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DATMagic
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Hey Guys,

I'm just going to vent a little here, hopefully not to offend anyone, but just to see if there are others like me, or better yet, others to help me get my thinking clearer. I just got an e-mail on the IBM convention happening in Dallas, TX next year and I really got excited because not only is it driving distance, but it's only 3 hours away. I'm immediately ready to send in my reservation and then it starts setting in. 250 for me, 250 for my wife, 99 x 4 nights hotel stay, gas to get there, ride around in dallas, and gas back home, eats for 4 to 5 days (only 2 meals a day), time taken off work for both me and my wife, and then I'd like to spend a little in the vendor room. But it dawns on me that I'll spend close to $1500.00 before I even buy the first deck of cards! Now we consider ourselves extremely blessed with good jobs, a nice home, bills that are in line, and at least some money tucked away for a rainy day, but what about those less fortunate or the magicians getting started busting their humps everyday at school shows, nightly restaurant gigs, and weekend birthday parties just barely hanging on to the dream of supporting themselves through magic? Okay-I feel better, I'm 60% sure I'll go anyway, but I sure wish the dollar amount didn't push it to be a decision between a family vacation or a magic convention.
Have a great weekend, and start saving!
David
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spatrick
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And that's the reason why I have never been to a national convention during my 22 years in magic, unless you count that one time in New Orleans when me and a buddy snuck into the dealers room. I live 5 1/2 hours from Pittsburgh and I am still debating on attending the SAM convention in 2011.

On top of that I don't even go to anything more than a one day convention due to the fact that I perform on the weekends and I can't afford to give up a weekends worth of shows.

I actually try to book morning shows on days that have one day conventions so that I can do a show and then hit the convention in the afternoon. Usually all I miss in the morning is a long boring auction or just hanging out in the dealer room.

I'd love to attend a convention tailored to my magical tastes but that convention wouldn't make any money. ;-)


S. Patrick
DATMagic
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It seems like the "smaller" conventions might be the way for most of us magicians to go to get the best value. I attended the Louisiana Magic Weekend 2 years ago, had a great time, saw some fantastic acts, spent close to $1000.00 on new magic, and spent less than what it will cost to get to the Dallas convention. Any other thoughts out there? Are these national conventions pricing themselves out of the market? Are they focusing on retirees with good pensions, no kids, and proceeds from the motor coaches they just sold? Are they only interested in high earning Drs., Atts., and double six figure income families? Reading the reports from the different Rings in the Linking Ring seems to reflect a decline in membership, meeting attendance, and overall decling moral in several articles-of the ones that even send in a report, seems like most rings don't even bother! The Magic Café forum seems to be the best value for me as far as information, comraderie, knowlege, and accessibility. Epiphany here-I've never sent a dime to help this forum along. I feel ignorant right now and will be pulling out my check book before the end of the night. See my wife is right - sometimes just bichn' and moaning costs you money.
David
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magic4u02
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I appreciate everyone's thoughts and I value your opinions as well. As a magician who works and also travels to many national conventions, I just wanted to put in my 2 cents worth and my opinion based on attending these conventions in the past. Hope it helps.

The bottom line is that you have to decide what is right for you. However, one must realize that these National Conventions are amazing and a lot of fun. There are several key factors we can talk about and address here.

- Many people falsely think that a National Convention is either a vacation OR a convention. However, they should realize that in many cases it is BOTH. I always see the convention as a vacation AND a convention. Every city has something to offer a family and you can make for a fun time together while seeing magic and experiencing what the convention has to offer.

- Now the family does not have to pay full price at all. Many National Conventions will allow passes for dealers room or even just pay a ticket for the evening show. Even more conventions have family outings for those who do not want to take part in any lectures etc. So there is always stuff do to as a family.

- I see many folks attend local conventions and spend a fortune on magic or at the auction. That is perfectly fine and a lot of fun. However, the same amount of money can be spent attending a national convention on a much larger scale.

- The local conventions often lack the star power and the ability to get top acts. Not all of them, but most of them. The National Conventions give you the best talent and the best lectures and the most amount of dealers that you can directly interact with and buy products from.

