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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Being A Magician...Is It Enough? (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Mindpro
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As mentioned before I am currently on my annual spring tour (started back in March and continues through June), and last night I had an interesting dinner and conversation with a fellow agent who I've known for years who often gets many of his acts through me, and one of his local/regional magicians.

While I usually do not like such dinners, I actually rather enjoyed this because of the discussion that took place. In beginning with small talk I asked the typical "so, how's business" and "how is your area doing"? The first of course just a common question and the second of course I already know the answer to as it is my job to follow and keep up on all markets and areas of the country for my business as well as others.

He of course gave me the expected of answers, then I asked the magician how things were going for him and his business. He responded with the answer that "today unless you are a kids magician, being a magician is not enough. If you want to work decently paying markets you must be more than a magician," I found this quite interesting as I tended to agree with him, but I guess to me it was refreshing to hear a magician speak so business-minded and honestly, as opposed to the typical magicians thinking that is so common.

My next thought was "I wonder if magician's from the Café would feel the same", so I decided to pose this question here.

This magician said he clearly had to restructure what it was that he was offering. With only a few exceptions schools don't want a magician, they want educational programs (that can have magic), country clubs, again with few exceptions, no longer want a magician, they prefer inspirational or motivational speakers (that can have magic), trade show no longer want just magic, but rather a message-based presentations, the luncheon circuit, scouts, chamber events -all want more than just a magician. Even restaurants are seeking more than just table magic.

With the exception of local fests, amusement parks and t.v. magic that still hire magicians, many of his prime areas of focus require magicians to offer more than "just magic" or "more than just a magic show." More context with additional benefits.

So the question is do the magicians here feel the same? Have you had to realign to be "more than just a magician" in today's marketplace (sans the kids market performer)?
WDavis
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Mindpro,

Thanks e is something I have long believed. I believe outside of consumer entertainment that yes you need more. I view it as the magic should augment the value you bring not define it. If we look at the education space, YouTube Vimeo, udemy, and others have structurally shifted the landscape to edutainment. Even tenured at universities are being corraled into the new education. In corporate, its entertrainment, be memorable, etc. part of it is the self promotion that's so rampant in our narcissistic culture, but the other part is because of instant gratification and ease of access - people are jaded.

My success has been to use mentalism as a means augment trainings, key notes, and that's what leads to private corporate events.
WDavis
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Mindpro,

The more I think about it, I don't think it's really anything new, but rather it's more evident do to technologies ease of access and people's self promotion.

For example, back in the 70-80s there was bill bye the science guy and even GI Joe had moral lessons for kids.
Mindpro
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I agree, but still think guys like Bill Nye were the exception. He identified and rose above the crowd in a business approach beyond what many others realized. As you've stated in another thread it is also about marketing, branding and positioning in combination with their performance. Some guys give me crap about creating a performance to the market, but it it these that tend to rise above the noise, rather than just creating a show and then trying to find someone (anyone) to try to sell it to.

Those that approach the business side (marketing, branding and positioning) at the same time as creating their show can often separate themselves from the others in today's market.

There is more to the dinner conversation I first mentioned above which I will add as this discussion unfolds with others as well.
Dannydoyle
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Not even close.

It has never been my experience that this is true. But it depends.

It can simply not be a one size fits all answer.

In my view you have it backwards. I mean I'm sorry to put it this way and it will seem mean but a good enough magician will have work. I never worked the school market outside of colleges so I have no idea what they want. Trade shows still hire magicians or at least me. Country clubs do also. Restaurants are perfectly happy with just a magician provided they are good at it. I think it has more to do with what is offered.

I don't think it is the market. Sorry but good magic done well still sells.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
WDavis
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Hmmm could be Danny, but I would argue it isn't the magic that is being sold. It's a fine line, I'm know, but every successful magician sells the "experience" or the journey rather than the magic. On the greater scale, theatrical themes are pretty standardized but packaged differently to sell a message/theme in a way that would appeal to the audience. And the corporate audience is more wanting trainings to generate Effeciencies and ROI. It's hard for employee satisfaction to be quantified, so they bake it into the trainings because training results can be measured by efficiency inprovements
Dannydoyle
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I do and book so many corporate shows it makes my eyes bleed. Not ONCE have I done one that had a "theme" other than me being there.

