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Profile of Angus
Hopefully this is the right place to put this. The topic here made me wonder, how many of us do this as a hobby as opposed to a career? For those of you that do it as a career, what's your take on my doing restaraunt gigs for either free or for dinner just for the fun of performing?

Should I pass on a gig that's paying and point them towards a magi that needs it to live off of?

I'm not looking to start any flame wars either, just curious about it.
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bizarre iowa
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Profile of roguemagic
I would ask you a few questions: How would you feel if you were trying to make a living as a performer, and people were 'giving away' similar entertainment? How might this affect your business? Does it actually demean what you do?

Then again, there are ample local magicians that undercut my prices, and yet I keep as busy as I wish. What does this show the customer about the services he receives from "the other guy?" Do you actually 'get what you pay for?'

Also, other than potentially booking a future paying job, why WOULD you give away your services? I would love it if someone would paint my house this Spring for free. Any takers?

Pardon my rambling...

Take care,
Craig Wilson
Steven Steele
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Profile of Steven Steele
This scenario doesn't necessarily apply only to magic. I know a plastering contractor who wants to take care of his employees. He pays all of the necessary taxes, licenses, and required insurance, etc. Other contractors pay their people cash under the table and have no insurance or other benefits. He usually charges 50% of what the legal contractors charge. The illegal operation has been around for years...the legal ones stay for awhile, lay off everybody, and then move on.

But I'm sure there are many happy people that got that job done cheap!

Coram Deo
impossible man
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Profile of impossible man
I find that people are more impressed by the same trick once they know how much I charge. You may just have trouble getting gigs where money changes hands for everyone but you. Then there is the position of the restaurant. They may feel more "in control" of the situation if they are paying you. Others may question your motivation, thinking you may lack experience. Still others may feel guilty if they don't pay you something. At least take enough money to pay for more tricks or books. Advance your skills. Of course there is nothing wrong with giving people more than they pay for. It seems to work out well on my day job.

You might combine the free show idea with a public service mentality, and perform for groups that normally could not afford a show. I have worked at a rescue mission and a shelter for the homeless, and done a show for a food bank where the admission was a can of food. I'm not bragging, I'm just suggesting venues for free perfomances that don't conflict with paid magicians.
Dean Gilbert
Impossible Man
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Profile of Wolfgang
As I've mentioned in other posts, I ONLY do free shows. But I only do them for places that I feel are worthy of free shows—hospitals, nursing/retirement homes, and the occasional charity fund-raiser.

Often people at these shows will try to hire me for a birthday party or other personal event, but I decline, telling them that they cannot afford my noncharity rate— $50,000 a show.

Obviously, I happen to think my show is worth quite a lot, and I give it as a gift only to those who deserve it—very sick children trapped in a horribly cold environment and elderly people who are lucky if their families visit once a month.

A restaurant hires you so it can attract more people and make more money. They should pay you whatever you think you're worth. In my opinion, giving your performance away for a grilled chicken breast with a side of English peas debases your craft.
"Sure, I do Scotch and Soda in every show. What? You mean there's a trick by that name?"
Jim Snack
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Profile of Jim Snack
I concur with a number of the points made above.

People definitely value something more if they pay for it. When you give away your services often you're not treated as well— poor performing conditions, etc. As a result, it can be difficult to do a good job. If you are doing it for fun, believe me, it won't be much fun.

Doing a free show may be a good idea for a couple of reasons, however. Perhaps as a fundraiser for a charitable cause, or to entertain sick children. But not in a restaurant. (Unless you are appearing as a marketing strategy to get exposure in front of potential clients.)

If a business like a restaurant is using your services to build traffic and create goodwill you should definitely share in any profit that results from the value you provide. If you want to barter for dinner that's okay, because you are now getting paid for your services. If you are doing it for free, you are just undercutting those who try to make a living at it, and undervaluing it in the marketplace.

It would be better to stick with donating free shows to worthy causes than to businesses.

Jim Snack
Jim Snack

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Profile of Wolfgang
You're right, Jim, about the barter thing. I stand corrected.

Peforming for a good rib eye and bar tab is always acceptable.
"Sure, I do Scotch and Soda in every show. What? You mean there's a trick by that name?"
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