- The National conventions also usually always have a stage contest and a close up contest that brings out the very best in contestants and acts. It is always fun to watch and to take part in.

- One of the biggest reasons I personally go to a National convention is simply because the people are great. I meet and share with old friends and I always meet a ton of new ones. It is a fun time to just be together and share in the magic experience with folks I only see once a year.

The conventions are still a bargain for most. There are local conventions that are pricing themsleves way higher then what you would get at a National convention and you are getting far less for your money.

With the SAM (not sure on the IBM convention) we get a lot of kids and a lot of families also) The Society of Young Magicians attracts young members and their are events set up just for the youth to be directly involved in magic workshops and shows and lectures just aimed for them alone. It has great value for them also.

So it does come down to personal preference and to what works best for you as an individual. Just hope this shines some light on some aspects of the national conventions and gets people thinking about them a bit differently.

Kyle
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alexgutz
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David,
You're more than welcome to attend the 2011 TAOM Convention in San Antonio, Texas. Check out the national and international talent lineup and check the downtown Hilton Palacio Del Rio Hotel by the Riverwalk hotel rates plus check out the convention registration rates and bring the family. I'll be glad to show you around.......check it out at: taom2011.com

Alex
DATMagic
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Alex,

Thanks for the invitation! We attended in 2009 and had a great time and got tons of material to spruce up and interject into my own personal routines. Plus, just like Kyle said in his post, we met a lot of magicians and spouses that we have kept in contact with through phone calls, emails, and the occasional get together. These are great people to know and you can't beat a good magician friend to talk to just after a party that you feel like you nailed and you're on cloud nine, your adrenaline is flowing, and you just want someone that can relate to you. On the other hand, sometimes a few words of wisdom from someone you respect are so tactfully said, you don't realize it till a few days later when it dawns on you that maybe you could've a line, gag, or trick a little different with just as good or even better results. Conventions, the IBM, SAM, The Magic Café, etc.. they're all fantastic and I support them whole heartedly, and financially, I just wonder if the convention was held in not so grand a center, the lodging was super 8's or motel 6, the food was brown bag lunches, and the tickets were 100 bucks, how many people would complain, have less fun, meet fewer new friends, or leave with discounted memories?

And that's my 2 cents worth.
David A Trombetta

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dogical
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hugmagic
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David,
You have hit the nail on the head with convention's costs. As a dealer, I sat out all of last year on the National level because the costs did not justify the returns especially with the current economic climate.

I do several regional conventions most years. I do enjoy them and the Nationals for different reasons. The regional conventions give you more one on one time with people. But the nationals give you the chance to meet people from outside your areas to get fresh ideas and viewpoints. But it does seem strange that we spend so much money just to visit with friends at conventions.

I have expressed my concerns on many fronts to various convention people. There are several real problems facing all conventions today, regional or national.

First, the costs passed on by hotels and theaters have risen dramatically over the 30 years I have been dealing. Those costs have to be paid by someone.

Second, there is a limited talent pool available. I may do more conventions that most people but I have seen a great many of these acts several times. Often those appearances are not that far times apart. They are great acts but how many times can you see them? As a side note, the costs just to bring in those acts have also risen significantly.

Third, performers are now doing lecture tours all over the country. I remember when the only way to see a lecture was to go to a national convention. Now not only are they available at national and regional conventions but lecturers book many clubs and groups on their own. Lets not even get started on the Internet conventions which appear to be a future way to get lectures.

Fourth, there are too many conventions. Everyone saw this as a way to make money and decided to run a convention. Some of them do make money but there is a very real risk staging a convention. You can go to a convention every week someplace in the United States. Sometimes, they run conflicting dates with each other.

Those are just a few of the problems facing convention organizers. There is not an easy solution. I think no one has all the answers. I do think you are seeing organizers scrambling trying to come up with a new model for the magic convention. The model they most have been using is from the 1950's. In those days, there were the two big national conventions which pulled the top talent in from all over the world. If you wanted to have a more homey atmosphere, you went to the regional conventions like Tannens, TAOM, Abbotts, PCAM, or MagiFest. They were close to home and you went to visit with friends. It was just a different time.

