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Topic: Amateur/Professional
Message: Posted by: FreefallFool (Mar 29, 2007 05:20PM)
I have recently approached a pub landlord with a view to working in his restaurant, more to gain experience than get paid. I performed for him and the few people that were in the bar and was very well received.

Is this the best way to make the transition from amateur to professional, albeit part-time?

He did say that rather than me just coming in casually, as and when, he felt it should be more organised/structured "to better showcase my talents". However, nothing has been forthcoming.

Any thoughts?

Jason
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Mar 29, 2007 05:35PM)
My advice is to be prepared by putting yourself ahead. Purchase "Jailhouse": [url=http://www.magicproshop.com/live-the-jailhouse-guide-restaurant-magic-dvd-set-dvd-p-9343.html]magicproshop.com[/url]
Message: Posted by: FreefallFool (Mar 29, 2007 05:40PM)
Thanks D. I'll have a proper look when I have more time. Looks interesting though...

J.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Mar 29, 2007 07:39PM)
You are welcome J.
Message: Posted by: dicedealer007 (Mar 30, 2007 02:24AM)
Sit with him and find out when he thinks he could use a talent like you. The thing is that you don't want a time that's too slow cause it will be hard to get exposure. And with that being said you don't want a time that is totally slamed either. If you guys can find a time right in the middle you can hopefully boost some business for him as well as get a following started.
Message: Posted by: Vic Nadata (Mar 30, 2007 08:02AM)
Run and get the David Stone Real Secrets of Magic Vol 1 DVD. It is full of great useful information and great tricks.
Message: Posted by: JackScratch (Mar 30, 2007 09:48AM)
You should perform for his least busy "prime" times. Maybe an off day of the week, but what would be his rush hour. The idea is to use you to bring in additional business. Post billings in the loby, something flashy but proffesional, announcing your performance times and dates. If you can show an actual effect being caused by your presence, you have a firm basis, not only for your beingnthere, but also for future work, future pay increase, and even future promotions for yourself.
Message: Posted by: airship (Mar 30, 2007 09:49AM)
Make sure you have a contract, even if it doesn't include any pay. You want a limited-time engagement that stipulates it as a 'trial'. That way, if he can see that you're bringing in customers (or keeping them there longer buying drinks) you can negotiate a new contract with pay, and he won't keep expecting you to work for free forever.
Message: Posted by: FreefallFool (Mar 30, 2007 11:05AM)
Thank you for posting, JackScratch and airship. Even during our initial meeting there was one patron who openly stated that he would have left already had I not been there, so I know I can hold the attention of at least those who are intrigued...
Message: Posted by: JackScratch (Mar 31, 2007 07:41AM)
Nice, but be careful. One patron is insignificant. You want to show a change in numbers. You want to show a tangeable increase in his business. Agreed the one guy doesn't hurt your image, and is certainly a sign you're on the right track, but he's running a business, you want him to believe that having you there makes him more money than you are costing him.

I like Airships comment about a contract. Kudos.
Message: Posted by: FreefallFool (Mar 31, 2007 08:19AM)
Thanks Jack, I understand what you're saying. I've never had a paying gig in my life but I've performed at a couple of functions, weddings receptions etc. I wouldn't rush into asking for money until I was sure I could deliver. That is why I'm asking for advice. I have never fallen flat on my face, but you can tell when someone is not interested, I simply thank them for their time and wish them a good evening...
Message: Posted by: abc (Apr 1, 2007 02:06AM)
I don't want to cause any stirs here but I do think you should get paid right from the start. I can not see in your post that the manager said you should work for free so if you discuss times you should discuss fees. It does feel "uncomfortable" the first few times but you will get used to it. Do not be afraid to charge for your talents.
I actually think the manager is already assuming he should pay you so it shouldn't be a problem.
Regarding the above posts - very good advice. Just to restate the obvious. Don't try to create a miracle out of a dead time. Pick a quiet yet prime time and increase the business.
Message: Posted by: FreefallFool (Apr 1, 2007 12:02PM)
Thanks abc,

The absence of fees was from my own lack of confidence, so maybe I'm not ready yet. I think it'll always be the same, to take that first step. It turns from a favour for a friend to something altogether more daunting, even though my routine wouldn't change! Initially at least, and I understand a need to be flexible...
Message: Posted by: Mark Wilden (Apr 1, 2007 07:00PM)
The landlord will like your show better if he's paying you to do it. The laborer is worthy of his hire, and all that. Secondly, you'll give a better show, because you're now responsible for acting like a professional. Third, who couldn't use a couple extra quid? :)