Again you can say it is "me" and not a "magician" if you like. But isn't that obvious? Isn't THAT the point anyhow?

I have said a gagillion times that I do not sell a magic show, I sell me. Selling magic as a commodity is not a very effective business model for me. I have clients who to this day believe I am the only one who can do what I do. (We know that is not even CLOSE to true!) But the experience they get, the whole thing leads them to WANT to believe it.

So is selling yourself as opposed to a product really news?

See in my view it is when people try to sell things they are NOT qualified to sell they run into trouble. Meaning I saw an idiotic book one time that said to go into a restaurant and claim you were an expert in promotions. HILARIOUS! You can do a double lift and suddenly you have cracked the code to the most difficult part of owning a restaurant. YOU have discovered the formula for cold fusion. Wow. Just based on doing a double lift. It is a claim you can't back up.

As far as I am concerned SO MANY of the "educational programs" fall into this category. More wishful thinking than experience. And BELIEVE ME they know a fraud when they see one.

Same with "team building". Oh lord do some guys just biff that so badly. Same with how to increase sales and any number of the idiotic programs people put out for corporate work. A shockingly large percentage of my work in corporate is just those who appreciate that it is a good show as opposed to some forced message being put forth.

Magicians have HOPEFULLY spent their time learning how to perform magic. So stick to that. You are not some marketing guru, some sales trainer, some anything else. Just do YOUR JOB WELL and work will not be far behind. Make claims you can't back up because of whatever and work will fall away.

IF you are a corporate trainer and have those skills, then using magic with them works. If you are an educator and have a program that you have worked on then go for it. But when guys step in to these fields and have no experience just to offer more, my suggestion is to work on your show. Just do what you know. OR go get educated in these fields. Just knowing some magic tricks does not qualify one to do these other VERY specific skills.

My suggestion is to jus try being really good at one thing. It is much easier.

This is just what I have found. Others may have other experiences and that is cool.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
lou serrano
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I love this thread! I think everyone has shared some great ideas all around.

I've now been in business for 23 years, and over 90% of my business comes from people who are looking for a magician. Sometimes they are looking for me specifically, sometimes they are looking for someone who just fits the bill, and other times they have no idea they'd like to have a magician at all.

I was hired to perform on a weekly basis at over a dozen restaurants over the span of 21 years. Every single time I was hired because of the entertainment value I brought to the table. The same with country clubs. The benefits of having me there never came into play when I was selling the restaurant on the idea of having me there. Every time it was because the owner or GM loved me. That's not to say they didn't see the benefits, for example the happy customers who came back to see me time after time.

Every private event and most corporate events are the same way. They hire me for the entertainment value I bring to the table. The only exceptions for me are trade shows and keynote presentations.

I'll give you one specific example. I was recently hired to perform in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. When I received the call they were only looking for after dinner entertainment at the end of a one-day conference. After speaking with them, and then educating them on the benefits of having me as the opening keynote speaker, they took me up on that offer. The event is in June, and I'm doing the morning keynote and then an after-dinner show. In order to book myself as the speaker, I had to be more than just a magician, but it wasn't the content or my topic that sold them on the idea. It was the results I was bringing to their conference. I promised to wake up the audience, energize the room, and get their conference started on a high note, so that the attendees would be in a great frame of mind to hear all the other speakers who were talking about some very technical stuff.

As a teacher and student of marketing , business, and sales, I use all of my knowledge to book the gigs that I do. I'm able to position myself as the best and most logical choice for my customers and clients.

As many of the people on the Café know, I'm an avid student of marketing, business, and sales. Most of the specific techniques, strategies, and tools I use are not common knowledge to most magicians. The reason is I've paid top dollar to gain some of this knowledge, and some of the things I do have come from years of trial and error.

David Hira out of Texas, who is a very successful magician, says that he has never sold a magic show. I find that fascinating! I LOVE the idea. David is much more successful than I am, and I'm eager to learn from him. He has a program coming up in September in Costa Rica. I just signed up. You can check it out here: https://www.actupnow.com/

That is not an affiliate link. I have nothing to gain if you sign up, but it would be great to see some other Café members join me there in September.

