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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Finger/stage manipulation » » The length of a manipulation act (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

bremenkid
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Hi,

When I look magicians performing on stage, their manipulations acts are always about 6~8 minutes.

I mean, I have never seen an act which is shorter or longer than that. Some people cut their acts when they're performing as a part of another show, (say "XXX got talent" shows etc), but their full acts are always 6 to 8 minutes.

Does this have a reason? Is 6~8 minutes the time which the spectators can concentrate the most?

Also, I've got another question.

I have never been on a stage for magic, and I got curious about this one.

When people perform with a background music that is not royalty free, do they have to make a contract with the musician? Do that apply to only "big" shows or does that apply as well to small shows like a talent show in a school?

It would be always the best to make a contract with the musician, but is that a MUST even if it is a small show like a talent show in a school where there are only about 1~200 people?

Thanks.
Bill Hegbli
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Most acts you see are 8 minutes because that is the time limit for most magic contests. A performer should should design a 20 minute act, sort of like modular building. Then for longer shows, you should have some feature routines or tricks to insert in the middle of your standard 20 minute act.

There is a difference between an Act and a Show.

This is the advice given by Mr.Electric (Marvin Roy) on how to be ready for all potential bookings.

The music question has been discussed extensively, and everyone has their own opinion, you can search for those discussions. To boil down the answer is goes something like this. For a school maybe, yes, you would have to pay royalty fees to the Music Association. Places that already play copyrighted music, you would not, the establishment would pay those fees. Again this depends on how "private" the event you are performing is. There is a fee usually for playing music to the general public. You do not contact the musician, but the music association that collects fees for music artist. There is music that the copyright has expired on, and this can be used, or there are some non-copyrighted music available on the market and the Internet.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
Anatole
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I think most silent manipulation acts are under 10 minutes because longer manipulation acts tend to get repetitive or boring or both. Here are two of the best manipulation acts of the second half of the 20th century:

Channing Pollock's dove/card manipulation act--just about seven minutes long.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3fN_xKW5c0

Johnny Hart's manipulation act at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tnlopTpbF8
is under seven minutes and includes the production of two dogs in a cage.

I think part of the rationale for a short silent act is also the limited attention span that audiences have for a non-talk act.

One of the reasons that contests like the IBM Gold Medal competition limit acts to 8 minutes or so is that if (as is often the case) there are 20-30 contestants, then it would make for a very long contest for the judges and the audience to sit through.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
Anatole
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Here's one of the guidelines for the FISM competition that relates directly to the length of a contest magic act:
"At the front of the stage will be two electric lamps, one yellow and one red. After nine minutes of a performance, the yellow lamp will be switched on. After the tenth minute, the red lamp will be switched on, showing the contestant that he or she is over time and therefore disqualified. A contestant will also be disqualified in case of a flashing red lamp (see Article 7e)"

You can see more complete info about the FISM rules/time requirements at:
http://www.fism.org/web/rules.pdf

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
bremenkid
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Thank you guys so much for your posts!

Bill Hegbli, I searched about the music thing, and have decided to use royalty free musics.
However, I didn't understand this part quite clearly: Do I have NO NEED at all to pay or make a contract or whatsoever if I am using royalty free musics?

Thank you again
Michael Baker
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Rights to royalty free music will vary. Some require a one time payment, but you may find some out there for the taking. Read any agreements carefully, so you'll understand if there are limitations to usage.

Regarding length of the act, Mr. Narvaez is spot on with his rationale. If you listen to the average piece of music that gets radio play, most every song is between 2-4 minutes. Connecting several pieces of music together would require similar changes within the act, and in most cases that would mean a very carefully crafted change of mode, as opposed to say, moving from cards to balls. Such simplistic changes would hardly be enough to merit the audience's acceptance of variety, at least for very long. You might get away with pushing this up to 7 or 8 minutes, although very few acts remain good even at that length, but it would take the genius of Tchaikovsky to build a piece that was longer. It's the perfect illustration of why less is more.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
Bill Hegbli
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It has been my experience and I would say many of those that go to magic conventions, that a contestant participant will generally be asked to appear on the next evenings show or even the next years general stage shows. At that time, every returning contestant performs a 20 minute act. True I only attended about 20 or 30 conventions in my life, but that has been what I noted was the case.

Royalty Free generally means you do not pay a fee to play it in public. BUT - As Michael Baker pointed out, it depends on how you gain access to it. If you get a CD, then you have to buy the CD. If you get it off the Internet at the 2 previously mentioned royalty free web sites in another discussion on the Café, then you have to buy a computer, have a web connection, upload the music, have blank disk or device to move it the performing area. In most cases, you will need to edit it to fit your taste and time restrictions. So free is kind of thrown around loosely here. But no, you will not have to pay anyone to play it in public.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
bremenkid
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Thank you so much!

This helped me a lot.
bremenkid
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Oh, I have one more question.
If the song I would like to use happens to be a classic music, how does it work? Should I still be paying somewhere? If so, where? I live in Germany.

Thank you
bremenkid
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Okay, I got it.

Musicians lifetime + 75 years and I'm safe.
Bill Hegbli
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One gage you can use, if you get hired at a public place like a bar or pub, and they are playing current music, then the business bar or pub is already paying the fees to play current music to the Music Association.

To take your example, if you go on television talent show, then the show that is playing the music pays the fee or they cannot play it. Now the show may ask for reimbursement from you, that all depends on how they do business.

The difference is if you are performing at a theater, and you rent the theater to present you magic show. Then you would most likely have to arrange payment.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
Anatole
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Bremenkid asked:" If the song I would like to use happens to be a classic music, how does it work? Should I still be paying somewhere? If so, where? I live in Germany."

As I understand royalties, even if the music is in the public domain (e.g. anything by Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, etc), the arrangement/recording you find on an LP/CD is likely _not_ in the public domain because the arranger, conductor, and the musicians are entitled to royalties for their work. As to "where" you pay the royalty, if you look on the CD case where the songs are listed, they might indicate after each piece of music either BMI or ASCAP, which is where you might go to inquire about payment for the use of the music. (There may be other royalty associations in other countries.)

You might want to take a look at this CD:
http://www.amazon.com/Music-Magicians-Ve......cians%22
The music was specifically created to provide magicians with music that they could use in their acts.

The school system that I worked for in the DC/Maryland area also had a library of royalty free music that was very good--all original compositions that were presented at varying lengths: 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 3 minutes, etc so that it could be fine-tuned to just about any situation. I used music from that library for some video programs that I produced for the school with the kids, including some magic spots for their closed-circuit TV broadcasts. The school system was especially strict about the use of recorded music in the schools because, being in the Metro DC area, they would have been a prime target for a copyright suit if they infringed on anyone's intellectual property. My students sometimes produced a TV program or multimedia slide show that used music for their entries in a county-wide media festival.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
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