The Magic Caf
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Table hoppers & party strollers » » Making your living as a close-up performer (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Pascal V
View Profile
New user
Toronto
7 Posts

Profile of Pascal V
Hello guys, this is a big and direct question --how much can an average serious performer make just doing close-up? If there is some professionnal on-line I would be interesting to get an estimation. The market is big, and the serious performers are not so numerous. I mean those who are more interested in building an act that entertains people, rather than to fool people with the latest trick available without sharing any emotion.
If I ask this question it is because I am thinking seriously of becoming a professional.
I am currently in a comfortable executive position, but my passion for magic is getting me to the point that I am seriously studying the question. Some of you have been doing magic for a long time, so your advice and experience are precious.
Do you think that restaurants and private parties are 2 fields that could support your living, or do you necessarily need to target the corporate field, which I have already good knowledge of, but from the other side.
Please share your thinking to the magical community to create more professional and serious performers. Because I saw too many bad magicians with no manners that are so far from a Eugene Burger, my favorite performer, because of his thinking.
Magic happen in spectator's head
PaulGreen
View Profile
Inner circle
1130 Posts

Profile of PaulGreen
I am one of those lucky enough to make a living by performing. I would say that almost 90% of my performances are done in the Strolling mode.

I make my performances valuable and therefore the payment is good. Value for money--What a concept!

It is very hard work, getting the work. There are many restaurant workers that work 5 days aweek, or more, that use their perfomances as "auditions" for more lucrative gigs. Marketing one's self is not easy--It is attainable. Just keep on working at it!

You can do it--if you have the talent--and the drive.

Regards,

Paul Green
Peter Marucci
View Profile
Inner circle
5389 Posts

Profile of Peter Marucci
Pascal, you may be going at this backwards:
You know what you are earning right now; figure out how much you would have to earn, and how long it would take you, to come up with the same figure doing table magic.

And DON'T forget the benefits package, which can be as much as the salary! You probably have that in your current job but you most certainly won't have it as a contract magician.

Then, and only then, start approaching places with a solid sales plan that shows them what YOU can do for THEM, not the other way around.

And, if you are incredibly lucky, you might find a place that will (a) hire you, and (b)pay you something almost close to what you were earning.

Then don't forget to factor into your costs all the expenses that you don't have right now: Your dry-cleaning costs alone will skyrocket, for example. (And you pay for these extra, new costs out of your own pocket.)

Paul is right in his post: It is very, very hard work. And every job you get is like being hired all over again. You may have to do this once a week, unless you are lucky.

Your profile says you are in Toronto.
Having lived there in the past for more than 20 years, I can assure you that it's a tough area to do tablehopping magic in, despite it's cosmopolitan veneer.

Last of all, don't forget the old joke:

Question: What's the difference between a table-hopping magician and a large pizza?

Answer: A large pizza can feed a family of four.

cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
Pascal V
View Profile
New user
Toronto
7 Posts

Profile of Pascal V
Thanks for your input, Peter, I understand what you are saying. This is why I was wondering if focusing on corporate magic and designing my magic this way was more viable.

Peter, if you are in Ontario, maybe I could meet you sometime ? I like meeting with serious performers.
Magic happen in spectator's head
Pascal V
View Profile
New user
Toronto
7 Posts

Profile of Pascal V
I would like to thank Paul Green for his reply. Is there other professional who could talk about their professional life.
How they made it and what mistakes they made at the beginning of their carreer that we should avoid, also what was their previous job ?
For those who are semi-pro how do they manage their 2 jobs
It seems that this thread has been already read by quite a few.
So this topic appeal to many performer.
In any profession, you can find your mentor but in magic, excepted Paul Green it seem that they are not a lot of pro who promote their profession.
I mean as a profession not a hobby.
How do you see the future of magic?
Is there still a potential in your opinion and if yes in wich field ?
I know it is a lot of question, but a forum is for that no?
Thanks for your input and sorry if the style of my writing is not perfect, because english is not my first language.
Magic happen in spectator's head
p.b.jones
View Profile
Inner circle
Milford Haven. Pembrokeshire wales U.K.
2642 Posts

Profile of p.b.jones
Hi,
I did not respond to your first post as although I am a full time pro I do not make my living soley from close up.

I could be wrong but I think that unless you live in a very large town/city or are already quite famous to make a living just from close up would involve a lot of travelling and late evenings. However I know several pro's who work this way and are very happy (financialy at least).