While some think of conventions and vacations in the same sentence, I do not. I very seldom get to see anything of a city I am in. I am usually at the convention 90% of the time. I see the most when I go to get something to eat. But this is one of the reasons, the conventions move around. Some magicians have wife's who could care less about the magic but will go if they can see the sites. So we move the sites around.

Moving the sites around does pose another problem. Every town may or may not have local people who are capable or able to help the national organizers stage the convention. I remember a national convention a few years ago without a group even close to the city. It made it extremely hard to find the last minute things one needs for a convention. Maybe a spotlight, or a sound system, or just transportation to and from the theater. Local people can really prove a godsend in those situations.

A couple of ideas that I passed on that might help. First, promote the evening shows hard to the general public. Let them fill the theater and help pay for the costs of the convention. Use promoters like circus people (circuses still make a lot of money all over the country). So what if you have to give them 10% of their gross sales. Fill the theater. Sell tickets at a moderate price. $25 for Adults, $10 for kids, Family of four $65. Make it a family friendly event. Contact church and civic organizations. There are a lot of ways this could go. Plus it will help boost the public perception of magic.

This type of marketing does benefit from annual performances in the same city. Maybe it is not every year but every other year or every third year. The public needs to become more involved in our conventions to help defray the costs.

Cutting costs is a real option also. I believe most conventions have cut their costs to the bone already. Show are being done in hotels or college theaters which are much cheaper than union theaters. I do not know how much more they can realistically cut costs down.

I know of several small conventions that have used this public support of the convention with great success. Magic in the Rockies, Winter Carnival and Battle of Magicians have all relied on public support to the convention.

Let me give you an example, I am very familiar with..the Battle of Magicians in Canton, Ohio. Tim Dermeer has run this for 20 years. Registration has never went over 175 people at under $100. Yet he has booked some of the top talent in the world, sometimes before the major conventions did. , He has booked Jeff Hobson, Kalin and Jinger, John Calvert, David and Dania, Dana Daniels, Mike Caveney, Tina Lennert, Woody Pittman, Mark Kornhauser, Jay Marshall, Billy McComb, Terry Seabrooke, and many, many top flight acts.

The convention starts Thursday night and ends Saturday night with a free buffet for attendees at the hotel. Dealer set up in their hotel rooms. A lot of conventions used to do dealers this way. It is held a nice but moderate priced hotel (usually about $75). There are plenty of places around to eat and free parking. Contests are held in closeup and stage with $500 first prizes.

The convention is funded by a large public turnout for the big Saturday night show. After 20 years, there is a good following. Lots of radio and newspaper ads help promote the event well in advance. It is listed in the annual things to do listings. That can be done because of the repeat shows. As everyone realizes one of the biggest cost is getting your acts in for the convention. Once they are there, your major expenses have been handled. A second show, identical to the Saturday night show, is run on Sunday afternoon for the public. By lodging your acts another night (unless they take a night flight out which saves the extra lodging) and giving a little extra money to them, you have developed another source of convention revenue. The theater is a restored, non union house that makes rental very affordable. Ads are sold in the program to local businesses.

So this does work. One guy has not only done this for 20 years. He has made some money with it. I know that the other conventions I mentioned do similar things with the public shows. I think that is very important part in increasing the revenue to the convention.

I know this post has went on far too long. I care deeply about the national conventions. But as a businessman, I have to weigh out the cost of attending every time I go. For me it is a chance to wave the flag, show the product and talk to people. I very, very seldom every break even going. But often it is the sales down the road that make it worthwhile for me. I am sure that every convention attendee weighs out the pros and cons on the costs of every convention.

Having said all this, I plan to be at Pittsburgh for the SAM this year. I know they are working hard to revitalize the national convention and keep it affordable. Hopefully, things will turn around for both major groups.

