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Bob1Dog
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Friends, while my moniker is labeled as Elite User with 420 or so posts, in fact, most of those posts have been related to my getting into magic performing only about a year ago at the tender age of 62. So I don't consider myself an elite user. That said I'd appreciate your comments on my following situation:

I've finally jumped in and performed publicly on four separate occasions in the last three months, one of them including an audition for a local library. Each of these performances were performed for free and for charitable purposes. Each of my performances went as well as can be expected for a newcomer like me. I made mistakes but they weren't important enough for me to worry about them but rather they were wonderful learning experiences.

The audition was good enough for me to be "hired" for two library shows in the spring of 2011, albeit for free. I billed myself to the library as an apprentice magician wishing to work for free and for the practice. So I'll be performing those spring shows for free also.

I have some very good magician friends (both good magicians and good friends) who have advised me I shouldn't continue to perform for free. First because it's taking work from other magicians (despite that in my rural Delaware, there aren't that many macicians to be found). And secondly because I'm advised that if I'm a cheap hire, I'll be treated cheaply. I haven't found that to be the case yet.

I don't have the confidence yet to charge a fee and I'm perfectly comfortable getting a dozen or more shows under my belt before I consider charging a fee. And my performances will all be for charity, ie., senior centers, low income housing folks, kids with disabilities, etc.

So, once again, your thoughts; to charge or not to charge, and how do you know when you're good enough to charge a fee?
What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about? Smile

My neighbor rang my doorbell at 2:30 a.m. this morning, can you believe that, 2:30 a.m.!? Lucky for him I was still up playing my drums.
Jaz
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You're 62!
Do what you want to.
If doing charity gigs makes you happy then by all means do it.
Some of the best pay comes from the heart.

You know when you're good enough when you get the good audience responses.
Bob1Dog
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Jaz, I am doing what I want to do...but what about the argument that I am taking work from other magicians and being treated cheaply for cheap labor? I guess I'm talking about the ethics vs the charity, from the points of view of working magicians out there.

Good advice on the audience response! So far it's been a mixed bag. Good response from some effects, not so good from others. That's what I've learned so far and am working on fine tuning the mix of effects. Thanks for your comments. Best, Bob
What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about? Smile

My neighbor rang my doorbell at 2:30 a.m. this morning, can you believe that, 2:30 a.m.!? Lucky for him I was still up playing my drums.
davidpaul$
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I was told by someone, can't remember who:
"Do you know what free shows will get you?....more free shows"....I found that to be very true.

I do perform twice a year where I donate my services for a charity and a fundraiser. That's it.

There is nothing wrong with being compensated for your time and efforts...Just charge accordingly with regard to your skill level. BTW Assisted Living Centers/Senior Care Centers are required by law to provide entertainment to their residence and they do have a budget for that. Library shows are a viable market for magicians so yes you could potentially be eliminating the possibility of a paying job for someone including yourself.

If you were a car mechanic would you change every one's oil for free at the Library parking lot?
I know that's apples and oranges, but I'm a firm believer in charging "something" for your services if the funds are available. You certainly could choose a couple of charitable organizations or even hospitals.
(Just be ready for the security clearance/background checks)

I know you are getting you feet wet so to speak and the venues you described are great places to "get your wings". As you become more comfortable with yourself and your performances then by all means start charging, especially the Library in your example. As mentioned Library shows are a viable income market.

Just my opinions of course.
David Paul
If you can't help worrying, remember worrying can't help you!
rklew64
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Why do you seek permission or allowance to make your performance time billable?
Please make your own choice based on your life experience and gut feeling. Are those other magicians you consulted with in the same level you are at? Please remind yourself of the context of your audience and the various venues.