The way I tend to work is 97% within a 25 mile radius (although I have the sea in one direction less than 1 mile from my door)
to do this I work in most fields - Kids, Families, cabaret/stage, close up ext.
fourtunately I am well known and popular so to some extent I can pick and choose. I never work more than 3 nights and then I am usualy home by 10.30. I am not rich, but I do not have to worry about money either.
Prior to going full time as a magician I was Manager of a Hands on science centre. I earn many times more from magic than running the centre (but I did when I worked there too)

I see the future of magic as being rosy. when one avenue shuts another generaly opens
(just look at close up magic over the last 20 years in the Uk)

phillip
Stuart Hooper
View Profile
Special user
Mithrandir
759 Posts

Profile of Stuart Hooper
I would say that if you are going to be a magician some kind of stage/large show work would generate more revenue, but maybe thats just me. Most my money comes from the stage, and most my work is closeup. Then again I am not full time and do not have a great cafe gig or anything. Be different. Don't do the normal thing. Thats what blaine did and hes set. Smile
Peter Marucci
View Profile
Inner circle
5389 Posts

Profile of Peter Marucci
P.B. Jones raises one other point that I had overlooked:
Most of your work now is Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, I would assume.
In the jump to magic, plan on ALL your work being nights and mostly weekends.
You may be ready for that but is your family?
BTW, Pascal, I'm only about an hour west of you.
E-mail me and maybe was can get together.
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
JBmagic
View Profile
Regular user
New Jersey
110 Posts

Profile of JBmagic
Heya Pascal V.

I spent some time working "full-time" as a close up magician. It wasn't a long period of time, it was about 3 and half years.
I started out taking a pretty serious hit to my previous salary when I made the jump. I basically peddeled myself to any resaurant/club willing to listen to my pitch. I went out everyday for 8 hours and hit every single venue that I could think of within about 30 miles of my home. by the third week I stumbled upon a restaurant willing to give me a shot.
We began terms on a level of "We'll pay you what your worth" basis. I knew my goal was to increase their business, and they knew that I expected to be paid VERY well for this job. I was willing to work a few weeks for a lesser pay than I felt I was worth, until they saw the value that I added to their establishment.

Long story short, we both kept our ends of the deal. By the 3rd week I had boosted their nightly seats by 300%. I did my most commercial routines, the stuff I knew people loved. The stuff I knew I could do really well. I didn't pull out any "old and dustys" and I didn't try to work in any new material for that first few weeks.

After a few months I had the house packed every night, they upped my salary per hour and I was making more than i had ever thought. They extended me to 5 nights a week, 3 hours a night. I didn't balk at this as my intent was to hone my skills.

Later (my second year) they featured me in two of their TV commercials (locally ran) and I negotiated for them to feature a line at the bottom of the screen that read "also available for private functions!" along with my name and phone number. Shows began rolling in like I had never imagined.

In what seems like an instant I lost control and burned out.

I fell apart both in my magic and out of it.

I don't regret it for a second, as I now see there was a lesson i had to learn, but it has taken me almost 5 years to feel "ready" again. Within the next two months I will be out there again, this time a tad smarter on the business end of magic.

But to answer your question, even locally I made a ton of money with magic, but then again I did it for the love of the peoples entertainment, and not for the money.

I wish you the best, I know that you will do awesome out there, and in turn... you will make what ever you want Smile

Good luck!

Jay
Jay Buchanan
p.b.jones
View Profile
Inner circle
Milford Haven. Pembrokeshire wales U.K.
2642 Posts

Profile of p.b.jones
Hi,
Further to mithrandir's post. I do not have a large stage show. But I do perform a 40mins
stand up cabaret act. This is great for boosting your income, quick to set up and break down yet plays big. I can get more for this spot than a couple of hours strolling. but that's not the only advantage. often you can sell the client the cabaret spot and the strolling this really bumps up your nights income.
Phillip
Dennis Loomis
View Profile
1943 - 2013
2113 Posts

Profile of Dennis Loomis
I've been a stage and platform performer most of my career, but do accept walk-around engagements. I do NOT have an extensive repertoire, but I have a few strong things. I've always "cheated" by doing some things from my stage work in close-up. If I'm strolling, and stuck in one spot, often a fairly good size group of onlookers builds up, and I'll do the Thumb Cuff escape routine, a rope routine with long and short, cut and restored, sliding knot, etc., an egg bag, and so on.

Fees are all over the place for close up work, of course. Corporate work is probably best, and I usually ask $1000 per day for trade shows. (I don't do a lot of them, but that's not high in that market.) Corporate close up work in Northern California is in the the range of $200 per hour. I've occasionally gone to Las Vegas to do some walk-around. They expect to pay plane fare, one day's living expenses, and $250 to $500 per hour.

