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Profile of magicdrums
Hey guys,

I have a question I am 16 years old and a sophmore in high school . I am a working magician in the Kansas City MO area. I am really interested in doing theatre shows around the world for a living . I will be going to college soon .. So here is my question . Is there anything I can do in a college that can help me get up to that level? performing arts? bussiness managment? Theatre managment?. Is it just about being at the right place at the right time? I am performing as much as I can. I am getting my name out there as much as I can. I have a website,twitter, and facebook pages. I am hired to perform at the mid-continent libraries. I do as many shows as I can. I have worked in theatres before and know that stage really well . Ive been getiing payed professionaly for 5 years but I'm not making enough to make a living.

Do you have any advice? On the college thing ? or anything?

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Profile of EsnRedshirt
It's the age old question- how do you make a million dollars doing magic? First, start with two million dollars...

Anyway- Yes, take performing arts and theater. (Scene shop, costuming, dancing and movement, lighting, directing- all will help.) Yes, take business. (You'll need to know how to manage a small business, because that's what you're intending to become.) And, yes, take enough other courses that you have something to fall back on, because as others here will tell you- it's -really- hard work to make money performing.
Self-proclaimed Jack-of-all-trades and google expert*.

* = Take any advice from this person with a grain of salt.
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Profile of Aftereight
First you have to go to a very good acting and directing school,
Second, go to the best Business management school / classes you can get,
Third start learning how theaters are working around the world.
Fourth, learn magic in all segments and be the best in all of them.
And the most important learning of all….. Be the best in marketing.
Even thou I wrote that the marketing skill should be your primary thing, all elements are important. Because if you are bad in magic, marketing wont help you. And if you are good magician and have good marketing but you will have terrible business show plan, you will close soon. All segments of acting and directing will improve your magic skills and create better show…

There is a lot more to learn but you will discover them by yourself…

READ BOOKS and don't watch to many DVD...
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Profile of RSD
You need a good job to finance your magic career. Get a typical job but follow your dreams.
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Profile of Nak

I'm 24, graduated college in 2010 and I thought my experience/position might help you out. In conversations with other performers, I've had a lot of great advice and I've had a lot of performers talk themselves up with huge exaggeration...

In college, I studied chemistry/education. I took one business didn't really help but I definitely should have taken more...learn from my mistakes. Marketing, etc is obviously a huge help. Sometimes more important than the material you learn are the business connections you have for later.

Consider your financial situation carefully. I was lucky to come out of college not in too much debt...after college I taught high school for one year to save some money before I went full-time performing. It's definitely not theater shows all the time yet (they're quite the exception still), but I have recently gotten into the college market, which is a great stepping stone for you to put into your goals. Do NOT try to get into it too soon, however, or you'll be losing sure to have an extremely well constructed show first.

Don't expect to walk right into constant gigs after college, either. Try to set that up for yourself, but be ready to have your work cut out for you. I've had to do many gigs that I never thought I'd do to make it work. During slow months, street performing makes it work for me.

So don't be intimidated, as I have been, when you hear about guys doing 600 shows a year...or making a couple thousand every show...sure there are the well established pros out there, but it's the exception, not the rule!

In closing, do take business classes as much as possible and build connections in college. DO set up yourself for a career that has an income to support yourself as you get off the ground (as much as I'm sure you hate to hear it). Let it be a challenge, not a deterrent! And it is ok to do other work while working on magic...I've felt before like I wasn't "the real thing" if I had other work that wasn't performing, but that was just immature of me.
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Profile of AllAboutMagic
I'd try taking a spelling class....... Smile heaven forbid you have to type your own marketing material.....I kid, I kid.
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Profile of AGMagic
Like any performance art if this is what you really want go for it and don't let anyone talk you out of it. Meet with as many professionals as you can and see if you can get one to mentor you. Advice on the Café is a good place to start but unless you know who is giving the advice...

If I were your age I would try to contact Alex Ramon and tell him what you want to do and ask him for advice. Alex worked for Disney in Mickey's Magic Show for two and a half years then did a two year stint as the first Magic Ringmaster for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He is a well respected, full time, headlining, working professional and he is still in his mid 20's.

As for classes in college they have been stated above, Marketing, Business, Theatre arts, Acting, Lighting, Audio systems and perhaps a class in logistics to get you show from here to there. Some basic Contract Law might also be helpful.

To be clear, these are the courses I would take. I have made my living for 40 years working on the outskirts of show business. I am not, myself, a working professional Magician.

