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Topic: Can being a busker hinder other areas of your magic business?
Message: Posted by: keeblem (Feb 26, 2014 08:16AM)
Hello all
I'm a full time children's entertainer. I mentioned a while back I was interested in getting into busking/street entertaining. There's no hidden agenda here - I want to do just because I want to do it! :)

I've mentioned this to my wife and she in turn has mentioned it to some of here friends. One reaction has quite surprised me. Her words were: "If I had booked a children's entertainer and then saw him busking on the street I would cancel him." Wow! That's quite extreme IMO.

Now I know this person quite well. I won't go into detail but suffice to say I'm going to take her opinion with a pinch of salt. However I am interested in what you guys think. Have any of you had the feeling that being a busker can impede you get other bookings?

Eagerly waiting to hear your thoughts.

Mark
Message: Posted by: Kozmo (Feb 26, 2014 08:30AM)
People in the US have this idea that entertainers who work on the streets are lower than them and there must be something wrong with them,
And I guess perhaps they might think "isaw I'm on the streets, why should I pay him when I can watch him for free"

I was working on 3rd st promonade many years ago and this guy came up to me after the show and said "man youre great" and I said thanks. Then he asked if I could work his kids party on saturday and I said sure $350.. for 45 minutes. He looked at me and said How about $50, you work on th streets. Then I showed him the $85 that was in my hat from that show and explained that I can do 10 of those a day and why should I walk away from this to work for his kids for $50.....I was nice to the guy but that show never happened.

Good luck wiht your decision.
Message: Posted by: Nick W (Feb 26, 2014 10:42AM)
Kozmo is correct. I have friends who are afraid to work street because they feel it will affect their bookings. so in turn they shut the possibility door to working the streets and really cutting their teeth, as well as making fat hats. Then again, I have been hired becasue I have been seen performing in the streets. Depends on your goals. Is the streets a stepping stone? Or do you have your street show, then your birthday show, then your festival show. Or are you just starting out and learning the craft?

Heres my ending thoughts: A magician I know once said "nobody respects a street performer(magician)". theres a bit of truth to that. However when the public sees a good street entertainer, the bar is set very high and is seldom set higher. Great street magicians are referenced to. "I once saw a guy who ..........................." Is there any higher compliment (besides a $100?)
Message: Posted by: Kozmo (Feb 26, 2014 01:56PM)
And when a street performer goes inside hes better than everyone....
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Feb 26, 2014 02:20PM)
YES! "One learns by DOING THE THING." (Sophocles said that--on the street,in Athens,a few millenia ago, after seeing a busker doing the cups and balls!

I cut my teeth in a ten in one in the mid '40s. 12 to 15 shows per day, DOES contribut to one's learning the thing!

I watched Kozmo in the French Quarter a few years ago, He made them STOP, he made them STAY, and he made them PAY. (He didn't learn how to do that by attending magic club meetinga!)
Message: Posted by: Yellowcustard (Feb 26, 2014 03:09PM)
[quote]
On , Kozmo wrote:


I was working on 3rd st promonade many years ago and this guy came up to me after the show and said "man youre great" and I said thanks. Then he asked if I could work his kids party on saturday and I said sure $350.. for 45 minutes. He looked at me and said How about $50, you work on th streets. Then I showed him the $85 that was in my hat from that show and explained that I can do 10 of those a day and why should I walk away from this to work for his kids for $50.....I was nice to the guy but that show never happened.

Good luck wiht your decision.
[/quote]

Yep got a simallaur story. A guy said to me how much do you make in a day. I said I do about 2hrs and make $80-100. he said oh that good. then he mentioned he is running a club nigth and will be in touch I mentioned I will charge more then $100 a hr, never heard from him. I have also had a market orgniser see me and ask if I would be intrested in doing his mar. .ket over Christmas. I took a chance and said it a gamble to leave this spot as well as the extra travel cost. He said he would cover the extra travel.

Sorry of topic. I can see how some people might presume your cheap on the street. But you can break that image easily. If props are clean and well presented, patter and performance is up there along with clean costume and grooming people will relies your good. I make I clear I choose the street because it a great stage.

Now you have a few choice set up as a children entertainer and just do busking on the side. Use as a way to try out new stuff and make a extra bit of cash. So when your doing kids shows don't mention the street. And unless someone directly asks don't mention kid shows when busking.

But if your going to do street show for festivals as a offering as well as kid parties then they both need to be as clean as each other to keep up the brand. Also make them different shows so if the kids see you at a street show and want oyu at there party they see something different.
Message: Posted by: troppobob (Feb 26, 2014 03:46PM)
G'day Mark

Yes there can be that perception that the busking performer is not as "proffessional" and in some vague way associated with an undesirable element.

