Not another thing on going pro!!

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Postby ace of kev » Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:05 am



Did you nail it the 1st time then, or did you approach a few before getting "the gig"?

Also, would there be an advantage of targeting independent restaurants over chains (eg. TGIs etc.) or not?

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Postby Jing » Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:29 pm

Great post, some really good advice.

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Postby TonyB » Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:52 pm

I have to disagree with the advice to go out and do gigs for free. In my experience free gigs only generate more free gigs. I do this for a living, not to satisfy my ego, so the gigs have to pay. And they did, right from the start.

Don't get suckered into working for nothing.

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Postby The4thCircle » Thu Jul 21, 2011 7:46 am

I must admit I've had similar thoughts along these lines and I picked up a book called Out of Your Pocket by Merlin T Shute.

It gives a lot of good advice around the specifics of restaurant magic and in the part on self promotion it says that the #1 rule is to never ever work for free.

I've never performed magic professionally but in my current line of work I have encountered a phrase that you'll probably hear a lot. It's commonly spoken to graphic designers and musicians, but it's also frequently heard in reference to technical roles, especially in start-up companies.

The phrase is, "If you do a little free work for us, it'll really raise your profile."

Whether it's drawing in an artist on the basis they they need to have their work on display somewhere, so it may as well be on the website of a cheapskate company, or telling a software engineer that a little free coding will pad their CV out a little. Some will even add that if you do free work for them, and it is successful, there could be paid work down the line.

There never is.

By doing anything for free you are merely establishing your perceived value in the workplace. The book also says that your pitch to any restaurant manager should reinforce that you are worth the price you charge. They don't care how good your show is if it doesn't put bums on seats.

At this point I'm a little out of my depth so maybe another member can verify this, but I'd say that if you want to raise your profile, find a place where you can perform with no affiliation for no purpose other than promotion of yourself. A trip up to the fringe, or some other event where street performance is seen as less of a low art (I know a few busking magicians and whilst their performances are wonderful, even they don't deny there is a certain stigma attached to it) could achieve this, though a more focused event would also be suitable.

If I wanted to get a reputation as a corporate magician, I'd probably wander round a trade show doing stand-up effects and making sure to hand out cards to all spectators. I'm not sure if there are trade shows for the owners of eateries...

I guess the point I'm making is that if you do a free nights work *for* someone, you're immediately lowering the chances of them paying you in future, bizarre though that probably sounds, and word will get out that you're cheap.

You don't want people to think you're cheap do you?

-Stacy

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Postby The4thCircle » Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:43 am

I just realised I never backed up thing about bums on seats. I'm at work right now so ‎I'll have to make this quick.

Say you did do a free nights work for a restaurant. What does it prove to the manager? It'll entertain the diners, but they're unlikely to actually inform the manager or any of the staff.

If you make a big deal of "Please tell the managers I'm worth it" you'll just seem needy. If on the other hand you simply present yourself as a free service offered by the restaurant, they'll feel no need to comment at all.

Even if they do, they're unlikely to say those magic words "We'll be coming back to see the magician again" because at this point you probably haven't established that there will be an again.

To show any increase in takings you'll need to work at least two nights, in the hope that people who saw you the first time will come to see you again, thus creating a clear increase in patronage of the restaurant. The second night there might be less people, just by chance fluctuations in the number of people eating out. Not everyone will be able to make the second night, or maybe they don't eat out that often. So how many nights of free work will you do before there's an increase? How long will it take to generate a proving trend? If you'd signed a contract for a few months, you'd have a chance to prove yourself. If not, a natural slump in the number of diners may lead to be being let go before you even had a chance to prove yourself.

Also, part of your success in generating customers will rely on your presence being well publicised. How much is the restaurant going to invest in promoting you if they aren't even paying you?

A deal such as this is contrary to all logic because not only is it not helping you, it's not even really helping the restaurant that you're investing all those nights in.

-Stacy

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Postby Magical_Trevor » Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:54 am

ace of kev wrote:Did you nail it the 1st time then, or did you approach a few before getting "the gig"?