I'm sure that Paul Green is in this league...maybe he makes a lot more.

Question is: are you worth it? How many years of experience do you have?

I've never done it, but I think the answer is that yes, you can make an excellent living doing nothing but close up... if you're good enough.
Itinerant Montebank
<BR>http://www.loomismagic.com
Scott F. Guinn
View Profile
Inner circle
"Great Scott!" aka "Palms of Putty" & "Poof Daddy G"
6586 Posts

Profile of Scott F. Guinn
While I agree wholeheartedly with Dennis' last sentence, I don't think it's enough. I am currently the only full-time performing magician (that I know of) in Idaho. There have been several others come and go.Some are now completely out of magic, and some still do it, but had to go back to their "day jobs." Some were as good as me, a few maybe better, and a few worse.

The reason i'm still going stronger than ever is not because I'm a better magician. It's because I'm a better marketer and a better businessman, and I understand what it takes to make people happy with the entire transaction, not just the show.

I would highly recommend you get some sales, marketing and customer service training. at the very least, go to your local bookstore and buy some books on these areas. provided you have the skills magically (including showmanship and "presence"), what will make or break you is how well you market yourself and handle the client, and how well you can "close the deal."
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
My Lybrary Page
Pascal V
View Profile
New user
Toronto
7 Posts

Profile of Pascal V
Thank you everybody, I appreciate your sincerity, Scott I agree with you, currently as a National sales managaer, I am still reading one book per month regarding the marketing or the management.
I think I undersatand what you mean by selling yourself.
There is not a big difference by selling a product.
In my business, we are selling a high-end product. the most expensive on the market.
What is the recipe to succeed :

1- having a good product :
- a product that answer the consumer needs
- a product with a so high quality that it is 200% satisfaction guarantee

2- Make your customer know that your product is the best :
- via a high-end merchandising (display, information, brochure on shelf,Packaging, shelves enhancer...)
- via a good advertising

3- Choose your distribution network.
- If it is a high-end product you will probably choose to distribute your product on a specialist market not on grocery stores where your customer do not get any advice.

4- Deliver your product on time (good logistic)

5- Have the best consumer service.
800 number, and treat any complain with serious.
A happy customer is your best advertising.

So if we take each points above,
I think everybody can apply those to sell his act :

1- Having a good product : Reharse your act, your patter, as Eugene burger say :
It increase your confidence, and then your can better interact with people
Make your product at least 100% guarantee

2-Let your customer know that you have the best product :
Use the most reference you can get, ask your happy customers to send you a satisfaction letter
Hand out brochure or business card to all your happy customers, their advertising is more important than their $10 tip.

3- Choose your distribution network:
If you do not feel comfortable with magic for kid, do not target family reataurant.
choose your market according to your aspiration.

4- Deliver your product on time,
Never be late, and if you can not be available one night find a good replacement
That is really pro.

5- Have the best consumer service, always sell what your good at and if your customer ask you to do a mentalism act and you do not have strong material to propose in that field find a good performer for your customer and why not negociate a commission with this performer.

Ok I was long, but you know Scott, This is actually my work. This message can seem obvious, but "the sale" is an obvious topic. it is just a question of common sense.
But everyday I meet with people who just do not want to think about it and who are loosing sales because of it.
Ok that was not really about magic,
sorry about that.
Magic happen in spectator's head
trickster2000
View Profile
Loyal user
Toronto
279 Posts

Profile of trickster2000
i also want to thank you guys for sharing all the advice with everyone...
Pokie-Poke
View Profile
Special user
Bensalem, PA
883 Posts

Profile of Pokie-Poke
this is why I have my partner do this. I can do the act, can eaven sell it if needs be but the busness end of it can be a full time job, this has nothing to do with magic or perfoming, but can still be 40++++hours.
when should give up your day job?? when it gets in the whay of your magic job more than the magic job gets in the way of it. if this makes sence Smile
www.pokie-poke.com
The Adventure cont...
Thoughtreader
View Profile
Inner circle
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
1565 Posts

Profile of Thoughtreader
It IS possible to make a living doinf nothing but close-up however it is hard work. As has been mentioned before, one of the biggest mistakes new magicians make is not having enough knowledge about the business end of show business. Remeber, it is two words, and each of them is equally important.

That said, make sure you get some good books on the subject and that you have a top quality show otherwsie you are in for a very sorry lesson too. If you have a carppy act that is not worth what you are charging, you will not only stop earning a living real quick but will kill it for other professionals in the area too.

