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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Difference between $100 and $1,000 magician. (17 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Thehedge
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What sets apart a $100 magician and a $1,000 magician? Is it his or her clothes? Marketing? Website? Personality? Props? Skill level? Networks? Or is it simple as what he or she charges? Maybe it is a little bit of everything. I would like to know what the X factor is. Thoughts?
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
Dynamike
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It's the way they socialize.
BrianMillerMagic
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There's a world of difference between the $100 and $1000 magician, and it's no one thing. The fundamental difference is perceived value (how much you are perceived to be worth) - but what goes into that perceived value is everything you mentioned and more. I'm not going to dive in deep right now, but I'll say this:

10 years ago I couldn't imagine charging $200 for a gig.
5 years ago I couldn't imagine charging $500 for a gig.
Today $1000 is a normal gig (rather on the low end, actually).

In those first 5 years, my tricks changed often and my sleight of hand improved drastically. In the next 5 years, I hardly changed my material at all. Just something to consider.
Dynamike
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A lot of times it starts over the phone. What the prospect hears is very important. It is important the magician is speaking clear. The magician must have confidence on what he is speaking about. His speech must have the right words.

If in person the magician must good with the 3 V's, voice, verbal and visual. Look the prospect in the eyes showing his voice is great to listen to. The magician must know the right pitch inside out. It is best to show the prospect they are making a friend.

Posted: May 19, 2015 03:32 pm
The Great Zucchini dresses up in shorts and a tee shirt, but look how far he made it to the top: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTZ9uLUgsY4&feature=youtu.be His secret is the way he socializes. I know because I met him in person. I also watched him do lecture and a convention. He swept people off their feet.
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Mike are you $1,000 magician?
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
sjbrundage
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Interesting Question. I think it is all how much the magician thinks he is worth, How much he is willing to ask for, and Who are the clients he is getting gigs from.

When I first started booking gig's I remember quoting $300 for three hours of strolling and I didn't think they would book me because it was SO much money. LOL. Than a few months later I remember quoting $500 for a Bat Mitzvah in Westchester county. After the gig the lady mentioned I should be charging her a LOT more because I was good and would be able to get more money. On the drive home I vowed to charge the next bar Mitzvah... $700.. no $800... NO Maybe $1000. While talking to my girlfriend she was saying "that is too much" No one is going to pay that much for a magician. "Boy she was wrong"

Overtime I gained more and more confidence and starting to ask clients for $1500. While I did lose a portion of some of the clients who couldn't afford to pay that much.. It allowed me to make more money doing less gigs. I was doing the type of events that I wanted to do.

After all the crazy viral attention about 5 months ago.. It gave me a HUGE ego boost and allowed me to actually have some perceived value in my services.. Where I have no problem asking for $3000 for events... Do I get the $3000... sometimes.. A lot of times clients will come down to $2500.. Which I think is fine. Do I honestly think a few hours of strolling magic is worth nearly 3 grand.... LOL.. I couldn't even afford to book myself... But boy am I happy I can book gigs like this. If you asked me 1 year ago if I would ever book a gig for 3 grand.. I would have laughed at you and told you 5 years down the road.

I am still booking gigs for around the $500 - $850.. But I very wary about giving up the date incase a larger gig comes through that could pay $2400. I feel like I need to have a clause in my contract saying that If I give them the discount rate of $500 -$850 and I larger booking for $3000 comes in I will find another magician to fill in that date for me.

Posted: May 19, 2015 03:44 pm
What are you thoughts about telling the smaller booking that if another gig comes in that you will refer it to a friend? Is that an acceptable practice among professional magicians.
charliecheckers
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Quote:
On May 19, 2015, sjbrundage wrote:
What are you thoughts about telling the smaller booking that if another gig comes in that you will refer it to a friend? Is that an acceptable practice among professional magicians.


