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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Four Walling (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

tacrowl
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There have been a lot of conversations here about four walling - so I thought this interview with Jim Barber of Branson, MO. may be of interest to some of you:
http://entertainment-experts.com/the-job/
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

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Mindpro
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Very nice Tom. The information he discussed is so true and he really only scratched the surface of it. This is a topic that is so misunderstood and can get very deep on many levels.

He also touched upon something that is also quite commonly misperceived, which is the ways things truly are today in Branson, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Reno/Tahoe, and other entertainment or performance markets, is that 98% of all show and performances are not booked or hired by the venue, but rather leased and self-produced (2 or 4 Wall) by the performer.

I often discuss this with other entertainers who always seem to have a hard time believing so, but it is the simple truth and will likely remain this way. To these venues today it's more of a real estate game (they're looking to lease their space regularly and consistently for a established and consistent income) than it is about entertainment. Sad in many ways, but the true reality.

I must say about you Tom, I like how you ask the questions and then let your guests speak. It seems many hosts or interviewers these days always seem to want to talk, interrupt the guest, and make the show about themselves. You allow the guests to get into a nice rhythm and this allows them to really open up and share the information and get to the good stuff. Great Interview.
Dynamike
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Thanks for the link Tom.
charliecheckers
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Quote:
On 2014-01-07 11:18, Mindpro wrote:
To these venues today it's more of a real estate game (they're looking to lease their space regularly and consistently for a established and consistent income) than it is about entertainment. Sad in many ways, but the true reality.


Mindpro, can you elaborate on how the shows being conducted this way is sad? Does that mean from the performers perspective, the audience? Or both?

Tom - that was very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
Mindpro
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Quote:
On 2014-01-07 21:47, charliecheckers wrote:
Quote:
On 2014-01-07 11:18, Mindpro wrote:
To these venues today it's more of a real estate game (they're looking to lease their space regularly and consistently for a established and consistent income) than it is about entertainment. Sad in many ways, but the true reality.


Mindpro, can you elaborate on how the shows being conducted this way is sad? Does that mean from the performers perspective, the audience? Or both?


Sure. Yes, it means from the perspectives of all of the above.

Living in Las Vegas for many years, and performing in most if not nearly all of the major tourist areas in the U.S., and up until more recently all of these markets had venues (theaters, casinos, clubs, showrooms, etc.) that all wanted the best, most possible acts at their venue. The entertainment was they key draw and commodity. There would often be a bidding frenzy, where these venues and promoters would offer huge amounts of cash, perks, bonuses, incentives, accommodations and even back-end to try to get the entertainers to sign with their venue.

A good entertainer would hear all offers, factor in additional factors (such as perhaps one venue or management company may also has properties in other markets that you could play as well), then accept the offer of their choice. The media would cover the news, a frenzy would happen and the promotional machine would begin. The entertainer was the hot commodity and the venues invested in you the entertainer to entertain the guests their promotional machine would bring in. The spent absurd amounts to promote you in order to get a return on their investment and of course the venue would bring in people who would also buy their drinks, eat their food, and spend time and money at he other offerings (pool, casinos, etc.) and of course the house would typically win big. Lets face it, Vegas and most tourist areas were built on this formula.

Customers would win as they would see a great show at a great venue that went out of their way to get their business.

Entertainers were a valued commodity, and not just the headliners, this occurred on all levels. I remember one venue that paid me for an entire year under contract while they went through renovations just so I would stay with them and to prevent others in their market from getting me or me going elsewhere. This happened with most performers. Their was an appreciation, respect, and a strong desire for a good healthy relationship between artist, venue and management.

Today, it's all gone. Currently only a couple of dozen high-profile DJs are each earning between six and thirty million dollars. They happen to be the only bidding frenzy in entertainment today. All other entertainers are no longer perceived the same way. Entertainment is no longer the main or valued commodity as it once was. Today food, alcohol, gaming, pools (and alcohol), sports, and many other things are now priority.

The only way an entertainer can now operate on this landscape is to self-produce (and self-promote) their own show. Today instead of negotiating your show and performance details, it's about getting the best lease deal you can, just as in real estate and retail.

The venue makes their money off of the venue rental. A single venue may be leased to one performer for a 2:00 p.m. show, another performer may lease the very same room for a 4:00 show, and the same at 7:00 and 10:00. Get 'em in, and move em out. The entertainer now has to spend 95% of their time and efforts (and money) promoting and doing the business behind the shows (advertising, media, ticket selling, partnerships, time-share deals, harvesting relationships with ticket brokers, and so on.) It's no longer about the show, it about the business.

Because these rents are so high and the promotion, advertising, and broker costs are so ridiculous, the entertainer has to charge extremely high ticket prices creating less of a draw, or in order to have a decent crowd they resort to papering the room.

Today the only one that wins is the venue. The odds of an entertainer succeeding are reduced to practically nothing, the customer has to pay crazy high rates which means they can only afford to see one or two shows rather three, four or five in a week, if they come at all.