Just thought I'd share.

Interesting topic.

Lou Serrano
WDavis
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Lou, I'm of the same mindset as David, by establishing my value and my marketing they come to me. It's a subtle distinction.

Interesting you opted for the after dinner show from a key note. If not have done that personally, as in my view the after dinner show would have altered the dinner guests perception of me. I see this as keynote speaker = authority on subject. After dinner entertainment as entertainment. I personally view them as a separate positioning, but I can see how it would be a sell or perk to the dinner guests if you execute on the keynote and your performance was more of an intimite engagement that personalized the keynote points. A sort of mingle with the keynote vs the keynote will now entertain you. Again my mindset and I know it wouldn't work for me. But thanks for bringing this option to the table.
lou serrano
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Quote:
On May 18, 2017, WDavis wrote:
Lou, I'm of the same mindset as David, by establishing my value and my marketing they come to me. It's a subtle distinction.


My customers and clients come to me as well. All of my marketing is attraction marketing, but in most cases I'm still selling a magic show.

Lou Serrano
TomBoleware
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To the outside world magicians are unique people and I think they do get hired because of the magic. But I also think that the high demand for magic over other entertainment is not that widespread. Sure those in high demand places can wait on the phone to ring. But if you live in average America, magic is a lot like Life Insurance, very few people will just call the insurance salesperson wanting to buy a policy; the salesperson must reach out and suggest it, and then show them where they in fact do need it. Insurance people would starve to death if they didn’t knock on doors; so would the average magician if he/she depends solely on magic skills to cause the phone to ring. For most magicians it is a sales job too.

Tom
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www.amazekids.com/magic-downloads/childrens-magic-ebooks/the-daycare-magician/

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Dannydoyle
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Who said to wait for the phone to ring?

Before we go too far we should elaborate on just how many shows a week we are speaking about. Give some context.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Ken Northridge
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My opinion. No.

I have always found the addition of balloon twisting along with magic to be a very helpful in getting bookings for multiple markets, including restaurants. Years later (when the kids were grown) we added face painting by my wife. Again, I found it very helpful in getting bookings. I'd estimate we are now booked together, as a team, about 50% of the time.

And I wouldn't dream of offering a a magic show to a school without some kind of theme. I book some 'Just for fun' shows but that's not how I get my foot in the door.
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
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Jakub Vosahlo
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Mindpro, hello!
I think, that it is absolutely ok to be more than as you say "just magician"!
for a long years I was thinking about the same things as you are, after I finally realized, that I know so many things because of studying Magic, which I would never know if I wouldn't...
But now I'm greatful for them...
Who cares, if you go on a road show with product placement presentation, or message... who cares about educating children and giving them extra message to spread or point out some ideas... Who cares Smile?
Only we do Smile))
You know, that deep in your heart you are a magician as we all know it...
So I think we should put the best of our magic in other fields as well...
And we should let other fields enter our magic also Smile.
We are mostly living in a very free world, so if someone really wants jsut to perform magic, he or she can do so and it's great.
And if we will do just antyhing and alwas put our magic in it as best as we can at that time, that's great too!
I think, both sides of this coin are great!

Hope you understand my mind processes in Czenglish :-D
From Czech republic...
Jakub
Mindpro
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Quote:
On May 27, 2017, Jakub Vosahlo wrote:
Who cares, if you go on a road show with product placement presentation, or message... who cares about educating children and giving them extra message to spread or point out some ideas... Who cares Smile?
Only we do Smile))
Jakub



Hi Jakub, great hearing from you. While I agree and understand with some of what you are saying, it is a very "magician's" point of view.

We must remember when performing magic as a business, it is about more than just the magic and more than just what WE feel. Magicians tend to prefer to want to believe and only focus on the magic, but when performing for paid audiences and certain markets, more than just the magic comes into play.

Where we are located and the markets we perform also come greatly into play. Here in the states the expectation in many markets is it must be more than just magic. In trade shows, while some do have just magic performances, many companies as well as performers, prefer to use the magic as a format to deliver their more important message. Finding a magician that specializes in this is often perceived as a specific type of skilled performer. Same for schools here in the states. While a few events may want just a magic performance, most these days require a motivational or academic-based content to be truly considered.