On a smaller scale, I face the same situation, but would never ever consider that approach. The only thing I might consider is offering a price that is discounted in exchange for timing flexibility of an hour or two the same day, so I could do another local event. I have on a few occasions asked for such with current clients who I have a great relationship with and where I am familiar with the event enough to know that a slight time change will not impact their event.
BrianMillerMagic
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Quote:
On May 19, 2015, sjbrundage wrote:
What are you thoughts about telling the smaller booking that if another gig comes in that you will refer it to a friend? Is that an acceptable practice among professional magicians.


Not that I'm familiar with and I would never do anything to imply that all magicians are interchangeable.
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As I was reading this thread I had a thought - I don't believe "perceived value" is the right phrase. Someone could create the perception they are worth more - but it doesn't mean they are. To sustain a price point, you have to provide value. The difference between the $100 and $1,000 magician or any type entertainer - the $100 one doesn't have the knowledge to bring that amount of value to the client.
Quote:
On May 19, 2015, sjbrundage wrote:
What are you thoughts about telling the smaller booking that if another gig comes in that you will refer it to a friend? Is that an acceptable practice among professional magicians.

You could leave a buyout clause in the contract, meaning if you don't do the show, you pay the contract price to the client. I've used the clause in a couple of contracts but only exercised it once. The idea came from a conversation with Denny Haney decades ago.
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sjbrundage
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Quote:
On May 19, 2015, charliecheckers wrote:
Quote:
On May 19, 2015, sjbrundage wrote:
What are you thoughts about telling the smaller booking that if another gig comes in that you will refer it to a friend? Is that an acceptable practice among professional magicians.


On a smaller scale, I face the same situation, but would never ever consider that approach. The only thing I might consider is offering a price that is discounted in exchange for timing flexibility of an hour or two the same day, so I could do another local event. I have on a few occasions asked for such with current clients who I have a great relationship with and where I am familiar with the event enough to know that a slight time change will not impact their event.


Yeah. This is one of the things I have been really thinking about and struggling with the past few weeks. About a month ago I got in touch with someone from new york who booked me for an event. The person is reputable and well known within the magic community. After performing at the event.. it went so well he has decided to sell me to one of his best clients who he does around 50 events for each year. So far since this last event I have gotten 4 calls within the week for gigs priced around $2400. Obviously he up-sells me to his client.. who up-sells me to the actually people having the event. From my understanding the people booking the event are probably paying $4500 - $5000 for my services.

My biggest issue now is saying yes to smaller bookings and missing out on these AWESOME event. Currently I already had 2 booking that didn't work out because I already had the day booked up. I have events on the other two dates but should be able to fit both of the events into my schedule. If I quote a local client $1500 and they say we can't afford that.. we only have $700 for the budget. Do I say yes to the $700 but have a clause in the contract that I can find a backup for the event, in case someone is willing to pay my full rate, OR do I just hand off the event to a friend.

Obviously I have a reputation to keep and I will stand by my work. I already turned down a $2400 for a $850 booking because the client had already booked me in the future and they advertised the HECK out of me for the event. I guess I need to find a balance that works for both ends of the spectrum, so I can book as much events as possible for the maximum profit, while maintaining my integrity as a performer.
Dannydoyle
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Quote:
On May 19, 2015, sjbrundage wrote:
What are you thoughts about telling the smaller booking that if another gig comes in that you will refer it to a friend? Is that an acceptable practice among professional magicians.


I have no idea what is or is not acceptable. I know only what I personally do.

I am hired by people not looking for a "magician" but who are looking to hire me. I do not like the idea out there That I am so easily replaced. While I know it is true I am not going to let the client know this. (Incidentally this helps with the perceived value idea.)

I sell me not a magician or hypnotist or comedian. This only an opinion. I have no idea what is or is not common practice.

If I agree to work for the money no matter what it is I show up. I would not want them to have a clause to be able to find a les expensive performer and cancel me.
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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Also, turning away high value events because you are already booked can serve to enhance your perceived value in that the client that you turn down realizes that you are in real demand. Especially in Sjbrundage's situation you can leverage it for the high priced opportunities to book far in advance for next year or so.

In reality, we all face moving up in class in steps where we have commitments and bookings below what we are currently booking at. My way to handle it is to be patient and grateful for the loyal clients that helped me get to where I am, while building up my higher priced gigs as they come.
Dannydoyle
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You will find that as you grow, you do not have as many shows, but have a balance of enough to cover the nut every month.