///ark
Message: Posted by: Geoff Weber (Apr 1, 2007 07:38PM)
Bringing in extra business is a lofty goal, but unless you are also doing a lot of promotion of the nights you will be there, its one you might not be able to fulfill. A better goal would be to entertain the customers he already has. So scheduling to perform on a dead night might not be the best idea.
Message: Posted by: FreefallFool (Apr 1, 2007 08:31PM)
Cheers Mark, I think you have a point but I [i]do[/i] always strive to appear professional. You're right though, to get paid would make me more responsible for putting on a good show. I think that's what scares me!!! I did a bit at a family anniversary party last August and I got comments like, "So, you do this for a living, right?" That was nice to hear...

Geoff, I'm inclined to agree with you also, I was thinking along the same lines when I promoted myself. He and his sister (business partner) had just taken over and after dining there I said they were doing a good job. She said they were new to the trade and any suggestions for improvement would be welcomed. Hence, "Let me show you what I can do. Would you be able to make use of me in your restaurant to make dining here a little different?"

Is that the right approach or did I come at it from the wrong angle? I'd love to get some video footage on a laptop and use that as a selling point...
Message: Posted by: abc (Apr 2, 2007 12:27AM)
The fact that you lack confidence to discuss fees DOES NOT mean you are not ready to perform. Just like you have to practice your effects and sleights and get it routined into a nice and entertaining show, the same applies for the business side of magic. Your entire approach from the start to closing the deal needs and takes a lot of practice. There are many good magicians working for low fees because they can not sell themselves properly and there are also many sales people who make more money than they should from magic because they are not good magicians.
There are many ways in which you can increase sales while still being entertaining. I read many books about managemant and sales in pubs and restaurants when I worked them often and they came in very handy because you learn what makes the establishment money.
The examples may sound cheesy and stupid but when the sales figures come in the owners smile!
1. Let the restaurant print you a few dollar sized (bill) vouchers for a buy one get one free appetizer or desert. In the middle (do not do this as an opener or closer it is too weak) of your routine borrow a dollar bill and transform it into the voucher. Then offer to buy it back at dollar. It is humorous in a way but more than 80% of the patrons will decide to keep the voucher. Note here though that the dollar bill goes to the restaurant and not to you unless they decide that you can keeo it. This way they are selling one appetizer or desert at full price and one at 1 dollar. It will also create a situation where if there are four people they may end up selling 4 appetizers or deserts as opposed to 0.
If you work the que or bar area use the appetizer vouchers and if you work the tables use the desert vouchers. Use this as a selling point when you discuss your fee because then you can explain one way in which you can make them more money. Appetizers and deserts are high profit items for restaurants.
2. If it is a family restaurant let them make you a few hundred copies of a coloring picture with a magician or rabbit or anything magical on it. You can choose the pictures. Children can then color the picture (in the restaurant or at home - both have benefits) If they color it in the restaurant it keeps them busy while their parents are trying to have a conversation and if they color it at home the parents HAVE to come back to the restaurant to enter the "competition". The winner gets a free kids burger and soda or desert or whatever the owners decide on. The selling point here is that a child is always accompanied by an adult or two and they are the people who buy liquor and spend money on food, not the kids. When you award the prizes at the end of the month you can ask the restaurant how many they want to award as you e-mail or post the prizes (a voucher to say congratulations you are a winner come to ABC restaurant for a free meal). I remember in one month we (the owner and I) posted more than 500 prizes. The reasoning is that it forces the adults to return to the establishment and repeat business in a restaurant is VERY important.
Use this as a selling tool as well. The time it will take you to mail it has to kept in consideration as you don't want to spend hours writing addresses on the envelopes. 20 or 30 a month should be enough. Most of the time the management will mail the prizes themselves because they will see the benefit and the fact thatit is magic related is very good for you. You can even put your contact details on the pictures but be ready and prepared to do children's parties.
If you can get them to only hand out the pictures when you are working then people will try to come on the nights you are working which is good for you but the flipside is if they hand it out every night it is better for the restaurant. They can decide which is better.
3. You can promote a certain brand of liquor in your show. Again with a voucher or by using it in an effect. I did a salt effect with tequila as it was a very popular drink in my younger days. Nowadays I think a color changing silk that ends with a drink production may be better since the drinks today are fruity and colorful. People buy what they can see and if the bar wnats to move Bacardi Breezers (ask the owners which drinks they want to sell more of) then find a way to move it.
Main point here is YOU have to make a contribution.
Finally, Never let your promotinal activities get in the way of doing entertaining magic. That is and will always be your first objective. Without it you become a seller or waiter.
If I was you (which I am not) I would go back say I have done my homework and came up with (add one or two suggestions and use the above ones if you do not think they are cheese and bad) and then WAIT for them to respond. Then once they have said whether they like it or not (hopefully they do) tell them you would like to earn X amount of dollars a night or hour or whatever. Then discuss the fee. They may want to negotiate or they may not. After that make sure of the starting date. You should say "I can start this Friday" (for example) and wait for there response. Close it properly with the time and the fee and the requirements. Last but not least ask to put it on paper. Ask them if they would mind if you put what you have decided on paper. I am yet to find a professional person that said no. I have had some unprofessional people saying no and I only got burned once. Professional people see the value and benefit of a contract immediately.
Sorry that I tried to prompt your speech but when I did this the first time I needed to know exactly what to say when and I am basically copying that advice over to you 10 odd years later. I really hope it works and that there are not too many people who disagree with me.
Now get the gig and let us know what happens.
Message: Posted by: FreefallFool (Apr 2, 2007 01:35AM)
Abc,

