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Topic: Demo Tape Requested, But I Don't Have One!
Message: Posted by: Danny Diamond (Dec 15, 2005 10:27PM)
A woman emailed me and asked about my show and rates. She is setting up a Blue and Gold dinner for the Spring. After some correspondence, she liked my price and the sound of my show, so she said “it sounds like you have what we are looking for!”. Then a short while later, she emailed asking if I had a demo tape for the person who reviews the talent.

Well, I don't have one.

I know I SHOULD have one, but the fact is, I don't. I plan on telling her I do not have one, but that I am willing to meet with the person in charge of the talent, and even do a routine or two for them. The show is only one town over from me, so meeting in person with the client would be very easy.

I think an actual meeting and a performance is the next best thing to a demo tape. What do you guys think? Is this a good approach, given my predictament?
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Dec 16, 2005 12:47AM)
Forgive my bluntness, but the question doesn't make sense.

Of course it's the "next best thing." Maybe it will satisfy her, maybe it won't. It isn't what she asked for. Online video would probably satisfy a request like that, and most Blue & Gold Banquets I've played (and arranged in my days as cubmaster) don't have near the budget to expect a performer to go out of his way to solicit the work ("Demo tape? You've got to be kidding, lady, you only have $100 in your budget!")

Get some video, get a brief tape/dvd (and it should be BRIEF, not give away the whole act) and get it online as well.
Message: Posted by: Jim Snack (Dec 16, 2005 05:25AM)
While I agree that having a video demo tape is useful, particularly when having agents represent you, it's not really necessary at the Blue & Gold level. Put together a pocket folder stuffed with testimonial letters, a great photo or two, a one-sheet flyer on your show, names of references they can contact, and send that to them. If and when you visit the committee, apologize for not having a video, explaining that no one has ever asked for one. Then offer to give them a break on the show if they allow you to videotape it so you can create a demo tape.

Keep in mind that videotapes are used to eliminate performers anyway. The committee sits around a TV and watches only a minute or two before they say "Next!" If your tape doesn't grab them right away you can forget the booking anyway.

It's just one of your sales tools. A personal sales call is another. The only problem with that sales strategy for the Blue & Gold market is that you are investing a lot of time into a show that will most likely bring in a few hundred dollars. It's okay once, but not good business in the long run.

As I re-read your original posting, another thought comes to mind. It sounds like you were not talking to the "economic buyer," that is, the person who actually makes the buying decision. You were talking to the person who was just collecting information, but doesn't have the power to write the check.

When selling a show, it's always a good idea to ask early on about their decision process. A good question to ask early on in the discussion is, "Who else besides yourself is involved in making the decision on entertainment." Sometimes you will get the answer, "No one, I make the decision." Great, close that person on the phone if possible.

For a Blue and Gold dinner, there's probably a committee of people, and you will need to sell them all, otherwise you are counting on your original contact point to sell you to the other members of the committee. That's risky, because if he or she has little influence, you have lost the sale.

Send a copy of your packet of information to all of them. Get all of them on a conference call. Make a personal visit if necessary. They just want to make sure you don't have three heads and will do a decent show.

Message: Posted by: Danny Diamond (Dec 16, 2005 08:47AM)
On 2005-12-16 01:47, rossmacrae wrote:
Forgive my bluntness, but the question doesn't make sense.

Not sure what aspect of the question did not make sense, but I what I am asking is as follows...

Do you guys feel that in the absence of a demo tape, offering a live performance is a good route to take to land the gig? I know most of you pros have demo tapes, but if you didn't have one for some reason, how would you respond to a request for one? Just curious. I think I responded well, but I just wanted other people's thoughts on the matter.

On 2005-12-16 01:47, rossmacrae wrote:
Maybe it will satisfy her, maybe it won't. It isn't what she asked for.

Well she asked IF I had one. I re-read the email and her actual words were “I was wondering if you had a demo tape or if someone could watch one of your shows”.

The first time I read the email, I missed the part about watching one of my shows. So when I emailed her back, I offered referrals, a meeting/live performance if needed, and I also invited the person in charge of talent, to come to a show I have tonight. We'll see what happens.

Thanks for the advice guys.
Message: Posted by: Skip Way (Dec 16, 2005 09:11AM)
Danny, I generally invite people who want to prescreen my act to visit one of my restaurant gigs. Since I have four restaurants currently running, it's fairly easy for them to see my interaction with the kids live.

Still, it's good to develop a 4-5 minute highlight reel of your best stuff...including frequent shots of the audience and how they interact with and respond to you.

Jim, correct me if I'm wrong...but, the event organizer can't give permission to use the likeness of each child & parent attending an event. I've heard that others post a sign at each entrance announcing that "Tonight's event is being videotaped for promotional purposes and attendance during the show implies consent for being included in the video"...or something to that effect? I'm foggy on this and have always used family and close friends for my videos and promo photos...to avoid the hassles.