Also, would there be an advantage of targeting independent restaurants over chains (eg. TGIs etc.) or not?


http://www.magicworld.co.uk/magic-shop/ ... e-DVD.html

In my opinion, this is the BEST advice when it comes to magic in / for restaurants - there are a tonne of these DVD's, but vol1 is by far the best when it comes to advice on how to approach a venue, when to perform, how to deal with staff etc - its a bible :D

Dan

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Postby ace of kev » Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:48 pm

Thanks very much! I'll definitely buy that when I have the cash. The effects on that DVD also look excellent. How practical are they? I know the DVD says all very practical, but sometimes they lie :P

And thank you as well The4thCircle, that gave me a lot to think about. That isn't something I had thought about before.

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Postby The4thCircle » Sun Jul 24, 2011 1:29 am

There was one other really cracking piece of advice in the book I mentioned, about the value of creating a showreel.

The advice it gives is to make a video of yourself performing for a group of friends at a dining table to show the kind of act you do in a restaurant setting (I assume from your original post that your intent was to gig in such a place).

I think in the modern climate this may be slightly out of date however. If I were ready to set out performing, and I wanted a showreel, I'd use a little extra layer of marketing smoke and mirrors as it were.

Invite some friends out for a meal at a restaurant, and tell them that you want to use it as an opportunity to try a little restaurant magic. Have one of them record your performance on a camera phone, as though it were done in an impromptu manner.

Then post this to youtube/facebook/other social media, with the focus of the video description being "we went to an awesome restaurant and saw a magician".

You then link to this from your web presence (site, blog, etc). What this does is very directly shows the advantage of your presence to the owner of places you'll be trying to get work from. It says "People who eat at a particular restaurant will blog about the experience to their friends, so long as the experience includes you."

Put the URL for this (get a short snappy URL, it's not expensive) on your marketing collateral (my partner who works in marketing taught me that term, it means cards, flyers, letter heads etc).

In fact for something I just thought up off the top of my head, that idea is so ingenious and nefarious, I wish I was ready to start performing myself so I could try it out...

-Stacy

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Re: Not another thing on going pro!!

Postby mindtelepathy » Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:59 am

If you are not sure how much to charge, you can always try to "feel" your customer. Here are different ways of doing it!
1) Name your price, (higher than you expect to recieve), and wait for reactions.
If they say , "WOW! thats expensive" , You can always find reasons for giving them a "reduction".
2) Tell them that your usual price is ####### pounds but for them you would really like to do it for only ********pounds.
3) Ask them outright how much their budget is for this performance.
4) Offer them a small percentage, (3-5%), of the profit for arranging everything.
5) Offer them a small percentage, (1-3%), of the profit from any gigs that come from someone whom they spoke to about you.
Don't feel bad about using these methods. They work.
Ronny

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Re: Not another thing on going pro!!

Postby magic4children » Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:03 pm

Nice post.
I was pro for 20+ years in South Africa. I arrived in the UK close on 6 year ago and without an existing market or any relationship with agents I was forced to take a job or starve. I went back to University at age 42 as part of my self-improvement campaign and retrained in a profession. I finally Graduated in November and came to the realisation that after three years of study and five years working for a boss, all I want to be is a pro Magician. There is nothing quite like it in this world and I encourage anyone who is thinking of going pro to pick up the wand and go for it.
Ken Kelly

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Re: Not another thing on going pro!!

Postby Acolophon » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:02 am

About the price to charge.
The best advice I ever received about charging was: find out the cost of an average round of drinks at the venue and multiply the amount by the number of attendees .
That's the basic cost, if you are the only performer. If there is more than one of you, you share the fee.
The logic is obvious. If you are performing at a dinner people usually accept the quality of the food but they remember if the drink or service is not 'up to scratch'. So if your performance is not worth a round of drinks to each spectator, practice some more, or come down market.

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Re: Not another thing on going pro!!

Postby Acolophon » Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:26 pm

What is this great desire to turn pro? I am an amateur and proud of it. Paul Curry was an insurance salesman, John Ramsey was a grocer. Need I go on? The word amateur derives from the latin amare: to love and I love magic.
I don't deride the professional. My mother 's advice on finding a job was to find something you liked doing and find someone to pay you to do it. It was good advice. The trouble is every occupation has a downside. Do you want to be doctor? Don't be too put off by blood, gore and vomit. How about an engine driver or a long-distance lorry driver: don't you want a home life? The same goes for magicians. You will spend more time travelling than performing and usually more time in cheap hotels than at home. If you want to make a living you'll have to travel.

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