That's exactly what I was after... Thank you for your thoughts. I will certainly let you know how it goes.

Jason
Message: Posted by: Mark Wilden (Apr 2, 2007 10:45AM)
I'm not a pro, and never will be. And I'm not criticizing anyone, here. But I do find it depressing that to be magician it would be necessary to hawk liquor and burgers. I feel much the same way about the fake glitz of Las Vegas.

In our loftier moments, we call magic an "art." But how many other "artists" spend as much time shilling as professional magicians?

Again, in an effort to deflect the flames, I'll say that I don't fault any pros for this. I know everyone can't be a Ricky Jay. I also know that it has ever been thus. And that [i]all[/i] art (certainly all performing art) ultimately has its eye on the box office. But geez, pro magicians certainly seem to spend more of their time making the suits happy than, say, your average clarinet player.
Message: Posted by: FreefallFool (Apr 2, 2007 10:56AM)
Mark,

I see your point but I think if it allows you to perform then there's nothing wrong with keeping the management happy. After all, the way I see it, is that if you can demonstrate an increase in revenue then you have a valid argument for increasing [i]your[/i] cut.

Landlords love pool teams, not because they further the progression of budding pool champions but because they increase trade. I think you need to go along with that mentality to a degree...
Message: Posted by: abc (Apr 2, 2007 12:44PM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-02 11:45, Mark Wilden wrote:
I'm not a pro, and never will be. And I'm not criticizing anyone, here. But I do find it depressing that to be magician it would be necessary to hawk liquor and burgers. I feel much the same way about the fake glitz of Las Vegas.

In our loftier moments, we call magic an "art." But how many other "artists" spend as much time shilling as professional magicians?

Again, in an effort to deflect the flames, I'll say that I don't fault any pros for this. I know everyone can't be a Ricky Jay. I also know that it has ever been thus. And that [i]all[/i] art (certainly all performing art) ultimately has its eye on the box office. But geez, pro magicians certainly seem to spend more of their time making the suits happy than, say, your average clarinet player.
[/quote]
I agree but artists often get so caught up in the "art" that they produce substandard art and defend it by saying that the population do not apprecaite it. If art is not aprreciated as art then how is it art. Kids can draw stupid pictures on a piece of paper but there is only one Picasso. There is a reason for that.
The average clarinet player is just that. Average. Artists shouldn't go for average. They should go for exceptional. When you pull of a night where you double sales because of your art then you can call yourself an artist or when you win a real magic competition where great magicians compete. What is the point of magic if people do not enjoy and want to see it and be willing to pay money to see it? Art is when people think it is great and not when the creator thinks it is great and everyone else thinks it is terrible and good magic can increase sales in a restaurant and has done so for a long time.
Greatness brings money but good sales people make moeny out of selling not performing like I said in the beginning of my post. All I have learned from you is that you are not the kind of magician I detest and that is good. There is no need to go pr if you don't feel like it but many pro's do great things for magic.
Message: Posted by: Mark Wilden (Apr 2, 2007 10:00PM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-02 11:56, FreefallFool wrote:
I see your point but I think if it allows you to perform then there's nothing wrong with keeping the management happy. After all, the way I see it, is that if you can demonstrate an increase in revenue then you have a valid argument for increasing [i]your[/i] cut.[/quote]
I agree, but I just think it's a little sad what pro magicians have to do just to be given the chance to perform their art and entertain people in a way no other art can.

///ark
Message: Posted by: Mark Wilden (Apr 2, 2007 10:08PM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-02 13:44, abc wrote:
I agree but artists often get so caught up in the "art" that they produce substandard art and defend it by saying that the population do not appreciate it. If art is not appreciated as art then how is it art.
[/quote]
I'm right with you on that, abc. I was just trying to compare our art with other expressions (and how the practitioners manage to practition).

[quote]
The average clarinet player is just that. Average.
[/quote]
Of course, I was talking about the average [i]professional[/i] clarinetist, who is going to be one of the top few thousand players in the world, considering how hard it is to get a job as a clarinetist!

[quote]What is the point of magic if people do not enjoy and want to see it and be willing to pay money to see it?
[/quote]
Again, I completely agree. But many other artists are paid for their performances, not for increasing alcohol consumption. Again, I'm not saying that's wrong - just that pro magicians do seem to have to do things that other professional artists don't have to.

[quote]All I have learned from you is that you are not the kind of magician I detest and that is good.
[/quote]
Why, that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me... :)

[quote]There is no need to go pr if you don't feel like it but many pro's do great things for magic.
[/quote]
You're right, abc. I think we actually are mainly in agreement, in fact.

//ark
Message: Posted by: FreefallFool (Apr 2, 2007 11:06PM)
I'm impressed... Knowing the way these forums can go I wasn't expecting that! Fair play to you guys.

I'd love to just be given a metaphorical stage without all the business end of things but I'm not sure that's possible. If my preparation involves revenue generating ideas as well as honing my routine then so be it.

Musicians do affect revenue since a band with a following will pack out a venue, albeit a local pub, thereby increasing sales. If I could guarantee to fill the function suite then I'm sure I could just perform my act, take my fee, and leave it at that. Until then???
Message: Posted by: abc (Apr 2, 2007 11:49PM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-02 23:08, Mark Wilden wrote:
[quote]
The average clarinet player is just that. Average.
[/quote]
Of course, I was talking about the average [i]professional[/i] clarinetist, who is going to be one of the top few thousand players in the world, considering how hard it is to get a job as a clarinetist!

[quote]What is the point of magic if people do not enjoy and want to see it and be willing to pay money to see it?
[/quote]
Again, I completely agree. But many other artists are paid for their performances, not for increasing alcohol consumption. Again, I'm not saying that's wrong - just that pro magicians do seem to have to do things that other professional artists don't have to.

//ark
[/quote]
OK. I misunderstood your point about the Clarinet player. In contrast to that I would like to say that magicians are privileged in the fact that firstly, it is easier for them to get work and secondly they can and should tailor their performances to meet the needs of customers.
As for selling alcohol as opposed to doing magic, like you said, we agree. I just think it is important to look at what works where, and the more value you add to your client's business or event the more likely it is that youwill have repeat business. I worked a restaurant for four years every weekend and paid my Uni studies and a car out of it as well as had a fairly good life. I mentioned that restaurant inmy posts above (500 envelopes) and the owner is now one of my best friends. Both of us added value to each other's lives and businesses and my point is that you should try and achieve that for your own benefit. It supplies you with a platform to show your art. Many other artists do not have that benefit and we should use it.
I agree with you though that tailoring our art and butchering our art are two completely different things.
I am still on edge to hear what happened with the gig.
Message: Posted by: Mark Wilden (Apr 3, 2007 12:50AM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-03 00:49, abc wrote:
I worked a restaurant for four years every weekend and paid my Uni studies and a car out of it as well as had a fairly good life. I mentioned that restaurant inmy posts above (500 envelopes) and the owner is now one of my best friends. Both of us added value to each other's lives and businesses and my point is that you should try and achieve that for your own benefit. It supplies you with a platform to show your art. Many other artists do not have that benefit and we should use it.
[/quote]
Actually, I never thought about that. Makes a lot of sense.

I should mention in my turn that my best friend at work performed as a full-time table-hopper for ten years, so hopefully I'm not just talking out of my hat.

[quote]
I am still on edge to hear what happened with the gig.
[/quote]
Me too.

///ark
Message: Posted by: FreefallFool (Apr 3, 2007 12:52AM)
Abc, it's only been a day! *grins* I think I need to follow your advice and sort out a more considered package to offer him. Don't hold your breath, I'd hate to be responsible for you turnig blue!!!

This is something I am determined to do and I think the better prepared I am all round, the more successful I will be.

Thanks for your support, it's much appreciated...
Message: Posted by: FreefallFool (Apr 3, 2007 12:54AM)
You too Mark, thanks. Nothing like putting myself under pressure... Ha Ha!