However from my experience busking localy - (where I also offer a range of "paid" options like childrens birthday parties etc) - my busking performances do not negativly impact on my other work.

One positive spin off is that drawing my audience when busking is made much easier because as soon as I am spotted setting up - famileis who know me come over (with cash in their hands) and organise themselves in a good spot to watch the show and say g'day etc which encourages the others who do not know me to join in.

I am also happy to inform "paid" audiences at birthday parties etc to keep an eye out for the busking shows and to be sure to say g'day.

From my expereince it is a win win.

Enjoy the journey mate.

Bob Latta (aka Troppo Bob)
Message: Posted by: Ekuth (Feb 27, 2014 01:47AM)
Busking is free advertisement for your other shows (if you offer them). I had out business cards like candy. I also get gigs from it.

You'll always have people who look down on you, whether you're busking or not. What matters is how you carry and conduct yourself, and the energy you put into your performance.

You want fat hats? Ask for them. Earn them. Have you scripted your routine(s)? Do you know the rule of three? If not, do.

There is, bar none, no place like the streets for earning your chops and learning fast.
Message: Posted by: Mario Morris (Feb 27, 2014 09:23AM)
Great question Mark as this is often the thoughts that other performers have of buskers.
(I think some times an excuse why they wont busk)
From my experiance this is a huge misconception.
Yes the door may close on one or two gigs because of type casting. You need to focus on the doors that will open.
Saying that, remember it takes time and remember them business cards.
Message: Posted by: MagisterFreud (Feb 27, 2014 10:04AM)
[quote]

You want fat hats? Ask for them. Earn them. Have you scripted your routine(s)? Do you know the rule of three? If not, do.

[/quote]

Why not take a moment to tell us the rule of three?
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Feb 27, 2014 10:20AM)
Make 'em STOP...make 'em STAY...MAKE 'EM PAY!
Message: Posted by: Ekuth (Feb 27, 2014 12:30PM)
Precisely, Dick. It had already been mentioned, so I wasn't going to re-iterate.

This also refers to routine/set structure. Find three effects that 'go together' logically; that flow into each other. That's your first routine. Now come up with three routines and arrange them so that the strongest is last- there's your set.

Also, remember to give a nod to the dramatic arc: Build up, create tension, release tension.
Message: Posted by: Foole4Hire (Feb 27, 2014 03:51PM)
When I busk (balloon art, I will mention) I get a fairly firm average of about $50/hr. I see about 30 kids in that hour.

When I perform weekly in a restaurant, I get $50/hr and see 30-60 children in the hour.

My rate for corporate ballooning ranges from $100-150/hr. and while I say I will only see 40-50 children, in a pinch I can crack off 70 figures in an hour. Tradeshow and commercial clients who book more than a dozen hours see ratez as low as $75/hour.

Has anyone seen any REAL discrepancy between any of these rates of professional remuneration?

I have stats for all of my 30 years in the business and never have complaints. Nor do I see busking as a come down, particularly when so doing offers potential clients a venue in which to view me and can yield $1000s in potential business.

I think it far more detrimental to your career to ignore a good venue. However, I have justified my participation in busking with a strong financial comparison. Can you?

After that, the person who would cancel your birthday party after seeing you busking has no clue about the reality of performing. Don't expect to educate them any time soon.
Message: Posted by: ROBERT BLAKE (Feb 27, 2014 05:39PM)
If you think that it can hinder you then it will affect you. because you are more concerned with what other people MIGHT think about you. you are afraid that they won't like you any more and that it will cost you money. if that is your feeling stay away from the street. you will bomb with that kind of attitude. do the street because you like too and you will have fun.
Message: Posted by: Foole4Hire (Feb 27, 2014 06:07PM)
When I busk (balloon art, I will mention) I get a fairly firm average of about $50/hr. I see about 30 kids in that hour.

When I perform weekly in a restaurant, I get $50/hr and see 30-60 children in the hour.

My rate for corporate ballooning ranges from $100-150/hr. and while I say I will only see 40-50 children, in a pinch I can crack off 70 figures in an hour. Tradeshow and commercial clients who book more than a dozen hours see ratez as low as $75/hour.

Has anyone seen any REAL discrepancy between any of these rates of professional remuneration?

I have stats for all of my 30 years in the business and never have complaints. Nor do I see busking as a come down, particularly when so doing offers potential clients a venue in which to view me and can yield $1000s in potential business.

I think it far more detrimental to your career to ignore a good venue. However, I have justified my participation in busking with a strong financial comparison. Can you?