But you have to find clients to replace those who were at price range X and you will no longer be marketing to. You will move to price range Y. The key is to not turn down too many X price range dates while the Y range dates fill in. It is tough to figure at times and REALLY tough to get your head around NO I will not work for that.

Perceived value is wonderful. Problem is you can not pay the mortgage with it.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Tim Friday
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Actually Lou Serrano has an excellent contingency he uses that addresses exactly what is being discussed here about lowering your rate but with a contingency. It is a very professional way to handle this situation and clearly communicates everything up front for you and and client. I believe it is in his book.
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People typically perceive that there is greater value in a product they pay more for. Whether it is a Mercedes, Audi, BMW or performer - the higher the price, the higher the perceived value.

If the performer meets and exceeds expectations at the event, then the client will usually be thrilled regardless of the fee charged.

A good performer should properly set up & callibrate those expectations when interviewing the client by phone prior to event day.

Personally I'm trying to raise my prices at least yearly if not more often.

I'm originally from LA and I could certainly charge higher rates generally there than I can in my current town of Phoenix. I also try to avoid wedings and bar-mitzvahs etc - I'm not opposed to them mind you, but know from experience that in this market (Phoenix) people cannot typically afford my rates for these events.

My focus (what I choose to concentrate on) overwhelmingly is corporate and higher end parties and booking companies that work these markets. If I focused on the wedding circuit here I would probably not get more than $100-$200 per hour - that is what I know the local Magicians charge. By avoiding marketing to those segments I try to choose the playing field where I can charge higher fees.

My goal is to make no less than $1000 a gig and in the past few years that has been the rule rather than the exception. The more exclusive gigs (parties) also tip better generally...which I like Smile
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Mindpro
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It's been interesting hearing some of the thoughts on this topic. Thoughts come from different levels and perspectives. Truth of the matter is there is a huge difference between the $100 performer and the $1,000 performer, and the differences are many. If you don't understand the differences you are likely not the $1,000 performer. The differences for the most part are not typically understood by the $100 performer. It's threads like this that many will not understand, but those at the point of need or consideration of this will get much more clearly.

It's hard to discuss this because most are not $1,000 entertainers, so they almost always take offense to perspectives and advice offered. As an agent and entertainment broker I can immediately look at a performer, performance or promotional materials and know immediately their value on the market. Most are unable to do this. It's taken years of experience and having booked $100, $1,000, $10,000 and $100,000 or more entertainers. There are very notable differences.

I will tell you it has nothing to do with how they socialize, lol.

First and foremost is professionalism. Not the Webster's definition of professionalism but a multi-facted definition of professionalism (my students know exactly what mean as I have a narrow acceptance and toleration for any other expectation or definition). Someone here several months ago asked my about my definition of professionalism. I will see if I can dig it up and decide if I want to share it here as I think it came out of some of my private materials. But professionalism happens on many levels - at once.

Next is understanding market value and positions, how others perceive you, the circles you operate in, how you operate, the understanding of the hierarchy and different levels of entertainer (which I listed here previously) and you and your level of execution - performance, operations, value and compatibility. Then of course there are many components within your show itself and it's production. Also how you work with buyers, bookers, agents, promoters, press & media, etc.

Also usually $100 guys are performers, $1,000 are entertainers.

I will say this, if a so-called $1,000 performer books a $100 performance, he is a $100 performer. The whole idea of "if I am booked, I will offer the booking to other magician's I know" is a lower level mentality and strategy. Especially for a higher priced performer, you should be working hard to create an identity, branding and positioning to separate yourself from the others or anyone else, and by referring or recommending others, you are simply lumping yourself in with everyone else and doing the exact opposite of what you should be striving for. You are interchangeable and replaceable.

Now don't get me wrong, some just want to be the $100-$425 performer. If that's all you strive for, then the refer-a-friend concept may be fine for you. You are all magicians, you all do basically the same things, and you are all basically interchangeable. For those with few bookings or early in the beginning of performing for income, this can be a way to network and get out of your bedroom or basement.