Message: Posted by: Jim Snack (Dec 16, 2005 09:22AM)

You raise a good point. I understand that if the event is a public event, like a fair or festival, you don't need permission. That's how news stations can put video on the air without obtaining permission.

To be sure, you might want to do a google search on the topic. I'm sure there are lots of sites for budding videographers with the necessary information and standard release forms that you might need for private events.

Here's one link with some more information:


Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Dec 16, 2005 10:11AM)
Based in my experiences, Jim is right about the public venue issue. When I worked with video production in public schools, there were very strict rules about videotaping kids in school if it was to be used for public viewing (in-class use was acceptable.) However, the school district attorneys, after much deliberation, determined that anyone's image recorded at a public venue was acceptable for public use, the same as cameras in stores, gas stations, news programs, etc. However, you cannot attribute comments or endorsement to them without their knowledge. So, while you can show them laughing and clapping, you probably should not say outright, "This person loves Danny Diamond's show!"

I also agree that a video is not really necessary, but it helps. My tape is really old, because I have relied on other marketing tools and never found the need to update the video; it has become a less important tool for me.

BTW, having them visit you at a restaurant as suggested earlier CAN work, even for stage shows. I've done it, and although they cannot see your stage show, people can see your personality, meet you, see how others respond to you, etc. I once booked a HUGE show with Pepsi after inviting the "Big Shots" to see me at a restaurant.
Message: Posted by: Danny Diamond (Dec 16, 2005 03:00PM)
Well, the scoutmaster will be at my show tonight, “scouting” me out! I'm a bit nervous, I must admit. This will be my first time with someone in the audience judging me in this manner. Well, whatever happens, no big deal. If they like my show and feel it would be good for the banquet, great. If not, I will just keep doing what I'm doing and working at constantly performing and improving. Wish me luck!
Message: Posted by: johnnymagic (Dec 16, 2005 03:16PM)
Good Luck. Before I had a demo tape I made a small booklet with some pictures of me performing at a show and had someone fill out a letter of recomendation. I put them in plastic sleeves and bought a binder to put them in with a logo I designed on the front. Now I have a web site with video of past performances...
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Dec 16, 2005 03:49PM)
I've heard that others post a sign at each entrance announcing that "Tonight's event is being videotaped for promotional purposes and attendance during the show implies consent for being included in the video"...or something to that effect? I'm foggy on this and have always used family and close friends for my videos and promo photos...to avoid the hassles.
My online video was edited with a high-end editing program that made it easy to blur the faces of the "volunteers" - their "body language" made their happy reactions quite clear enough. Didn't need a lot of blur, as the amount of compression needed for streaming video also makes things less clear. With that in mind, if I'm not using a recognizable likeness, no permission is needed (example: the blurred bystanders on "Cops") - I haven't had any objections bringing the camera to large group events, and if someoine DID question my taping, I plan to say "I tape every show I do, for security purposes" and if that didn't satisfy them (depends on who's fussing) I could just put the camera away.

I'm a bit nervous, I must admit. This will be my first time with someone in the audience judging me in this manner.
Relax, you'll do fine - if your clients like your show and the kids like your show, the visitor will like your show. And, again, it's a darned Blue & Gold - how much money do you stand to lose, anyway? They never have a decent budget!
Message: Posted by: Danny Diamond (Dec 16, 2005 05:19PM)
On 2005-12-16 16:49, rossmacrae wrote:
Relax, you'll do fine - if your clients like your show and the kids like your show, the visitor will like your show. And, again, it's a darned Blue & Gold - how much money do you stand to lose, anyway? They never have a decent budget!

Well, for a PT guy like me, the B&G Banquet is a pretty decent gig to land. Not only for the money, but for the experience. But I'm not really that nervous about losing the Banquet gig - it's more the idea of being watched and judged tonight that was giving me the nerves. But I feel good right now, and showtime is exactly 45 minutes away! I am leaving the house now.

Thanks again for the insight fellas.
Message: Posted by: Jim Snack (Dec 16, 2005 07:08PM)
As I write this you are probably in the middle of your show. Let us know how it turned out.

Message: Posted by: Danny Diamond (Dec 17, 2005 03:56PM)
Well I did the show last night. Unfortunately, it was far from the best show I have ever done. The crowd was small and a bit reserved, and there was one boy in the crowd, who was one of the worst behaved kids I've ever had at a show! Talk about bad timing. This particular child insisted on using “Merry Doofus” as the magic words instead of “Merry Christmas”. He also thought it was his job to call me a “doofus” nice and loud at several points during the show. I tried the usual techniques of controlling a rowdy child, but this kid was tough. I later found out that his father had died a year or two ago, and that he is usually a good kid, but has some troubles. He apologized to me during the balloon animal portion of my gig.