After that, the person who would cancel your birthday party after seeing you busking has no clue about the reality of performing. Don't expect to educate them any time soon.
Message: Posted by: Ekuth (Feb 27, 2014 06:10PM)
Holy double post, Batman!
Message: Posted by: RiffRaff (Feb 27, 2014 06:28PM)
Didn't hurt these guys:
http://mentalfloss.com/article/54866/9-famous-artists-who-began-street-performers
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Feb 27, 2014 07:05PM)
Busking will help make you the best entertainer you can be.
You'll never know how bad your show is until you take it to the streets and watch them walk away mid-trick.

Indoor magicians have it easy.. they just don't know HOW easy.

The few, if any, gigs you lose shouldn't be a consideration.
Message: Posted by: ChrisPilsworth (Feb 27, 2014 09:32PM)
I like how busking routines evolve more quickly on the street. There is the luxury of being able to experiment with moments in a routine. If it doesn't work then I'll try it differently. I'm not worried about how it is received because the audience doesn't pay until the end. Many of my favorite routines got to where they are because of the number of reps I can get with them on the street. That makes my pre-paid shows even better.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Feb 27, 2014 11:11PM)
Absolutely, Chris.
Message: Posted by: Motley Mage (Feb 28, 2014 07:43AM)
Thanks, RiffRaff. I LOVED the list! Especially #9.
Message: Posted by: gallagher (Mar 1, 2014 10:28AM)
Hey guys, I've really tried to hold myself back;
ask my wife(!),
she's still got the keys, to the handcuffs, I've used, to lock myself the the table.

When I first read the Thread, I thought,..
"stay out of it. They're behaving logically, civil, and fair.
hey,.. they WANT to speak about 'the business' aspect"!

As the week went on, I kept getting this itchy finger.
At first, I thought it simply had to do with my Jock Itch.
,but last night, I took a bath,.. and fully shaved,..
,my finger twitched an itch, this morning,.... söö,..
This doesn't fit here, I'm sure,..

I think, a lot of it, has to do with OUR attitude, about ourselves,..what we are doing,. where,..
Street Performing.
Our attitude.

The List of guys, who 'started',on the Streets, is cool.
But, think about it,..
they 'started' there.
Who wanted to 'finish' there?

This attitude of 'starting' there,..
or,... sit down boys,
the thought of using the Streets to test, try- out, or form new material,..
wooo,..
what do WE see the Streets as?
....,our audience as?
Guinia pigs??,..
(...,"but they better pay!")

yeahh, with gigs,.. offers from the Streets;
when I started, I hopped at every quarter tossed in the air.
Then, I got more "professional", and bartered,.. 'better'.,
..and played for bigger checks,..
,but,....hmm, I lost something,
,..something "i" didn't want to loose.
The gigs were,,..more 'professional',..
I know this, because, the other 'Professionals',' only seemed to talked about "with who", "where", and " for how much".
The 'Profession'.
After the Shows,.. "fvvmmm",..everyone raced to get away, as fast as possilble.

,..it's experience,.. it's MY experience,
but, today,..
I don't let 'business' interfer with my pleasure.

I play the Streets, because,.. THAT'S where I want to be.
,..to be performing.
I'm a Street Performer.
I have a Street Show.
I feel good there.
,it's taken time,..
(it might change tomorrow!).

Still, when folks watch us, my lady and I,..
they think "wow!".
(well,.. at least that's what WE want 'em to think!)
Folks never think we're cheap,.. because we're playing the Streets!
In fact, the opposite!!.
It's often, "I know this will probably cost me a bundle, but,.. we're having this party,.. and..."
"Buddy, forget the money,.. what's the Show?"
if we like the 'feeling',..
if it's 'play-ible',.. space-wise, time-wise,..
If we WANT to do it,..
We've never NOT played a gig, we wanted to play,.. because of a 'money-question'.

We don't let business interfer, with our pleasure.

,might sound crazy, but somehow,.. I think our audience smells it,..
(maybe, the cheap-ies,..probably half the crowd,.. maybe ALL,.. see me as an arogant blasturd,.
and therefore stay clear,.!??!)
But, I hope they scence,
"god, these guys are playing the best stage in the world,...,
what an honour to be part of this."

Pounding out Shows,
, " making 'em pay."
god, this sounds like work.
,..maybe your Show comes across 'cheap'?
(This is a question, not an accusation.)

oh, gosh,..I've got another itch,..
hey, maybe it's worms.?..
Maybe, instead of writing a Post,..
I should sit on a Post,..
like really SIT on it,..?
hmm,.
got to go,
my wife's moving the table,..
and,
I still haven't found those keys,..

your friend and mine,
givin' it easy,
gallagher.
Message: Posted by: silvercup (Mar 1, 2014 10:53AM)
"I think, a lot of it, has to do with OUR attitude, about ourselves,..what we are doing,. where,..
Street Performing.
Our attitude."