So it is really not as much a choice in some areas and more of an expectation or requirement. Now as a magician, you can of course choose not to perform in these performance markets and just focus on performance markets where the magic alone is enough and acceptable.

In the original question I posed, I do believe magic can still be enough on its own, but only in specific performance markets, not across the board. By operating under this belief and approach you are doing so with the understanding that you will likely not be able to work or operate in certain performance markets. There is absolutely no problems with this if this is what you prefer accept and understand.

However, from a business perspective where often magicians are interested in the better paying gigs, working many professional markets, increasing weekday income, expanding to new or greater markets and operating on a level more than just as a consumer market magician, they often quickly find themselves asking the question that was originally posed by the magician that asked this of me.

There is much validity that when we add or offer more than just magic it can increase your value and perceived value in many circles and markets.

As performers we have to ask ourselves what is best for each of us. To some its bringing joy through performing their magic. For others it's proving information and education through the art that we love feeling perhaps it is a greater purpose or use of magic.

As I told the magician asking me this question, there are still markets where performing magic only is enough - amusement parks, resorts, cruises, etc.

We just have to each decide what we prefer and how we see and use the vehicle of magic.

I agree with you, both sides are great and can be what we choose for it to be.
Jakub Vosahlo
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Mindpro,well said!
Especialy your second sentence from the end...!
"DECIDE" is the perfect word for this topic! Smile
Jakub
Dannydoyle
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The idea that performance is primarily about you is flawed in many ways.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Sealegs
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Is being a magician enough?

Yes.

There has always been a desire within the general public to see performers that excite them, connect with them and hold them in awe. This is true for any of the performing arts, from music to clog dancing and everything and anything in-between. Magic is no different.

However, it has always been the case that what excites, connects with and holds an audience in awe, changes over time. These changes are often driven by the awareness offend technology but can also be caused by other factors.

Those that adapt to these changes, or maybe set in motion some kind of trend that spark these changes, will continue to find what they do as being... 'enough'.

A ray of hope for those that can't change so easily is that, of course, audiences' proclivities don't change en-mass overnight. Those performers that can't adapt to any changes might well find they still have more than enough of an audience market, that hasn't changed, to allow them to continue doing what they've always done, in the way they've always done it. That might mean that being, whatever they've been, is still, for them, and for the time being.... enough.

But in general, and over time, those that can't meet and/or exceed their audiences' changing expectations will inevitably find that, whatever it is they are doing, isn't any longer, 'enough'. Again this applies not just to magic but to many (possibly all) of the performing arts.
Neal Austin

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Sealegs
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Another, completely different way at looking at the question posed, is in the light of the current glut of: 'Random-county's Got Talent' shows that have sprung up across the globe.

These shows have a format that has changed things to some considerable degree in certain sections of the market.

The trick has always played a vital, but supportive role to the performer. But these Got Talent shows have turned that somewhat on it's head. The old idiom of, 'It's not what you do it's the way that you do it" need not apply on these shows. The trick can be allowed to be the most dominant feature of the performance or indeed more or less left to stand on its own. The aspects of the performers persona, character and personality that usually sell a performance can now appear in the program's backstory. Because of this, having no experience, no stage craft, and no act need not be the hindrance that it traditionally would be. Such performers can still do brilliantly well in these shows by relying solely on the effect and some kind of angle or gimmick in the backstory.

Interestingly the one's that manage to make their success last beyond the TV show often bring this same approach to their live shows. A new idiom of;" it's what you do and the degree of perceived celebrity that surrounds it' seems to work well for some of these performers even in live theatre shows.

I'm not knocking any of that either. I say well done and congratulations to those that can make this work for them. They are playing a new game, adapting to a new set of expectations and coming out on top. I can't do anything but applaud that regardless whether I like what is offered or not.

Of course, as time goes on the celebrity status that comes with these shows can very quickly fade. When for these performers it does, my hope is that they will have spent the stage time that has come their way to learn the stage craft, get the experience, and develop an act. Then, in the world beyond their faded celebrity, they stand a chance of winning accolades from their audiences from the way they do what they do rather than just what they do and who they are.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
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