It really needs to be understood that different mentalities and different approaches are conducive with different levels and price points of performers. It's one thing to say "I am booked but by buddy Magnificento is available and he does a lot of kids parties and is great with kids too", which is different from a $5,000 trade show performer that says, "I'm sorry I am previously booked myself, but have you considered Anton Zellmann? While he doesn't do the type of magic that I do, he does a great memory show for trade show clients worldwide which could be a different option for you." While they may appear to be similar, they are different in many ways on many levels. Again, the differences need to be understood.

Sbrundage brings up some valid and interesting points as it is obvious he is in a transitioning stage. We all go through it at some time (most professionals do) and it can be a struggle and even confusing one you attain the greater levels to let go of or try to accommodate your former level of clients and bookings. For some it's immediate and easier, for others they make it a process with disdain and reluctancy.

Then there's the whole working with middle operators (agents, producers, promoters, etc.) who will book you at one rate and sell you at a much greater rate. Remember, your price is what you sell yourself for, not what the middle operator sells you for. I've seen so many falsely believe they are worth the $4,500-$5,000 price range just because an agent or promoter sells them at that rate. They are not. All it says is the agent or promoter has clients that will buy at his price or he can sell at that price point. You can't or you'd be getting that kind of money regularly. If you declined, he would simply find another. That's one thing lower level performers don't realize when trying to get representation with an agency. They agent is concerned about who can meet their clients needs at the right price. Who is offering them the best AF price, allowing them the best margins. This is just the tip of the agent/agency iceberg.

Interesting topic and replies. This is one of those topics that is hard to get performers at such levels to talk about and that I've been fortunate enough to study intensely for decades.
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As Spock always said...

Facinating.
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Tim Friday
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I remember in his book Jamie D Grant suggests pricing your services at the same amount of the average rent/month in your city. I can't remember all the details or what qualifications he says you should have, I would have to look back at his book but it is an interesting way to think of it and it does take into account the cost of living in your area.
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Thank you MindPro and Brian Miller for you input into the discussion.

There are many factors to consider, but there is surely a difference. As I consider entering the realm of professional magicians, I would prefer to pursue a higher level cliental. I have enjoyed my hobby style performances, but my interest in magic draws me further. Now, I need to put in the extra work to build that worth and mindset.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
Sam Sandler
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While I agree with much of what has been said. I do believe perceived value plays a role.

i have a friend that changed his name, his wardrobe and style of performance as well as targeted a new level of clientele and went from the little shows to making a million dollars a year in just a few years time. but it all started with a name change and how he was perceived by others.

for me I think it is a mix of both the perceived value as well as the quality of your show and the experience you bring.

a beginner generally wont be charging $300 or $600 or more. where as some one that has been performing for many years will and should be able to demand more.

i myself a few years ago decided I should be making more and simply raised my rates dramatically. (keep in mind I had performed close to 10,000 shows at the time)
and I watched my clientele change almost over night. while I was still performing birthdays at that time I noticed I was performing for people that had HUGE houses. charging $350-$500 for a birthday party was getting me fewer parties at first but was making the same if not more working less.
i don't really do birthday parties much any more but if I get a client that wants me and willing to pay the price who am I to say NO to making $350 in 55 minutes doing some thing I love! and that is the flip side to this conversation. a lot of this comes down to what you are willing to work for or what you WANT to make.
some are happy making $200 a show - I could not live on that as this is my full time job and that is the other reason some need to charge more -its their livelihood.

i can tell you also that many times that birthday party netted me a bigger show for their company.
i did one party for a family and turns out he was the VP for fortune 500 company. we talked after the party and a month later booked me for their annual Christmas event where I made my full fee for such shows. which is why you should always bring your A game- you never know who will be in the audience.

so my point is - if you have a quality show, the experience, the knowledge needed then raise your rates and work towards the clientele you want to perform for.
but the real key is to make sure you have a show worthy of the rates you charge.

just my thoughts

sam
sam sandler- America's only full-time DEAF Illusionist
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