Good luck with your career.
Tim Silver -

I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

Visualize Whirled Peas!
Michael Baker
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Profile of Michael Baker
Some advice that I got a long time ago, which should pertain to most any career... Find those who are doing what you want to do, and learn from them.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
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Inner circle
Los Angeles
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Profile of JamesinLA
I thought he was not asking about making a living so much as specificallly working theater shows. Or did I misread?

Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
Frank Simpson
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Profile of Frank Simpson
Read his third sentence. (Which, if punctuated correctly, would have been his fourth.)

All About Magic may be jesting, but she brings up an extremely valid point. Marketing materials really do need to be written by a professional copy writer, and spelling and grammar are very important.

There are so many magicians who write their own copy, and do so poorly. These are likely to be the same people who would complain about so-and-so's illusion not being built "deceptively". They appreciate the skills of a professional prop builder, but neglect the skills of a professional advertiser.

Posters, brochures, websites, video graphics etc. do reflect on your level of professionalism. I've heard some say that "most people won't know the difference", or worse yet that "they won't care." It's a pity that there are such people. Decision-makers who book shows are often the ones who do care, and one would be wise to have top-notch marketing materials. As for the ones who don't know or don't care, well, they won't notice the good grammar any more than they would notice the bad.

The smartest and highest-paid people working in magic are not the ones who do everything for themselves. They are the ones who hire the best prop designers, costumers, lighting designers, sound engineers, graphic designers, videographers, marketers, and so on. Kudos to the performers who take on these tasks themselves when starting out, but woe to those who fail to recognize that they are really working outside of their areas of expertise as they get farther down the road.
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Profile of Selcouth
You need an understanding of all aspects of performance. Try to learn as much as you can about the jobs of those who work around you so that you know what they can do for you, how they can do it and so that you can talk to them on their level to get what you need.

Never stop learning.

Develop a good act and keep refining it. Never stop practicing.

And yes, learn about marketing and promotion. If you do not understand how important this aspect of the business is, just take a look at this forum. Click on the profiles of forum users who offer links to their websites and sooner of later you will find some whose performances would not look out of place alongside the most famous of illusionists. I believe that there are individuals on these pages who could go much further with better marketing.

You say that you have a website and that you use Twitter and Facebook. For the purposes of marketing, you must consider every single word that you post. Although top performers have a presence through social media, they understand how important it is to maintain an image and their input is often 'assisted' by marketing experts. It is perhaps ironic that many aspects of marketing are themselves a form of illusion.

For the purposes of study, I would suggest that you look at every aspect of performing in as much detail as possible whenever you can. However, because illusion encompasses such a broad range of skills, you will find that just about every subject that is taught in college will be relevant in some way or another.
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Profile of SpellbinderEntertainment
My advice (and I’ve leaned all this the hard way being an actor/director/magician for too many years) the old saying:
“It should be BUSINESS Show, not Show Business.”

--You’re young and curious that’s a great place to be!
--You’’ need a solid product (your persona AND your show) nothing but the best will do.
--You have to realize you are a “service business” not only a performer.
--And once you have your focused quality product, a business plan forecast, and marketing plan... the next ingredient is a passion and drive NOT just for magic but success, hard, hard work.
--Think at least sixty hours a week as you embark on a full-time career.

College is good, no necessary, especially in these times.
Find a good one, and as said above… avoid debt all you can.

Focus about one-third on your theatre classes, and two-thirds on business.
It might sound extreme to your now, but aim for an MBA Degree.
(That’s exactly what I would have done if I’d known, and saved years of doing it the hard way.)

I think one key is to do ANY paying shows you can…
think of the theatre shows as a future goal (maybe a distant long term goal) and do, do, do shows until the are:
A) Frist Class and original
B) As smooth and polished as possible
C) You know for certain what aspect of magic you are best at and want to specialize in.

--And, so sadly in brief, there isn’t even one shortcut. Luck maybe, but no shortcuts.
--Every aspect of your life must be geared to being first-class.. and totally, entirely, committed to whatever is before you to do.

Reading this I think I sound like an old curmudgeon…
but I’ve been both a starving artist and a successful artist, and I suggest getting to the successful part as fast as possible.
That means learning then USING all the tools you can gather.

Oh, and I totally agree with the above: Books, not DVD’s!
jay leslie
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Profile of jay leslie
On 2012-06-02 00:54, Michael Baker wrote:
Some advice I got a long time ago... Find those who are doing what you want, and learn from them.