And if you even think about charging - Will paying people get a really good production value from your show. Because if you go Pro, you know there is an inherent "Show me" expectation of any performance or performer.
Here is a good question or litmus test for you to think about since it has not yet been mentioned, Would you pay to see someone like you with your current skill set and talent and presentation and appearance. Plain and simple, yes or no and then you should be able to answer the $64,000 question.
Do you have a cohesive semi-polished act or is it a ramble of tricks, which is okay also if wrapped in a theme or with some story background. If there was an American Idol for magicians, would you make the cut?
Have you seen the movie "Is Anybody There" with Michael Caine?
Sorry for the harsh thoughts, I do not want you to set yourself up or having other people allow you to throw yourself under the bus all because they did not want to hurt your feelings. Perhaps even a year in, it might be too early to consider a fee? I don't even know what your act comprises let alone being at for a year or 2 or 3. Are you a jack of all trades kind of magician with cards, coin, rope, and sponge, silks and misc (props). or is it all 30 minutes of card (Do you own at least an ID deck?). Do you have a decent DL, although it is optional. Can you do a coin 3 fly or a coin through a hankie? Prof. Nightmare? Do you use the assistance of picked volunteers?
Believe me when I say I'm not writing all this to you just to **** you off or discourage you from magic. If anything, it is to get you there. That is my very ignorant opinion also.
Cyberqat
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I think its honestly up to you.

If most of your work is charity work then I don't think you are taking money otu of anyone else's pocket.

If you really don't *want* to charge, but feel you must value your work, then my suggestion is to come up with a made up fee... say $50 an hour.
Then *donate* that work to the charities you work for.

That way you get a tax deduction and no one can accuse you of devaluing the market.
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
mahucharn
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If you love performing for people, restaurant magic isn't a bad way to go; you get to see new people every time you work, with the possibility of some "regulars". But I agree with Jaz, do what you want to do! If you want to start getting payed for your magic, I believe Penguinmagic has a free series on it, and I've found it to be rather helpful. Link: http://www.penguinmagic.com/showbusiness.php.

By the way, the post above mine made me laugh, but it is totally true. With the economy being so tight, people are always looking for donations. Whether it's with the nearest food closet, a public high school, a homeless person, the possibilities are endless.

Just my thoughts of course,
Mahucharn
davidpaul$
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Quote:
On 2010-12-07 20:05, Cyberqat wrote:
I think its honestly up to you.

If most of your work is charity work then I don't think you are taking money otu of anyone else's pocket.

If you really don't *want* to charge, but feel you must value your work, then my suggestion is to come up with a made up fee... say $50 an hour.
Then *donate* that work to the charities you work for.

That way you get a tax deduction and no one can accuse you of devaluing the market.


DANGER Will Robinson!! You can't get a tax deduction value for donated services. That's a big NO-No! You can however claim some expenses such as vehicle mileage and certain related expenses. Check with your tax advisor!!
If you can't help worrying, remember worrying can't help you!
Bob1Dog
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Wow, some great comments here!

rklew64, you didn't **** me off at all and I appreciate the thought you put into your response. To just answer a few of your questions, I'm not a card guy but have ID and can use it, among other card effects. I'm not a coin guy but I can do a coin and hank penetration, Scotch and Soda and even a French drop! I do the simple stuff with cards and coins, but the more difficult sleights aren't for me. My best stuff is in parlor type things that I find gets nice response; again, simple stuff; dove pan to produce all kinds of things; sucker die, multum in parvo, milk pitcher, acrobatic silks, Kovari's pom pom stick, silk blendos, magic teapot, vanishing bandana, lota bowl running gag, six card repeat, mismade flag and other change bag stuff, a few mentalism things (horrors to the mentalists who don't like magicians doing their shtick); and lots of other standard parlor effects, so I guess I'm a jack at magic rather than a master. I yearn to learn cups and balls.

My method is to keep it visual, enchanting, funny if possible and magical;, not too much patter because someone else once said an agent told him, I don't want talk, I want magic, and lots of it. I like working with seniors and kids, which works with my style, visual, quick, goofy and funny. I realize I have to flow through my show and that's what I'm presently working on.