It's sad in the sense that entertainers have been diminished to tenants, rather than being based on their talents, draw and shows.
Dannydoyle
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This has been happening for a while now. It is a sad trend and getting worse.

Here is the worst part. It is NOT the fault of the venue. There are a LOT of factors that are caused by performers themselves. For those of you who do not believe a bad performer affects you, think again.

What has happened is simply expansion. LIVE entertainment has gone downhill. It has become too easy to see, and is under appreciated by the public at large. If you can see it in SO many places really close to home, there is almost no point in going to a tourist destination to see it now is there? Having SO many venues with the explosion of casinos outside of a few places does not help, rather it hurts. Entertainment used to be a reason to go to a destination, not so much any more. It is just how our society is moving.

Having so many entertainers with the explosion of contest shows is also not the best thing in the world for entertainment. The more of a "thing" you have, the less value each individual "thing" has. It is a simple economic formula. Now if you add to this the fact that there is a LARGE number of people out there entertaining who have little business doing so charging a PREMIUM price for the tickets it tends to devalue what others are doing. It is simple.

Live entertainment has hit a valley. It is simple. It happens. Right now society is completely enamored with tech. They love the new gadgets, and they get their live entertainment fixes in small bursts on You Tube. Otherwise it is large scale shows of multiple millions of dollars trying to compete, It is the way life is right now. It is what it is. Not an insurmountable problem by any means, just one that needs some clever thinking.
Danny Doyle
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charliecheckers
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Mindpro and Danny- thanks for discussing these points you shared. Not that I am pursuing these venues, but I find the discussion fascinating. It is sort of a behind the scenes look at what most Americans ever stop to consider.
Jim Snack
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Very good interview, Tom!

Contrast your interview with a segment from the TV show Shark Tank that I happened to catch last night in which a young magician from Cleveland asked for $1.2 million to bankroll his dream of doing a show in Las Vegas. The sharks tried to school him on his naivety about the realities of an unknown being successful producing in Las Vegas, but he just didn't get it. Needless to say, he didn't get a deal either.

Jim
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charliecheckers
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This thread encouraged me to search out Jim Barber in Branson (via Google) and it seems he has moved on to other ventures after ten years there.
From his former site:
"Jim Barber is a Branson, Missouri based entertainer and multimedia developer. For ten years he co-produced and co-starred in the Hamner Barber Variety Show with illusionists The Hamners. Jim now performs for major events across the country and freelances as a destination marketing consultant. Visit his website jimbarber.com. [Read More About Our Branson Theater …] - See more at: http://www.hamnerbarber.com/2013/07/15/thamners-announce-unbelievable-plans-for-2014/#sthash.P8or0ZtP.dpuf"

His website is currently down for revision.
tacrowl
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Charlie -
When this interview was recorded, Jim was about to enter his last year of headlining in Branson. Ten years, in my opinion, is a success story. Others who have posted on the Café and offered paid advice/books/courses don't begin to have that sort of track record. In fact, that is why I started Entertainment Experts - to talk with people who have actually achieved the things others are claiming they can teach. (And my experts all offered this knowledge and insight for free...)

Glad you all liked the interview and thanks for contributing your thoughts.
Tom
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Dannydoyle
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If you want to chat with Jim let me know. He is a close friend.

Jim is a success story on many levels. These e is a lot going on calendar n get town. In a town where a HUGE percentage of shows fold up in a yearly or two Dave and Jim held it together for a decade. All the while tourism in the town having MAJOR troubles of its own.

Jim is one of the very best at what he does. Of this we can have no debate.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
charliecheckers
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Please understand, I by no means was intending to imply anything to suggest lack of success. Ten years seems like an eternity for me. My only disappointment was for personal reasons, in that I was looking at his show as a potential destination some day. I had heard of Branson, only through my discussions here, on TMC and this was the first time I actually began to research it as a vacation location. It was clear from his interview with Tom that Jim's work is to be admired and I found it inspiring. Jim even mentioned in the interview that he believed one could quite possibly do better monetarily seeking outside opportunities (outside of Four Walling at Branson). So when I saw he was moving in a new direction, I was excited for him.
charliecheckers
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Tom, I want to also let you know you probably cannot realize what a privilege it is for me to read your posts and contributions. The excitement I get from things like your interview and the resulting contributions from the others is a real thrill for me. In fact, after hearing your interview and reading the follow up comments from Mindpro and Danny, I was thinking how incredible this exposure is for someone like me and how fortunate my generation is. I hear comments sometimes about how my generation will never experience the sharing opportunities afforded to those during the "Brick and Mortar Shop" days. While this is true, I would not trade those stories for the ones I hear on this forum. Your discussions take me places I literally can only dream of.
tacrowl
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Charlie -
I didn't take your comment as implying anything. I just took the opportunity to point out that years of success in a field provide insights that many of the "guru wanna-bees" simply can not provide.

BTW - if you head to Branson, take Danny up on meeting with Jim. He is a great!
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Donald Dunphy
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Thanks for all that you do to help others, Tom!

And thanks to Jim for opening up and sharing with us.

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
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