rest of the world (so please do take my two cents with extra salt).

When I first started out and wanted to become a professional magician, I called up 10 companies and offered to do a networking function for them for free, now I was rather tactical in that I had a condition. If they liked the performance they would each provide me with a testimonial (video or text) and I would be able to display these on my website along with their company logo. I just also want to add that at this point I made it 100% clear that they kept my arrangement with them confidential which they all agreed. After this I built a half decent website my self and put all these clients on there with the testimonials and approached another 20 companies saying that I charged $440 for my magic show and I remember precisely that I would get about a 10% conversion rate meaning I would get a 2 out of 20 strike rate and after this I realised that I had to learn about conversion optimising ie. why didn't the other clients book me etc (this is a whole other lesson in it self) but sticking to the topic, doing a bunch of free shows right at the start really helped me boost my credibility and also my experience in dealing with corporate clients. I am not saying this to gloat but this strategy has helped me get into Australia's biggest entertainment agency as one of their top performers (

I guess some of the posts above were correct in saying never do a show with nothing in return, always ask for a testimonial as a minimum even if you do a bad show and they don't give you one you gain the experience! One of my best business mentors Matthew Michalewicz always says "If you want to perform more, go and perform more."

Good luck my friend!
"Rather a mind opened by wonder, than one closed by belief."
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