I second the motion and third it too. If you want to be a pilot, go to flying school. If you want to be a doctor, go to medical school and if you want to argue constantly about the right way to perform your show, keep posting here.
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Profile of magicdrums
Thank you guys so much . sorry that I haven't replied sooner . I haven't been on here for awhile

Thanks for you advice
Jim Snack
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Profile of Jim Snack
Study theater, lighting, sound, acting, voice and movement at college. Take as many performing arts marketing and business courses that you can. Work on your "club act" to polish your solo pieces and make some money while in college. Try producing your first theater show at the college, possibly as an independent study project during your junior year. Get other students to help. Then try to book a mini tour at some small theaters within a drivable distance in your senior year. That could also be an independent study project that you do for credit. I managed to convince my theater department to grant me an independent study minor in the Performance of Magic for my undergraduate degree in theater.

Break a thread...
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
Bill Hegbli
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Fort Wayne, Indiana
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Profile of Bill Hegbli
Actually, college will do you little good, if you intend to be in business for yourself. As a famous person once said, college teaches you how to work for someone else. It gives you a "pigeon hole" they can label you as, in the working world.

The next thing about that old line, something to fall back on, is a lie. Maybe you noticed, but being 16, maybe not, but the world is currently changing at a faster rate then every before in our labor markets. If your college degree is over 10 years old, they will tell you that you don't have "current" knowledge. And if you are a new graduate, they ask, where is your experience.

It really is a "Catch 22" on this education and job thing.

One thing for sure, college does not teach you to be a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates. College teaches you to work for them.

Most of the technical positions today, colleges and technical schools are not even teaching. Most if not all of those jobs are from self taught employees.

Talking from personal experience and paying attention to the world.
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Profile of Zack
One thing for sure, college does not teach you to be a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates. College teaches you to work for them. </i>

Steve Jobs went to Reed. Bill Gates went to Harvard. Yes, they both dropped out, but not before they had got the benefits of a liberal arts education.

DEVRY teaches you to work for them. If they're desparate enought to hire a DeVry graduate.
Michael Baker
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Profile of Michael Baker
I think the point of Jim's post is that one should further their education in the various aspects of their chosen interest. College courses often have these compartmentalized. The basic information can sometimes be found as close as your library, or the college book store. But, sometimes a good professor can be the catalyst that pulls it all together. In this case, someone perhaps with practical experience in the field (could be a professor or simply someone working in the field) can likely offer a varied perspective. Consider them as an additional resource. gathering information from a variety of sources is just a smart move.

If a person is going to end up working for themselves, which most performers do, then a degree is a moot point... but the knowledge is hardly.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
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Profile of JoshLondonMagic
Great stuff here! I have been toying with the idea of a small theater show and was wondering what kind of magic would work best?

I mostly perform at corporate events and birthdays so a family style show would be most logical. But I'm wondering what are some possible routines? I don't think my current vanishing handkerchief would go over well in a 100 seat theater from my kid show.

Also, I don't have big illusions.

I guess I'm wondering if parlor style tricks would work in a small theater?
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Profile of amazingcarrington
Michael Baker's earlier comment is excellent advice. I quote "Find those who are doing what you want to do and learn from them". I advise my own students to do that. Find a mentor. An old term but still very valuable in today's marketplace.

I am a college professor and professional musician in Chicago. Because of my stability in my professional work, I can perform my magic shows without the burden of having to earn a living through them. I explain to my own percussion students at my college the same thing.
When they decide to make it a profession, suddenly the term "Music Business" takes on a different meaning. The word business becomes the bigger of the two words. Insert Magic in place of Music....same thing.

By all means, longevity helps. Those who try to make it in the arts (be it music,magic, dance, etc.) often bail out before giving it a serious go. You have to be willing to piece together a variety of things to pay the rent (and eventually the mortgage). My experience has been that those who hang in there long enough typically will succeed.
You must be disciplined about finances. Budget. Health Insurance. Retirement.....unless you expect to be performing until they carry you out in a body bag. Also....everyone has a "shelf life". Plan for that.
You must also want it very badly. Many of my students at the college claim they want to be professional percussionists (that's my instrument) but when push comes to shove....most don't really put in the work that it takes to succeed in the music business.
I have had several former students go on to be professional musicians. They all shared the same trait. Hard work, perseverance, passion for their craft, discipline, and creativity.
These same attributes apply to the magic business.
You've started off well simply by posing your question in this venue. There are many seasoned veterans here that are willing to share their expertise. I applaud you for that.
There's much more to be said but I'll stop there for now.

Good luck.
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