Richard
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Mowee
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I have attended both regional (TAOM and Magifest) and national conventions (both SAM and IBM). They certainly are different animals. Yup it is a hard choice, but overall the talent at the National Conventions has traditionally is better...which is one reason it costs so much. I have had experiences at both I would never trade. I tend to agree with Kyle.
DavidSandy
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Hello all,

As one of the I.B.M. Convention Co-Chairmen for the Dallas Convention next year, let me offer the following comments.

First of all, as many of you stated, producing a convention and offering top-rated talent, a hotel venue large enough to accommodate all of our events and required meeting space, a nice professional hotel within walking distance of the hotel... all at an affordable price is harder than you can possibly imagine.

The National Conventions truly are unique and offer many advantages. The registration fee of $250 (if you register prior to 12/31/10) for the I.B.M. member is really a very good value considering all that you get.

This year's early registration fee is even a better value than the past couple of years. For example, if you registered for last year's San Diego convention at this time, here's what you would have paid:

$235 for the I.B.M. member plus $50 for the banquet & show for a total of $285. The registration cost was the same cost for the member's spouse. For the 2011 Dallas convention, if you register at this time, you'll pay $250 for the I.B.M. (same for spouse) and that includes the banquet and 4th big stage show.

Please understand that it certainly is not our desire nor goal to make a profit on the convention... we've budgeted to just cover expenses. In spite of our having to face rising costs and expenses in just about every area, we truly feel as though we are offering a tremendous value at $250 per person. In comparison, the cost to attend the S.A.M. is $290 for the S.A.M. member and the same for the spouse (including the banquet)... and the cost to attend Magic Live is $335 per person, and that does not include a banquet (plus it only includes two stage shows as opposed to the four you'll get with your I.B.M. registration).

On top of the registration value at the Dallas 2011 Convention, we've secured a great hotel rate of $99 per night (plus tax). Next year's hotel rate for the Dallas Convention is actually about $17 less per night than it was in San Diego... and about $16 less per night than it was in 2009 when the I.B.M. convention was in Nashville.

The convention committee hopes that when you look at all of the added value that I.B.M. promises to provide during the 2011 Convention, plus the lower registration cost than our 2010 convention... and the considerably lower registration fees than other major magic conventions in 2011, you'll agree that you really do get a lot of "bang for the buck" when you register for the I.B.M. convention in Dallas.

As stated in the email and magazine advertisements, the 2011 I.B.M. Convention in Dallas promises some brand-new things never seen before at an I.B.M. convention. We are definitely excited about these new additions to the event! Visit the website at http://www.magician.org/portal/en/node/6 for more!

Thanks so much!

Best,

David Sandy
I.B.M. Annual Convention Co-Chairman
I.B.M. International President 2003-2004
DATMagic
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Thanks for the insight guys, I can only imagine what kind of a challenge it is to put on a great show, plus, have the contacts, volunteers, business sense, and stamina that is required to do it. I still plan on being there in 2011 but it would be an easier choice if I could save a few hundred dollars by maybe incorporating some of the ideas Richard mentioned in his previous post. Maybe over time pricing and funding will become a bigger concern due to smaller turn out and a more focused demographic group of people, and the convention organizers, planners, and developers will be forced to look at different ways to generate revenue. As for now I think they are putting on some real First class shows and I applaud them for it! My only hope is that eventually they will begin to understand that some of us don't mind coach as long as we can get there.

David
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magicjy
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Quote:
Second, there is a limited talent pool available. I may do more conventions that most people but I have seen a great many of these acts several times. Often those appearances are not that far times apart. They are great acts but how many times can you see them? As a side note, the costs just to bring in those acts have also risen significantly.

Richard


Richard...I agree 100% that I have seen some acts many times. Plus my wife gets bored with the same type of acts over and over. I just don't get why someone books 2 dove acts, 3 card maniplation acts, 2 similar illusions acts, etc. at the same convention. However, I DISAGREE that there is a limited talent pool available. The issue is that the powers of be books the SAME people over and over and over! I'm not going to say names of talent but it is very easy to figure it out. Just ONCE will some of these conventions book "REAL WORLD" working acts that everyone has not seen 12 times already. If anyone wants any ideas then please send me a PM and I will be happy to help.