To make matters worse, my bunny appearance was somewhat less than impressive too. You see, I did a show at this firehouse in October. They liked me and invited me back for this Christmas show. I asked the guy who booked me, “will there be many of the same children in attendance?”. He told me no, not the same kids. Turns out the group was almost identical!
So when I brought out my mailbox and started my last routine, the kids all started yelling out “ohh, the bunny is in there!” Super! There goes the element of surprise. Of course the bunny appearance was still well-received, but not to the same level as it usually is.

Well, I never got to meet the mystery scout, who I later found out showed up shortly after my show began, and left before I did. I am not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Did he think my show was so bad that he couldn't bear to stay until the end? Or was his main goal simply to verify that I was a legit performer and not some scamming con-artist posing as a magician, stealing downpayment deposits? Who knows? I am awaiting a response from the woman I spoke to. If I get the gig, cool. If not, I won't take it personally.
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Dec 17, 2005 10:34PM)
Don't worry about it. I think we tend to be our own worst critics. A few days ago I was booked at a casino and did the worst show imaginable. The boss called me today and left the message "Your show was a big hit!" So, ya never know ... it really doesn't matter what WE think, it's all about how the audience perceives the show.
Message: Posted by: wizardofsorts (Dec 17, 2005 11:29PM)
Starrpower is right. I don't know if I have audience dyslexia or what. But every time I think I've tanked, I get great feedback. The rowdy kid may have been a blessing in disguise. If you didn't loose your cool with this kid your mystery scout might go home thinking, "this guy is a real pro, even in the face of adversity."

Danny, I've read a few of your posts and I think you are like me, a you give yourself too hard of a time. In the words of Bobby McF, "Don't worry. . ." I'm sure you know the rest.
Message: Posted by: Danny Diamond (Dec 22, 2005 08:43AM)
I was somewhat ashamed to admit this, but the scout troop decided to “go in a different direction” for their banquet.
I am not taking it too personally, because I consistently get great feedback from the parents at the parties I do. I have a feeling that the scoutmaster looked at my show that night, and assumed that the show he was watching, was the show I would do for the scouts. That was not what I had planned. For the scouts, I had a different show in mind. I have an older show that plays better for the scout demographic. But the show the scoutmaster saw last week, involved a snake can, a lot of silliness, and me bonking my self in the head with a magic wand several times! I fear that he saw this and deemed me too “kiddie” for the banquet. I guess this just goes to show me that I should prepare a demo tape, in order to show my range more.

If I am wrong in my assumption of his analysis, then maybe I just suck!
Message: Posted by: Skip Way (Dec 22, 2005 09:09AM)
Danny...your assessment is probably spot on. It was quite rude of the Scoutleader not to stay behind and introduce himself after the show. Clients come and clients go...Just move ahead and plan for the future.

This problem with the "Nope! This show is wrong for us!" attitude is one of the inherent problems I often see with audition tapes. In my opinion, each tape should either target a specific market or include a variety of your best snippets from the various levels of shows on a single tape.

Actually, it's probably a good thing. I've seen scouts eat even the best entertainers alive...literally...without sauce. I never do a scout show without an escape route and a back-up whip and chair!

Message: Posted by: keithmagic (Dec 22, 2005 04:20PM)
Danny -

A friend of mine from the Detroit area (who shall remain nameless - even though I found this ploy one of the funniest ruses I have ever heard) a few years ago was asked for a demo tape for a pretty high profile gig. He didn't have one...
He designed nice labeling, and a cover, etc... for the tape, and put it all on a BLANK VHS (pre DVD era). He then sent out the tape! Of course the client called back saying the tape wouldn't play... Magician "X" said "MAN! I have had MORE TROUBLE with that new promo tape. That's the THIRD ONE to do that! Well, why don't you just come by my show this Friday at "X" location and you can see my show in person."

She did, and "X" got the show! lol

I DON'T recomend doing this - but reading your plight had me laughing remembering the story!

Keith Stickley
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Dec 22, 2005 07:34PM)
A demo tape,dvd is better than nothing. Before I had a camcorder I use to ask my friends and relatives to come record me with their camcorder. I would pay them a low fee. Now I own 3 camcorders. I set up one in the middle and one on each front corner when I stand them on a tripod recording myself. If you don't have one, try renting one from "Rent a Center" when you have a special performance. Try recording aprroximately 5 shows of youself. Look through and find the good clips of each show. Take them to a professional and have them edited on video and dvd. Have the demo run no more than 10 minutes. It really helps, believe me. Good luck my friend.

Posted: Dec 22, 2005 8:39pm
Oh yea, I almost forgot. Before I had a demo I offered the client to come to my next public or school performance. It always came out good where they would hire me.