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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Busking Season - Busking Festivals (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Magician Shaun
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Huntington BCH, CA
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Hey Everyone! I have been away for a while. I was in China visiting my wife's side of the family and having our wedding reception a few years later. It was a lot of fun. I will make another thread about buskers and beggars in China. The Spring festival season is about to start and that means preparing for the best busking days of the year. I am going to tell you guys what I am doing to prepare and hopefully it will help some of you out.

For festivals, I started last year building the foundation for this year. I searched the internet for festivals in my area, read about them and their attendance, and decided which ones to approach. I emailed or called the contact people listed. Basically I was just trying to get permission to busk the festivals. I went about it by explaining that I was a local magician, street performer, and festival entertainer. I then told them that my typical arrangement with festival organizers was that I work the whole festival from open to close and work for tips only. This is beneficial to them because they get entertainment for the entire festival and it costs them nothing. I explained that I do a 15-20 minute show 3 times an hour. I also emphasize that I do not want to be in the kids area. Most organizers will give me several choices of where to set up as long as I don't impede festival traffic. Sometimes I can just pick a spot. Some organizers do a lot of festivals. One of them does 12 festivals and I am invited to all of them. I also point them to my professional Facebook page for my magician personality.

If you don't have any or little experience and don't have a Facebook page then what you need to do is make a Facebook page and then make a fan page for your magician personality. Put pictures of you performing on the street up there. Make posts every day about performing and get people to like you. Then when you point people to the page it will look like you have at least some experience. If you have never done a festival don't ever say that. You should still say that your "typical arrangement is" whatever you want it to be. Remember that festivals usually pay musicians anywhere from $400-$5000 for a 90 minute set depending on their popularity and the size of the festival. When you tell them that they are getting non-stop entertainment for the entire event and it doesn't cost them anything they are are going to be happy to have you. With all of this in mind, once you have a bit of a performing resume, so to speak, you can start asking for a daily stipend from the festival for food and gas. A Per Diem. You need a little bit of proof of your abilities to get this but as long as you have some festivals under your belt, especially if the organizers make positive comments on your Facebook page about your performances, you will get it as well. I would recommend asking for $25 to $50 per day. This will help out a lot when you get rained out after driving to festival or have a slack attendance.

You have to explain to the festival crowd that you are not paid to be there. You work for tips. Otherwise they will think you are getting paid. If they think you are getting paid then the hats will be smaller. Don't be overly aggressive but hat them with the standard 3-4 times. Start off by telling them that you don't get paid. Then try to get a receipt. What I mean by this is that you need to get an admission of value from the spectators. You need to get them to say that they are having a good time. This is more important than you can imagine. This is true every time you busk, not just at festivals. Finally, you need to tell them how much money you expect. In your final lines you need to suggest big bills, $20's, $10's, and $5's. You can do this however you like but make it somewhat serious. Don't make too light of it or it won't sink in. People will pay you what you tell them you are worth. If you don't tell them anything they will give you one's and change consistently. If you tell them you are worth 5's and 10's you will get 5's and 10's and bundles of ones and rarely if ever will you get change.

You guys have to remember that at festivals people are more invested than on the street. It is much easier to build crowds at festivals. If you regularly work the streets you will find that the same techniques you use on the street work about 5x better at festivals. Your crowds build faster and bigger. Often I find that I don't much of a break at festivals because the crowds are so big that the people at the back couldn't see and stay to watch another show. This makes it easy for you to start the next show. Don't let this make you complacent.

If anyone who has more experience than I sees something that I missed then feel free to add it. Also if you have some counter points to what I said then you can also add those. I hope this helps some people out. Festivals are great, lots of fun, and you get tons of exposure. Don't forget to get business cards and hand them out to people, you will get private show bookings. Be sure to look at gigmasters to see what kind of money other magicians are charging in your area. You don't want to get paid less than others. If people are asking you they either have or will look at sites like gigmasters. If you are too cheap they will think that you are not good. Remember a lot of people believe the old adage that "you get what you pay for." If you are too cheap then they will believe that there is a reason and it will decrease your odds of getting the job.

I hope this helps, good luck out there and FAT HATS!
G.Gilbert
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baltimore
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Good post,.. To add to it, On the sidewalkperformers forum, I made a detailed post about how to find, crash, and get booked at festivals by crashing them.
Magician Shaun
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Huntington BCH, CA
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I have found in Atlanta, that most of the big festivals with large attendance have lots of Atlanta Police Officers working them. Crashing them typically results in you getting escorted out by the police. Most of the festivals will give you permission if you simply ask. I have found with it being so easy to get permission to busk the festivals that there is no need to risk crashing them.

I also advise that you bring business cards and hand them out to adults that seem to have a good time and interested. I have gotten several gig offers from this. Make sure your price is competitive with other magicians in your area by checking gig masters. They will have seen you and know if they like you or not so getting your price is that much easier.