It is possible, with a little traveling to land several restaurant gigs that are either one or two nights each. The nice thing about restaurant work is that except for Sunday brunch's, it is in the evening which allows your says to be free to do business luncheons and trade shows (which is another excellent way to earn a great living with close-up, and so I recommend the works of Mike Rogers, Jim Ryan, and Bud Dietrich to name a few)

In any event, if you were to land a restaurant gig on a Monday night with one restaurant, a Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday with perhaps a chain where you appear on a particular night in each restaurant and perhaps a Sunday bruch, you would be well on your way to earning a full time living from close-up magic. If you happen to land a "corporate" type restaurant where there is a more upscale clientele, it can sometimes be a great door opener for trade show and hospitality room work too.

Then if you start to look at small surrounding areas and small towns within an hours drive or so from your own town, you can expand your territory even more and easily with some work have work 5 days a week or more for yourself. Be careful though and don't over do it or you will also learn how easy you can burn out too. Working as a professional does take some of the fun out of it as it is no longer a hobby and instead is your work.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
Canada's Leading Mentalist
http://www.mindguy.com
AB StageCraft
http://www.mindguy.com/store
Magique Hands
View Profile
Loyal user
Lincoln, NE.
247 Posts

Profile of Magique Hands
When I first began in the close-up world, I really believed that I could make a good living from just the close-up work. Along the way, I soon found out that I make better money, performing in the stand-up and small stage venue (imagine that!)

My close-up work in the restaurant is actually the springboard for the stand-up shows. I quickly went to work on a sellable 35 minute stand-up/platform show. It's the table-hopping gig, that opens the bigger doors.

Might I suggest that you work on a nice stand-up show yourself? You'll be amazed at how many people will inquire about you performing for their parties and such, just by seeing you perform the close-up venues.

One thing you may notice, is that each venue is seasonal (at least for me it is.) In other words, during the months of June through September, I heavily sell my walk around show for wedding receptions, retirement parties, family reunions and the like. Then during the Holiday season, I'm primarily performing my 35 minute stand-up show for company Christmas parties, award banquets and such. It seems that each Holiday season, I book those shows from many of the people that I've performed for in the close-up arena.

Because my table-hopping magic is my bread-n-butter, I'll never give that up. Also, being able to sell 2 different venues, gives me a break from the dreaded 'same old-same old rut'.

Mr. Marucci is correct in stating that your costs will most likely skyrocket. If you book in other nearby cities and such, your traveling expenses will be more (although you may be able to include travel expenses in your contracts... I do.)

Having mentioned many of the cons, as well as the pros, I wouldn't give up this (my) dream for anything!

Don't Give Up the Day!
- - Troy
"If you go around sprinkling Woofle Dust on everything... people will think 'My... What an odd character." www.magicmafia.com
Pokie-Poke
View Profile
Special user
Bensalem, PA
883 Posts

Profile of Pokie-Poke
yes Troy good point, many lay person don't understand that ther is a difrence between stage and close up, to them it is all magic!(And now I will make a Tiger apear... ops forgot the big box...pick a card??) Smile
www.pokie-poke.com
The Adventure cont...
Alan Munro
View Profile
Inner circle
Kentwood, Michigan, USA
5854 Posts

Profile of Alan Munro
Here's what I recommend, although I'm just a part-timer. Some of my friends are full-time, in the business. I've observed that the most successful ones have the ability to schmooze. They can develop a strong rapport with a wide variety of clientele. Without this rapport, it doesn't matter how good you are!

Sure, you have to be good, but strong social skills are a must. If you eventually get a restaurant gig, you won't keep it long without a strong rapport with the manager and the customers.

A logical step would be to volunteer to perform for charities in your area. Contact as many of them as you can to get the performing experience at their events. Then when you have some solid performing experience, you may want to approach some restaurants about performing. Get the Kirk Charles book, about restaurant magic, before you do. Upscale restaurants will be a better environment for making corporate contacts, but it is best to start in family restaurants, to get the restaurant experience.

Read everything you can about corporate, restaurant and strolling work. There are also a lot of good tapes by tradeshow workers. See some of the tradeshow guys work -- Bill Goldman, Dick Stoner, Eddie Tullock, Jeff Bibik, Paul Gertner, Charles Green III, etc.
Garrett Nelson
View Profile
Special user
644 Posts

Profile of Garrett Nelson
And read the article on Tom Mullica in Magic this month. Very interesting.

Smile
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Table hoppers & party strollers » » Making your living as a close-up performer (0 Likes)
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2022 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.07 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL