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Topic: Explaining why you're not free
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Sep 29, 2011 07:13PM)

The caller said "But this is just for a school function... and they're just kids, they don't know if someone's good or bad."

So I said "Since you feel that way, why not just fire the teachers... since these kids have no value - why bother teaching them anything at all?"

- - - - -

You're turn.
Message: Posted by: billappleton (Sep 29, 2011 07:42PM)
Tell them you'll do it for free if you can get everyone's address for a mailer
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Sep 29, 2011 07:57PM)
Unfortunately, here in Wisconsin where I live they are doing just that ... dumping all the teachers! Hiring a magician is pretty much a thing of that past.

As for my explanation to the guy, I would not even bother. What's the point in justifying your fee to someone who's not gonna hire you anyway?
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Sep 29, 2011 08:15PM)
Funny you should ask. He used to be the VP of our magic club!!! (so you'd think he would know better)

But for arguments sake, what do you-all tell people who don't value your time?
Message: Posted by: Beowulf (Sep 29, 2011 09:12PM)
Message: Posted by: Bill Hilly (Sep 29, 2011 10:38PM)
What would the movie theater say if you asked them to let you see the movie for free?
What would Sears say if you asked them for a free set of tires?
What would J.C. Penny's say if you asked them for a free shirt?
What would the cable company say if you told them you wanted free cable?
What would ________ say if you asked for (a) free ________?

Under certain circumstances I can make deals to a lower fee (i.e. Two half-hour shows in the same town 100 miles away on the same day can split the travel costs) but in general, my fee is my fee. I state it and simply say I'm sorry if they can't ask for a free show (unless it's a charity of my choice), just like all of the above.

I do my best to make them feel like they get more than they pay for, but it's my business, my livelihood. And just the girls I knew in high school (or so it seemed), I ain't giving it away.

- B.H.
Message: Posted by: danfreed (Sep 29, 2011 11:40PM)
Non-profits ask for donations all the time. It's their job to ask and they mean well. I am nice, but sometimes I say, in a friendly way " I'd be a non-profit myself if I volunteered for more gigs, so I have to turn most of them down, good luck" Sometimes they have a budget and pay me anyway.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Sep 29, 2011 11:50PM)
One of the things I usually say is that by hiring me, and paying a professional fee, they will guarantee to increase attendance at their event. My promotional materials are available to them to use, should they want to. Lots of organisations advertise the fact that I'll be at an event, and it does indeed mean that a lot more folks come along on the day.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Sep 29, 2011 11:51PM)
When they ask about me doing a free show I tell them,
"just call your local cub scout troop. I'm sure there's some little kid that would love to do a free show"

If you read between the lines, it says all that needs to be said to make your point, remain respectful and not burn a bridge.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Sep 30, 2011 06:01AM)
A friend of mine got a call from a charity yesterday asking him to do a show next week, for free. He was already booked so couldn't have helped them anyway. But they had the cheek to berate him for letting them down.

I have zero tolerance for people who ask me to perform for free. I generally tell them that if they want me to donate my days wages to their cause, they will have to donate a day of their wages too. That gets the message across.
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Sep 30, 2011 09:14AM)
I have performed at no charge in the past for non-profits, I have decided the cause had merit and I contacted the organization to volunteer my time; If I do volunteer, it is required that I am allowed to mingle at the cocktail hour and have meals with the other attendees at the table; this allows me time to network and distribute and collect business cards from the people I talk with.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Sep 30, 2011 09:43AM)
My fee is to compensate me for my 40 years of practice.
Message: Posted by: Matthew W (Sep 30, 2011 09:44AM)
I was called by a non profit (and one who's cause I believe in) to perform at their fundraiser. It was on the way to another paying gig that day, so I offered them a donated show. The person I spoke to accepted.

A few days later I get a call. They don't want me because I can only give them one show.

I am now no longer donating shows.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Sep 30, 2011 09:52AM)
A do gooder that makes phone calls to solicit volunteers will tell you anything you want to hear, and not be anywhere to be found on the day of the event. The first lesson I learned as a performer is "NEVER SELL YOURSELF CHEAP"
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Sep 30, 2011 09:53AM)
Message: Posted by: Matthew W (Sep 30, 2011 10:13AM)
It has nothing to do with telling me what I want to hear. I offered them a free show. One wasn't good enough for them. It shows greed on their part.

I have no problems donating a couple shows a year to worthy causes, but to be that ungrateful is just rude. If you don't have to pay, take what you are offered.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Sep 30, 2011 11:39AM)
I understand exactly what you are saying. The bottom line here is if you do free shows for charities again you will get burnt.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Sep 30, 2011 12:08PM)
The California State Fair called me about doing a free show a few years ago telling me it would be great exposure.

Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Sep 30, 2011 12:17PM)
A guy asked me to do a show today for six kids at a greyhound track. He told me the venue was prestigious, and I should actually be paying him for the exposure. Needless to say we didn't do business.
Message: Posted by: tboehnlein (Sep 30, 2011 12:52PM)
I used to not any more, I just explain "this what some people charge for exposure how much you going to pay me"http://financialedge.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0510/Outrageous-Celebrity-Appearance-Fees.aspx#axzz1ZSXK7MWN
Message: Posted by: PCoreyB (Sep 30, 2011 01:35PM)
We used to run into this a lot. Since we did want to help out some charities, plus we knew that certain groups could be beneficial to us down the road, we came up with a policy of donating 2 shows per year. Of course we chose which ones we wanted to do and they were booked well in advance. Whenever someone asked, we just told them that our allotted number of gratis shows for the year was filled and would they please call us at the first of next year if they would like to try for a future donated show.

We didn't reveal our number of 2 freebies per year, we just said that they're gone. Of course if some opportunity arose that we really wanted to take, we could always make an exception and do more than 2.

Again, since most of our paying shows were also for non-profits, this came up a lot for us so we felt we needed to have some sort of policy in place.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Sep 30, 2011 01:47PM)
The Musician's Union last week had a discussion about this very matter:
Message: Posted by: danfreed (Sep 30, 2011 02:00PM)
I did 2 free shows last year and they both turned into paying gigs this year. I also got calls for regular paying gigs from people who saw me there. I still gave those 2 non-profits a discount anyway because I am involved with them personally, and they are the only ones this year that I'm doing that for. It's also good karma to do a few charity gigs per year. I turn down almost all of them though. Be nice to them when they call, they might hire you for your regular rate if they can't get you for free.
Message: Posted by: Mark Boody Illusionist (Sep 30, 2011 03:55PM)
Doing a free show for "exposure" is OK, but just remember...you can DIE from exposure!

Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Sep 30, 2011 04:18PM)
Yes Eskimo's, and magicians all know about DIEING FROM EXPOSURE.
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Sep 30, 2011 04:26PM)
I wish I had $1 for every time that old "you can die from exposure" line was used on a thread about donating shows / free show requests on the Café. I'd be rich! :)

- Donald
Message: Posted by: BIGmagiclV (Sep 30, 2011 06:36PM)
Here's something funny. Not ha ha funny but what a coincidence funny. I read this thread this morning and got a free show request email this afternoon! Here is my reply. Tell me what you think:

Thanks so much for your gracious invitation to peroform for your event. Unfortunately, at this time I have done or booked the 4 free shows a year I allow my business to provide for charities and other non-profit organizations. I must limit my contributions so as not to turn into a non profit org. myself! I do offer non profits rates however, if you are interested in my show. Please email me or call and we can discuss the rates, depending on what services you need.
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Sep 30, 2011 08:11PM)
Not bad

Sometimes I'll ask if they'll put their boss on the phone - and when they say they are busy, I mention "It's probably because they are being paid for their time".

Then I say "I'm quite busy myself working on the phone so please have your boss call when they have some free time... I need my ceiling painted and my bushes trimmed".
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Sep 30, 2011 09:58PM)
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Oct 1, 2011 01:23AM)
On 2011-09-30 13:17, TonyB2009 wrote:
A guy asked me to do a show today for six kids at a greyhound track. He told me the venue was prestigious, and I should actually be paying him for the exposure. Needless to say we didn't do business.

Message: Posted by: MeetMagicMike (Oct 1, 2011 01:32AM)
There is nothing wrong with them asking and there is nothing wrong with your saying no (or yes). PCoreyB handles it perfectly.
Message: Posted by: Alan Munro (Oct 1, 2011 07:01AM)
"Parents in the 'hood pay me. Charities pay me. Cub Scout packs pay me. Daycares pay me. Why can't you pay me? I get paid when I perform at other schools."

Even the local children's museum embarrasses itself by low-balling. Some organizations can't get much of my time, even to talk to them on the phone, anymore. They've shown themselves to be time-wasters.
Message: Posted by: Sam Sandler (Oct 1, 2011 08:47AM)
First there are plenty of magicians out there that not only will perform for free "publicity" but actually do it quite often.

off course I would be hard pressed to believe they are full time performers or those that really value their time

that being said yes I do a few volunteer shows a year and I pick and choose the ones I want to do, I volunteer with my local YMCA and do a few shows each year some free some with huge discounts.

what I want to say is this when I choose to do a free donation type of show I still have a contract! this is really important
as you know if they get you for free then they really wont care if they actaully promote you or what ever they just want the show!
how many times h ave you shown up and teh sign says magician or the magical magician insert name I have a stage name use it!

so my contract states that in return for my show "services" the client must
-use my professional stage name on all the advertising , print, web, radio, etc
-if they do have radio ads they MUST mention my professional stage name and time of show
-websites must include my professional stage name, photo (provided) and include a link to my website
-posters provided must be hung up at least one week prior to the event
-performance area must be cleared prior to sam Sandler’s arrival- not having it cleared prior to arrival will cause a delay in the start time of the show and routines may have to be eliminated due to time constraints.
-we ask that 4 bottles of cold water be provided upon sam Sandler’s arrival

not meeting any and all of these requirements is a breech of contract. if these are not met performer reserves the right not to perform the show in its entirety or eliminate certain routines. please understand I am donating my professional show that others pay thousands of dollars for all we are asking is for the publicity of sam Sandler being at your event. this will help not only promote sam Sandler but draw more people to your event thus helping create a successful day.

it then says thanks for your attention to these details and we look forward to being part of your event. I am happy to donate my time and appreciate you advertising my appearance at your event.

this has been a life saver for me as no longer is it a night mare for me. some of the people tell me they cant do all that or gurantee that it will all be done and then I just say sorry if it is not able to be done I can not donate my time. no hard feelings but if I am going to give up a paid gig or the potential to have a paid gig then I need to make sure I get the most out of the free show.

good luck with your time folks

Message: Posted by: Red Shadow (Oct 2, 2011 01:30PM)
When asked to do a free show, I say only if I have your permission to video the performance and use the footage as promo material for my website and as I see fit. It’s only fair, if they want a free show, I can video it.

Some have said no, and that was there lost. Others have said yes, and that’s why I have DVDs for sale on my website and a decent promo video which helps generate more shows for me.

Find a reason to do it for free, and sometimes it can be a real money-earner. I know some entertainers who do free shows and as soon as it’s booked, they call the local newspaper and tell them about it. A reporter comes down to the free show and takes photographs of the event in action, and the entertainer gets a full story about them in the paper. This will generate lots of work. If it was a paid gig, the papers would not care. But because it was for charity, it was newsworthy.

Others like BOR sales. I once did a show in a school (paid gig), but they asked me to sell my magic sets afterwards (which was a first for me). Not expecting much, I took the sets to the show and set up a table in the hall at the end of the school day, immediately after the show. All the children ran to the parents, and came running back with money. I made twice as much in BOR than my actual fee! It made me think that I should do more free shows and sell afterwards, as the income was better.

There are threads on this forum about how some entertainers offer free shows in return for services. Such as working a video shop promotion day for free, in return for unlimited free rentals for a year. Over the course of time, the free rentals were worth more than the fee ever was.

Others have performed for a free meal, which even I was tempted to do once. They wanted me for Christmas Day in a restaurant, and I said only if after my set, me and my family could have Christmas Dinner there for free. It was worth more than my fee at the time (not any more, but back then it was). The booking didn’t come off, but finding alternatives to payment can be more awarding if your clever and a little lucky.

One more final example are Cruise Ship jobs. Many positions as entertainers on cruise ships are unpaid. But in return for doing this ‘freebie’, you can sell your books and DVDs, which as demonstrated above, can pay rather well. But also means you get a free holiday out of it.

In regards to a school, I would go with the video route. But if you have nothing better to do and the booking was just a few days away… you might be tempted to do a short show, as long as every one of those children and parents got to take home your flyer. It could drill up a lot of work. Just make sure the only one that knows your doing it for free is you and the client. No-one else is allowed to know your doing it for free, otherwise it will give you tons of problems later. To everyone else’s knowledge, you are being paid your top fee.

Message: Posted by: Bill Hilly (Oct 2, 2011 05:40PM)
I cover 44 counties in my state. In every one of the school districts I've worked with it is forbidden to photograph or video the children.

It is also illegal here to use anyone's image in any promotion, advertising, etc., unless the photo was taken in a very public place, such as a street fair, festival, etc., where privacy can't be expected.

Message: Posted by: Sam Sandler (Oct 3, 2011 09:37AM)
This is true in most schools however schools now have a policy in place where parents have to sign a release form either letting the school use the photos of their children in public formats or not letting them use the pictures

for instance- schools will alow photos to be put in the news paper but they have to be kids where parents signed the relase allowing that to happen.

Now if I want to use the photos or video I have to provide the school with a different release form to send home to each child and get it signed so that I can use their photos or video. some schools already allow it as their original release covers me and some do not,.

when filming children in schools it can be a tricky thing to do ( pun intended)

you just need to check with your school.

I have shot many videos in schools over the years and plan to shoot at least 2 this year with my new school assembly shows.

never had a problem yet

Message: Posted by: Red Shadow (Oct 3, 2011 10:18AM)
Yes, Its all about getting the release forms signed by the child parent. Some teachers are just too lazy to do it, yet still want you to do a free show.

For filming a project in a school, you need about 6 parents to sign the paper allowing their child to appear in the video. The teacher should aim to get 10 signatures and while in most cases they all agree. Sometime there can be a problem but at least you have a few spare. You then just choose those children for the video.

In some DVD projects, you may also notice that the children helping look very similar to the magician. that's because they are the children of the performer. The show they did was still free, as you are allowed crowd shots and reaction shots. Its about the focus of the frame, which means whoever helps in the trick directly you need permission for.

A 'cheat' to this however is to film your show at a Halloween party and only choose children wearing masks. But my contracts are made with the teacher / event planner and its up to them to get the parents permission. that's the cost of getting me to perform for free.

Message: Posted by: windrunner (Oct 5, 2011 08:27AM)
If people don't value my time, I don't have the time to discuss it with them. You will never change their small minds.
Message: Posted by: iwillfoolu (Oct 5, 2011 08:55AM)
I wish I could perform for free, but I have to be able to afford my school taxes.

Message: Posted by: tgs (Oct 5, 2011 12:14PM)
I just explain that, because I get so many requests for free shows, my policy is to turn them all down. I explain that I do perform many charity events through the year, but for each of them I extend the offer of a free show.

By the way, my free show policy is that I'll only perform one if the purpose is to cheer up an audience of kids that really needs it. I'll do children's hospitals, and I've worked with a charity that provides birthday parties to homeless children. But you won't see me doing a benefit to raise money for the local yacht club.

Callers seem to understand this policy, and then I get off the phone quickly without sounding like a bad guy. After all, today's free show requester could call tomorrow for a paid one.
Message: Posted by: Jeff Christensen (Oct 16, 2011 05:41PM)
It's my job?! Try calling up your local plumber and see if they'll work for free. That being said I still do a few charity shows each year. The difference being I usually offer my services before being asked.
Message: Posted by: Futureal (Oct 17, 2011 04:44PM)
Not meeting any and all of these requirements is a breech of contract. If these are not met performer reserves the right not to perform the show in its entirety or eliminate certain routines. Please understand I am donating my professional show that others pay thousands of dollars for all we are asking is for the publicity of Sam Sandler being at your event. This will help not only promote Sam Sandler but draw more people to your event thus helping create a successful day.

It then says thanks for your attention to these details and we look forward to being part of your event. I am happy to donate my time and appreciate you advertising my appearance at your event.
I sincerely hope that's not cut-and-paste from your real contract, it's riddled with spelling and grammatical errors.