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Profile of scottr
Hey Fellas,

This is actuallly something I posted in thread to my question about promo kits.

I thought it might have gotten a bit burried there, so I reposted it here under its own heading with the hopes I might receive more replies.

Thanks guys for sharing!


"Curious, have any of you had any luck going direct without an agent?

I've exchange e-mail with a handful of performs who do use agents, but said if they had it to do over again, they would try going direct.

Any thoughts? Anyone ever make the direct route work for them?"
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Eternal Order
Philadelphia, PA
15111 Posts

Profile of magic4u02
I have used agents as well as handling my own marketing and booking myself. An agent works ok as long as your he/she understands you and is really working for you and not hindering you.

I have just found out that often times, it is just better for me to find the work and gigs myself in my own marketing and booking system. Now this is a bit easier for me since I do not do the magic full time, and I have the time to devote to the business end of magic.

If your a full time performer, then your time is probably better spent out doing the shows and allowing the business end to be handled by an agent or a manager type. That is something you have to figure out for yourself in terms of how much time you can devote to marketing etc.

For me and my weekend magic shows for fairs, carnivals etc., it is just easier for me to do it myself. No one knows my show and my performance better then me and no one can sell the benefits of this show better then I can. I just try to allow myself a few days each week to make the calls, send out the promo packets and keep my files organized.

It does take a lot of time and devotion to doing it and maintaining the system, but for me, it has been well worth the effort.
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Neale Bacon
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Burnaby BC Canada
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Profile of Neale Bacon
I agree! In the past I have had nothing but trouble working through agents. I book myself because I know me best, and I know which of my shows is best suited to the clients needs.
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King Of Pop
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Profile of King Of Pop
I never use agent. I always represent myself. Actually now when I go on tour abroad I use agent who arranges all nessesary things, but never in my home country.


Also I think that you know magic better than any agent so it's easier to book yourself. Of course if you don't have agent who was also magician before...
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Jim Snack
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Profile of Jim Snack
There are agents...and there are agents.

A guy who books bands and gets an occasional call for a variety performer, even though he calls himself an agent, is not going to keep you busy. You will still have to promote yourself to the "economic buyer," that is the person signing the check.

An agency that has a client list that can keep you busy, on the other hand, is not really interested in you until you have enough name recognition that their clients specifically ask for you by name, or they have so much confidence in your ability that they recommend you to their clients who may have never heard of you. In addition, your fee has to be high enough to earn the agency a decent commission.

It can take years to develop that kind of relationship with an agency. You still need to promote yourself, to both the agencies AND to the economic buyer.

It is a partnerhip you have to work at - just like a marriage. And it can take a great deal of energy, as much as promoting yourself directly to clients.

Another consideration concerns the complexity of your show. If you have a fairly simple club act, easy to manage and travel with, there is no reason why you can't be handling bookings yourself. If you have a more technically complex illusion show that requires more hands-on management, it would be a good idea to delegate other parts of the business, particularly the front office, since your focus should be on keeping the show sharp.

Are agents necessary? Yes...and no. Ask the following questions: Can performers exist without agents? Yes. Can agents, however, exist without performers? No.

My recommendation is to learn how to market yourself. After you have enough experience, then seek out partnership relationships with a few agents who have decent client lists.

But never put all your eggs in one basket. I strive to maintain a healthy balance between direct booking shows and working with agents.

Ultimately, however, you are responsible for keeping your date book filled. You can't abdicate that responsibility and hope to survive in this business. Not only does it take talent to succeed, but also a healthy dose of bsuiness acumen.
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
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Profile of scottr

In all my years reading posts here online, this one of yours ranks among the most informative I've ever come across.

Great, great information. Thank you for taking the time to share.

Jim Snack
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Profile of Jim Snack
Thanks for the kind words, Scott. If I can help a few beginners avoid some of the difficulties and challenges of working professionally, great. We all benefit when newcomers enter the market prepared.

I think beginners have many misconceptions about agents. I've worked with good agents and bad ones. I've given my business completely over to a "booking manager" and watched bookings drop 25% in six months AND paid her 15% of the gross (that was a lean Christmas for my family)! Too bad we can't sell or experience for what it cost us.

Anyone who runs their own business can tell you that no one cares as much about your business, or will work as hard, as you do.
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
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Profile of Chrystal

I agree with you Scott! Excellent advice on this forum given by Jim and the others. Posting your experiences, you do help us all by contributing and sharing.

Greg Owen
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Profile of Greg Owen
A friend of mine is a favorite with our agent—she books over 200 shows a year for him! He doesn't have to do ANY marketing, just goes from gig to gig spending all of his time earning.

He's very versatile so can be marketed for most any type of gig.

I'm just starting to get more work from this agent—we'll see. Also, I'm not as talented as this other guy (he's unbelievable) and I'm a part-timer, but we'll see.

- Greg Owen
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Profile of ufo
Yes, very good advice. Please remember that not all agents are created equal. Some have a real interest in who you are and will look and work long term for the betterment of your mutual goals....but most fall into the catagory mentioned of a person sending out bands to clubs and such with an occasional request for a variety act.

Not only do these "entertainment caterers" not have a genuine understanding of you and your craft, but will likely make quite a bit more on the gig than you will ever know about.

A good agent gets a fair fee off the top for services rendered...10-15%. A bad agent has sold an event entertainment for 10K and tells you they are paying 2K. Shady. But there are good agents and lovely, wonderful people out there who can make a world of difference for you.
"What's your drug?" she asked. "Hope" he said, "The most addicting one of all."
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Profile of Allan
I had nothing but trouble with agents. The average agent wanted to make more on the gig than I was going to earn. I had to put a stop to it. To do this, I made a decision. I stopped working for agents. Yes, I STOPPED working for agents. I decided that the only person that could help me succeed was me. It was a very lean year but slowly but surely I built up my own business & have never looked back. I am over 95% self booked. Now, the only time I work for a agent is when they solicit my talents for one of their clients. I get the price I ask for because I am both good at what I do & they know I won't take less than I ask for.

Was it easy? No it was not. But it was the best decision I ever made in this business. It is not for everone. I knew I could handle the business end. If you use this as a guide, make sure you can handle both the business & the performance end.
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Profile of BlackSalt
In my most humble opinion …

An entertainer must learn to network, network, network. Unfortunately, that includes getting to know and be known by agents.

There is no need to view agents with hostility. It’s just business. Make a few good business decision about who you want to deal with.

Validate an agent’s credibility. Ask how they handle the client’s deposits. A good agent (one who realizes that he has two customers; the buyer and you - the act) will agree to run the money through you. The deposit should be written to you. The final payment must be issued to you. The agent should invoice you for his/her fee after completion of the engagement.

Beware the agent who collects the deposit or worse; the entire fee and then pays you. Once again, he works for you … not the other way around.

Management gets 25% - 30%. An agent should consider themselves lucky to receive as much as 15% for taking a call.

On the other hand, when you have an agent who is a great closer, who understands your act, who genuinely likes you and is actively pursuing gigs for you (and incurring expenses along the way) you may want to negotiate bonuses with them as these are a rare breed and worth every penny.

Every sales and marketing course stresses the importance of building relationships. Spend some time and effort in building strong relationships with reputable agents and you will see benefits.

Best regards,
Michael BlackSalt
A Vacation For The Mind!
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