Joseph
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If you can do that, you can make anything happen. - Foka Gomez

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ggarcia
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I would agree with seeing the same people at conventions. there are quite a few names I can come up with that are everywhere. This definitely is a major consideration for me when deciding on attending a convention. This is why I am very excited about TAOM 2011. If you look at the names that have already been booked, they arent your typical names. very excited about tom stone...

John Archer
Tom Stone
Quentin Reynolds
David Kaplan
Curt Miller
Wayne Houchin
Amos Levkovitch
Nick Lewin
Mark Worgan
Oscar Munoz
Wayne Dobson
Cody Comet
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All this is why I love the Unconventional Convention in Corbin, KY! First off, registration only $20 per magician! Family gets in free! The Lodge pricing isn't much different from the hotel, but $20 registration helps it become more affordable. This year, we're having two guest stars, but usually we only have one. With there only being one major lecturer, the guest can go in depth and spend all night Friday and all day Saturday making sure we understand their material and giving us all the pointers we need. And with their only being one or two at most, it's easier to strike up a conversation with them. And the gala shows are open-mics, made up of the registrants. But what truely sets it apart is that it is at the gorgeous Cumberland Falls State Park, right in the middle of the forest and in a short distance of the falls!

This year's Unconventional Convention is in about two weeks and I'm looking forward to it! This will be my 5th or 6th year going and I hope there will be many more!
magicjy
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Quote:
On 2010-10-16 16:32, Cody Comet wrote:
All this is why I love the Unconventional Convention in Corbin, KY! First off, registration only $20 per magician! Family gets in free! The Lodge pricing isn't much different from the hotel, but $20 registration helps it become more affordable. This year, we're having two guest stars, but usually we only have one. With there only being one major lecturer, the guest can go in depth and spend all night Friday and all day Saturday making sure we understand their material and giving us all the pointers we need. And with their only being one or two at most, it's easier to strike up a conversation with them. And the gala shows are open-mics, made up of the registrants. But what truely sets it apart is that it is at the gorgeous Cumberland Falls State Park, right in the middle of the forest and in a short distance of the falls!

This year's Unconventional Convention is in about two weeks and I'm looking forward to it! This will be my 5th or 6th year going and I hope there will be many more!


Cody,

I like the Unconventional Convention in Corbin, KY too. Actually, I have been to it about four times but not been there in about five years because of my schedule. Hate that I will miss it again on November 5 and 6 because I have a couple of shows. I'm sure you will have a great time and some of my friends will be there.
Keep the magic going.

Joseph
---
MAGIC is believing in yourself.
If you can do that, you can make anything happen. - Foka Gomez

Joseph Young
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Paul Budd
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Here's an idea to help conserve expenses: leave the wife at home!
His face isn't really this long in-person!
___________________________________________
Once Upon A Magician blog
alexgutz
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Paul,
Bring the wife to the TAOM 2011 Convention.....only $100 for spouses and $85 for children. NO price increases come January, 2011......super lineup of talent and dealers.
AndrewJ
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Quote:
Here's an idea to help conserve expenses: leave the wife at home!
From experience, that stops saving money once you walk alone into the dealer's room.
Jim Oliver
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Hello David,

Just to let you know; I have been into magic since I was 7 and now I am 51.

I am a member of The Order of Merlin and in just 3 years will be in The Order of Merlin
Shield for 35 years continuous membership in the I.B.M.

Guess what? I have never belonged to a Ring nor have I ever been to a magic convention!

I used to hang out with a few magicians locally, but they had a tendency to steel my material.
So I don't feel like I really need to go and hang with the Big Boys.

I still have a few really good friends in magic like Brett Sherwood whom I have known since
high school, so I am content to order books, practice, and perform without missing the conventions.

Jim Oliver
Ed Marlo rules
MarkinMadison
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I went to the IBM convention in San Diego, as well as a smaller regional convention this year. No comparison. The national convention has better lectures, better acts and more quality dealers. I was very happy with the investment of going to the national convention. The lectures especially popped, and the dealers were first rate. Go. You'll be glad you did.
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