Would I pay to see myself? Probably not. But I just landed a free Christmas show for low income housing folks based on the recommendation from the library folks I auditioned for. But again, as DavidPaul$ said, free shows just get you more free shows. But, free shows also expose you to paying folks, I think. I guess I'll know when the time is right.

Discouraged? Not a bit. I love this stuff too much to stop, whether I get paid or not. But I think each of us has a need to inmprove, and I find improving through performing (even if for free) is the best education I can get.

I haven't seen Michael Caine's "Is Anybody There?" but will Netflix it for my next movie! Ironically I just watched "The Prestige" with Michael Caine again the other night for the second time.

Cyberqat, you always have a fresh look at things and I do like the idea of charging the fee and donating it for the tax deduction!

And Mahucharn, you'll be interested in knowing I'm considering doing restaurant walk around things by request of a local owner who I worked for in one of my free performances. I started my magic journey with standard closeup stuff, bill tube, nested coin boxes, and countless others. Again, for free, just to practice.

So, keep them coming folks....and please understand, I'm not seeking "permission" to do anything. I've earned my place on the planet and am one to do as I please. But education is a wondrous thing about life, it never stops unless you let it. The folks in the Café have contributed enormously in my magical journey and I thank you!

Quote:
On 2010-12-07 21:16, davidpaul$ wrote:
Quote:
On 2010-12-07 20:05, Cyberqat wrote:
I think its honestly up to you.

If most of your work is charity work then I don't think you are taking money otu of anyone else's pocket.

If you really don't *want* to charge, but feel you must value your work, then my suggestion is to come up with a made up fee... say $50 an hour.
Then *donate* that work to the charities you work for.

That way you get a tax deduction and no one can accuse you of devaluing the market.

DANGER Will Robinson!! You can't get a tax deduction value for donated services. That's a big NO-No! You can however claim some expenses such as vehicle mileage and certain related expenses. Check with your tax advisor!!

Uh-oh, I didn't see this while writing my response above... guess I'll check the tax deduction thing out! I still like your advice anyway Cyberqat! Maybe we both should look for a tax guy! bob
What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about? Smile

My neighbor rang my doorbell at 2:30 a.m. this morning, can you believe that, 2:30 a.m.!? Lucky for him I was still up playing my drums.
55Hudson
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Bob,
The request to work at a restaurant suggests that you are god enough to charge a fee. Sounds like you aren't in it for the money, how about charging the restaurant a fee and then donating that cash to a charity? No guilt on taking the cash, you don't work for free when another magician might be paid for it, and you get regular practice. Just a thought.

Hudson
Cyberqat
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Quote:
On 2010-12-07 21:16, davidpaul$ wrote:
Quote:
On 2010-12-07 20:05, Cyberqat wrote:
I think its honestly up to you.

If most of your work is charity work then I don't think you are taking money out of anyone else's pocket.

If you really don't *want* to charge, but feel you must value your work, then my suggestion is to come up with a made up fee... say $50 an hour.
Then *donate* that work to the charities you work for.

That way you get a tax deduction and no one can accuse you of devaluing the market.

DANGER Will Robinson!! You can't get a tax deduction value for donated services. That's a big NO-No! You can however claim some expenses such as vehicle mileage and certain related expenses. Check with your tax advisor!!

Ah, okay. I didn';t know that as I seldom have the time to donate services.

I think that sucks and you aught to be able to write off a service at the appropriate rate for the area, but if that's the law then there you have it.

Quote:
On 2010-12-07 22:25, Cyberqat wrote:
Quote:
On 2010-12-07 21:16, davidpaul$ wrote:
Quote:
On 2010-12-07 20:05, Cyberqat wrote:
I think its honestly up to you.

If most of your work is charity work then I don't think you are taking money otu of anyone else's pocket.

If you really don't *want* to charge, but feel you must value your work, then my suggestion is to come up with a made up fee... say $50 an hour.
Then *donate* that work to the charities you work for.

That way you get a tax deduction and no one can accuse you of devaluing the market.

DANGER Will Robinson!! You can't get a tax deduction value for donated services. That's a big NO-No! You can however claim some expenses such as vehicle mileage and certain related expenses. Check with your tax advisor!!

Ah, okay. I didn';t know that as I seldom have the time to donate services.

I think that sucks and you aught to be able to write off a service at the appropriate rate for the area, but if that's the law then there you have it.

A question you might ask your tax guy is if it is deductible if they hand you a check, and then you hand it back.

Probably not, as its an obvious loophole, but I'd be curious as to the answer.
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
rklew64
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Thank you for your reply Bob1Dog, being a good sport and humoring me with a quick sample of your repertoire from my asinine questioning.
Well then I would propose you start designing your biz card!
Bob1Dog
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Hudson, interesting that you say that; I never considered the psychology behind the request from the restaurant owner. I did a show for him a month ago to promote his monthly Saturday morning coffee and cupcakes special. It was a little walk around and mostly parlor. Even he said the parlor wouldn't work for the evening restaurant business, but without even seeing me perform other walk around stuff, he invited me to come in and perform some evening and he would cover my dinner and bar afterward. Just for practice. Practice for him too, he said, because he's fairly new in the business himself. So, back to the original question, by being cheap, am I cheapening myself? Not that I care, they have a great Italian menu! Bob

Quote:
On 2010-12-07 22:52, rklew64 wrote:
Thank you for your reply Bob1Dog, being a good sport and humoring me with a quick sample of your repertoire from my asinine questioning.
Well then I would propose you start designing your biz card!

Asinine questioning? Yikes, not a bit! They were all valid questions! And I'll admit to this: What the heck is the DL you asked about... not familiar with the abbreviation, but maybe know the reference... I'll probably feel like an idiot when you tell me, so maybe my business cards can wait a bit after all! I sincerely appreciate your first response! Thanks. Bob

Posted: Dec 8, 2010 12:50am
Ok, Ok, Ok, don't start on the DL thing, someone PMd me with the meaning and I've already been working on it! Thanks! (you know who you are!) I love this place!
What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about? Smile

My neighbor rang my doorbell at 2:30 a.m. this morning, can you believe that, 2:30 a.m.!? Lucky for him I was still up playing my drums.
Cyberqat
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I think in the end it really comes down to what do *you* want to get out of it? It sounds like your happy with the experience and dinner right away. If you ever do want to go pro, I'd also talk to the resteraunteer about writing you a nice letter of reference Smile

But IF you want to go pro, make sure your owner friend understands that your deal with him is special and, while you'd love it if he referred other business to you, you will have to charge them. Make it clear its a "I'm doing this cause I like you and we can scratch each other's back" situation and not your regular way of doing business. Play that right and he will love you even more because you are making him 'special'. Smile
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
Bob1Dog
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Cyberquat, your thinking is pretty much in line with my thoughts as well with the restaurant owner. I still have a problem with the term "going pro," because in my mind I'm simply not there yet. As in previous posts, I think I'll know when I'm there, simply by reaction from spectators. That was very good advice. Thanks all for your thoughts here. And happy holidays to all... Best, Bob

Posted: Dec 8, 2010 12:37pm
Sorry....Cyberqat!
What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about? Smile

My neighbor rang my doorbell at 2:30 a.m. this morning, can you believe that, 2:30 a.m.!? Lucky for him I was still up playing my drums.
Ed_Millis
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"Going pro" as a mindset is - for me, anyway - a big huge wall of fear.
It's easier to take a free show, because if you screw up then nobody loses.
So it's safer.

Now if all you want to do is donate your free time and make folks happy, then go for it!
Find some places that would rarely afford a paying show:
-- Long-term care facilities
-- Shelters for women and children
-- Hospitals
-- And there's more!
Go, knock 'em dead, and have a blast!!
Don't ever worry about charging, and don't look back at whether a "pro" is outside the door.
Anyone who goes "pro" is going to have to deal with that situation; it's part of the landscape.

If, on the other hand, you do someday want to "go pro", then you'll have to get over the "I'm not good enough" fear. Most likely, you _are_ "good enough" at some level - you just need to be honest about what that level is and is not, and charge accordingly. (For instance, I've taught myself to write Visual Basic programs to help out me and my coworkers here at work. To them, I'm a minor diety; but ~I~ know I'm not a *real* programmer, because they are the ones I go to for help!)

I've had the opportunity to see some Big City "pro" magicians working in local venues that I want to get into. Honestly, I'm as good as they are. Well, I am when everything goes smoothly. The biggest difference between me and them was they had a smoothness that came from the confidence that no mistake was fatal. I, on the other hand, fear the hook coming from stage left if I flash a card!

Remember - the customer is not necessarily paying for technical proficiency
They are paying for an entertainer that fits their needs.
Be a magician, not a technician.

When should you go pro?
When you're not afraid of falling off your own pedistal.
Because you will, but it's okay.

How much should you charge?
More than the cost of the gas to get you there,
but less than someone who's smoothed out every wrinkle.

Ed
Bob1Dog
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Hey Ed, thaks for some great, helpful advice there I appreciate that. Your comments give me much to think about with regard to my "pro" mindset. I've gotten some real good stuff from this post. (and I've even added a few more of my own to give my wife more of a reason to throw me out!) Best, Bob
What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about? Smile

My neighbor rang my doorbell at 2:30 a.m. this morning, can you believe that, 2:30 a.m.!? Lucky for him I was still up playing my drums.
scottds80
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Hey Bob,
How are you! I think that charging, even if it's just a bare minimum for your expenses, is a healthy idea. At least cover your fuel and get a contribution on your props. You spent good money on these things.

As you get great reactions & feedback over time, start charging more. This is how I did it.
I started at $30, then $50, then $70, then took a giant leap at $150, now I charge a minimum of $200 for a standard show and this has been over 6 years. For the first time last weekend, I had an audience member contribute $20 out of his own pocket, just because he was so thankful for a great show. This is a confidence booster and helps guide me on my value as an entertainer.

The thing is that when you charge a price on your show, it not only brings in hard earned money, but it raises your value and confidence within yourself. The pressure to exceed expectations starts going up and you begin performing better, because there are higher expectations now. It just lifts your game as a magician as a whole. If you kept working for free, your self value and confidence in yourself will not climb very much. There will always be the attitude that you are allowed to stay "second rate".

Another thing is that people who want decent entertainment WILL PAY for it because they want to. Anything less than that, and they are going to expect a second rate show. By all means, donate your time to worthy charities. But soon you will be getting gigs at private functions and you ought to charge for that.

Good luck!
"Great Scott the Magician", Gippsland
Bob1Dog
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Scott! Hey, thanks for chiming in here......doin' fine and still thanking you for putting me on to that Kovari Pom Pom Stick and the Crystal Milk Pitcher! Both are great and I've got the stick down pat! Once again more good advice here from you. I think I'll find the right path in time. I believe I'm getting good enough, but still need a little more performing experience. Remember, I only have four shows behind me and one was pretty weak. But I hear you. ONe of the reasons I posted in the first place is because a good friend advised not to do too many more for free because it cheapens my worth. Just to be clear, I don't mind performing for free for the learning, and for the charity, but at some point I DO want to make a few bucks at it. So all the advice given here has been a great boost for me in finding my way. Nice hearing from you Scott! Best, Bob
What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about? Smile

My neighbor rang my doorbell at 2:30 a.m. this morning, can you believe that, 2:30 a.m.!? Lucky for him I was still up playing my drums.
rikbrooks
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Ummm, about the tax thing. If they pay you and you give them your paymment as a donation then you can certainly deduct the payment - but you must claim what they paid you as income as well. Since it's a tax deduction and not credit you will come out a little on the losing side.

Basically I keep it clean. I charge for my shows but I volunteer for charities that favor children. I just can't charge them. St Jude hospital and that sort of thing. I can't charge them.
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