(a picture of hands clapping) [cause it ain't working right now]
Message: Posted by: noland (Mar 1, 2014 04:30PM)
I busk in the greater Washington DC area, and I also do kid shows--in fact, kid shows are the biggest piece of my business. After a decade of busking, I've only gotten 4 or 5 bookings from busking (although I've had a much greater number than that ask about hiring me for a show). The problem I've always run into is that people who see me busk have this perception that I work cheap, and they simply can't make the leap to paying me the professional fee I ask for a regular show, even though my professional fee is in line with what other area children's performers charge (about $275-$400 for a 45 minute show). So for me, busking has not brought me more work. On the other hand, most people who do hire me for kid shows come to me through my web site (or referrals), which is where they go to hire a magician, and my busking isn't in any way a consideration in their decision making. Therefore, I don't actually lose business because of busking. Busking is something I pursue separately because I enjoy it, it makes me a much better performer and it brings in some extra cash.
Message: Posted by: Nate The Magician (Mar 2, 2014 12:03AM)
May I just say how awesomely lyrical Gallagher's posts are?
Every gig I've gotten has been from street/festival performing- including the weddings! Must be the tux.....
Message: Posted by: keeblem (Mar 2, 2014 01:47AM)
Everyone - I'd really like to thank you all the great comments. There is some great advise above and also food for thought. As I said at the beginning of the post there is no hidden agenda here. It's just something I've wanted to do for a long time. The children's shows provide me with a semi-decent income. But I also want to do something that is more... real? satisfying? hard? spiritual?! I'm 47 and have a young family (2 girls 6 and 3) - so it would be difficult for me to have a true alternative life style. However I spent much of my younger years travelling, drifting and dreaming. And I'd like to recapture that to a certain extent. Also, I'd like to show my children that there is more than one way to skin a cat! - more than one way to live your life. You don't have to play by other people's rules - make your own.

Thanks again
Mark
Message: Posted by: keeblem (Mar 2, 2014 01:48AM)
BTW - Gallagher - I'm glad you didn't hold back! :)
Message: Posted by: Ekuth (Mar 2, 2014 03:57PM)
Gallagher always has something worthwhile to read. He's a gentleman through and through.
Message: Posted by: Iron Butterfly (Mar 2, 2014 05:23PM)
Http://www.asassipartyperformer.com/banjo.htm

My wife and I live in Manhattan NYC. I have been a children's performer since 2004. that's 10 years to all you mathematicians. When I first started I knew little magic except gimmick stuff like the magic coloring book. My first real sleight of hand was in using the sponge balls.

I have slowly evolved from clown to magician/musical performer to busker. Its about the performance not the appearance. Perhaps its the NYC mentality but I have never ever worried about what people think. That does not mean I do not care or give a crappy performance. The point is you can perform your heart out and some folks will find reason to complain while on the opposite side, one can mail in their performance and some will love it.

One of the reasons I strted busking is that our business is weekend oriented. I would never consider working for anyone for less then 100 an hour and that is the rate I charge for agecies to sub contract. I went to the streets to supplement my income for week days. When I am working the street I never ever think about what if someone sees me. Maybe that's because most of the crowds are tourists I will never see anyways.

I will say that if someone offered me 50 dollars to perform I would laugh in their face.
Message: Posted by: EVILDAN (Mar 5, 2014 07:46AM)
Here's a different ending. I was just talking to a friend on Monday and he shared this with me.

Back a few years ago, a friend of his was working a festival (sort of like busking, but getting paid up front) and a corporate type saw and enjoyed his show. He was contacted within the next few days and was asked if he can come out to Las Vegas and perform for a corporate hospitality suite. They quoted him a price of over $1000 per day and said that they would make all the arrangements for flight and hotel accomodations. He's been doing this for the past 3 years.

So, if you lose that $100/hr birthday gig, you just might have room in your schedule to fly out to Vegas for the corporate gig.
Message: Posted by: Iron Butterfly (Mar 7, 2014 04:23PM)
BINGO! lol We all need goals.
Message: Posted by: MagicianFromHades (Mar 20, 2014 11:55PM)
I can tell you, it was a street performer who inspired me to go into magic. I don't look down on them at all!
Message: Posted by: Michael Taggert (Mar 23, 2014 08:15PM)
Y take on this is that as a street performer I have only gotten a handful of gigs from the street. what I have gotten is a skill that has made me a much better performer. Noland is humble he is a very shard well scripted performer he got there on the streets in here in DC. My skills at movement and presentation came from years on the Renn faire circuit. touring and performing as a street and platform performer. These skills make you a better performer and thus better at getting inside gigs. Incidentally see Noland at magi-whirl 2014 as a guest performer.