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FreefallFool
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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
Smile It's not how far you fall, it's how you land... Smile
Dynamike
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My advice is to be prepared by putting yourself ahead. Purchase "Jailhouse": magicproshop.com
FreefallFool
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Thanks D. I'll have a proper look when I have more time. Looks interesting though...

J.
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Dynamike
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You are welcome J.
dicedealer007
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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.
Vic Nadata
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Run and get the David Stone Real Secrets of Magic Vol 1 DVD. It is full of great useful information and great tricks.
JackScratch
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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.
airship
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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.
'The central secret of conjuring is a manipulation of interest.' - Henry Hay
FreefallFool
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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...
Smile It's not how far you fall, it's how you land... Smile
JackScratch
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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.
FreefallFool
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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...
Smile It's not how far you fall, it's how you land... Smile
abc
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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.
FreefallFool
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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...
Smile It's not how far you fall, it's how you land... Smile
Mark Wilden
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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? Smile

///ark
Geoff Weber
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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.
FreefallFool
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Cheers Mark, I think you have a point but I do 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...
Smile It's not how far you fall, it's how you land... Smile
abc
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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.
FreefallFool
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Abc,

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

Jason
Smile It's not how far you fall, it's how you land... Smile
Mark Wilden
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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 all 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.
FreefallFool
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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 your 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...
Smile It's not how far you fall, it's how you land... Smile
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