So far, I have been invited back to every single festival I have worked. I have thought about crashing a festival before but it is just so easy to get permission that there really is no need. I would guess has something to do with all of the budget cuts I have heard about. Getting a bunch of free entertainment sounds great to an organizer when he already has a limited entertainment budget.
imgic
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Great posts! Great insight into festivals. Had never considered working them but may have to check them out this year.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
ed rhodes
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Quote:
On 2013-01-26 17:05, G.Gilbert wrote:
Good post,.. To add to it, On the sidewalkperformers forum, I made a detailed post about how to find, crash, and get booked at festivals by crashing them.


Robert Heinlein has a character in the book "Have Spacesuit Will Travel" entering a contest with jingles written on soap wrappers.
He notices in the rules that the jingles have to be on the wrappers; "or their equivalents." He asks his father if he could photocopy one wrapper and make all the "equivalents" he needed.
His father thinks for a second and responds; "Well, it's legal son. But I've never known an ant to be welcome at a picnic."

That line comes to me whenever I hear about someone bragging about crashing someone else's function.
"He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." - Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche
imgic
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Also great tip on Facebook. Checked out your page and "Liked" it. Looking forward to seeing more pictures and updates.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
Magician Shaun
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Ed,

I think a lot of buskers start to get this sense of entitlement. The fact that we often get harassed by authorities while exercising our 1st amendment rights and trying to make a living may sometimes make us forget that we don't have those same rights at private events or on private property. If someone rents a park for an event it is private for the time slot. You don't have some right to go in there and just do whatever you want.

Most events will give you permission if they believe that you are halfway decent. I have seen paid acts at some events that didn't get half the audience responses that I do and I didn't cost the festival anything or very little. If the guy with the juggling string thing can get a 30 minute set and get paid then you any decent street performer should be able to get a spot to busk at any festival.
gallagher
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,don't want to split hairs here; but, is playing festivals "Busking"? ,i've played many of the magor festivals, here in Europe, "Busker Festivals"; was always amazed by the performers (many, really excellent!), whom I've never seen before on any Street corner. in ALL honesty, it always hurt me a bit.

on a day like today, I just played three different pitches. shoo-ed off five beggars,...in three languages; had motor scooters racing thru one show. in my last show, had a man from his third story balcony threaten me with water,... right after I turned a crowd.,...

I really respect out-door entertainers. I've been entertained by most. but, it honestly hurts sharing my professional title with them. I,...i, really do consider them two different loafs of bread.

respectfully,
gallagher hayes,....busker. street performer. artist de l'rue. strassenkuenstler.
ed rhodes
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While they don't have the... obstacles you've mentioned. I think festival players consider that if they are playing for tips, they are busking.
"He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." - Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche
imgic
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Quote:
On 2013-01-31 14:57, gallagher wrote:

I really respect out-door entertainers. I've been entertained by most. but, it honestly hurts sharing my professional title with them. I,...i, really do consider them two different loafs of bread.

respectfully,
gallagher hayes,....busker. street performer. artist de l'rue. strassenkuenstler.


You've got four titles and you're hurt by sharing one?
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
bropaul
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Florida
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Quote:
On 2013-01-26 17:05, G.Gilbert wrote:
Good post,.. To add to it, On the sidewalkperformers forum, I made a detailed post about how to find, crash, and get booked at festivals by crashing them.


Nice. Could you post a link so this 'ol street guy can get there without stumbling? Thanks.
Bro. Paul West

www.BrotherPaulMagic.com
gallagher
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Quote:
On 2013-02-01 17:26, imgic wrote:
Quote:
On 2013-01-31 14:57, gallagher wrote:

I really respect out-door entertainers. I've been entertained by most. but, it honestly hurts sharing my professional title with them. I,...i, really do consider them two different loafs of bread.

respectfully,
gallagher hayes,....busker. street performer. artist de l'rue. strassenkuenstler.


You've got four titles and you're hurt by sharing one?


I guess I'm just a little sensitive,...
gallagher.
Magician Shaun
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Huntington BCH, CA
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If I work for tips, with no pay from anyone but the people that I entertain and think that the show I performed is worth something then I think that is busking. If I am getting paid and I can also accept tips that isn't busking. Waitresses don't busk. I agree that festivals are easier that the street but if you are working without promise of income then it is busking by definition, no?
gallagher
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Yes.

I think that's a pretty good definition.


(i think I just had a bad day, last Saturday. The world looks better today,.. I slept a little longer.)

I wish you a good Season.

gallagher.
Magician Shaun
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Huntington BCH, CA
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Gallagher,

You are truly a Street Performing, Busking legend! I meant no disrespect with my retort, I was only clarifying how I defined busking. I totally agree with you that if you get a paycheck or cash from the festival and get tips that doesn't qualify as busking. Glad you are feeling better! I wish you a great season and FAT HATS as well!
G.Gilbert
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baltimore
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Bro Paul,
sure, I will PM you ... Btw it was very nice meeting you, and spending time on your boat last year with nick and Jen. Thank you for sharing your magic!! It was a blast.
augiemagic
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Overland Park, KS
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So I stumbled on this thread again last week, and decided to give it a go.

I now have 2 festivals over the next 2 weeks that will be having me busk.
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