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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Seed Money - how well does it work? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Special user
Dargaville, New Zealand
929 Posts

Profile of MagiCol
I'm wondering if the use of seed money has been proven to be a consistent help to hatting contributions.

For those not aware of seed money in busking, it's some money [maybe the actual money the performer has gained in previous performance, or just some money out of his wallet] the street performer puts into his hat as he sets up for his day's performance at his pitch. The idea is to put in an amount [individual coin/note value or total value]considered impressive enough to encourage prospective donors to give more, or at least give some, money that they wouldn't otherwise give.
For example, putting some $5 notes into the hat in the hope that people will increase, say, a $3 donation up to $5, thereby the performer getting an extra $2 from that person.
The other idea is that by seeing at least some money in the hat, prospective non-donors will decide instead to give some money after all.

I wonder if seeding really makes much difference. Before fanatic seed-believers rise to defend their view I will say that sometimes I seed my hat and sometimes not. I haven't done a reliable analysis to see if seeding really does work, and I don't intend to.

But I think to myself: Is anybody who has watched a Magic Show or seen a busking guitarist and has brought out money from their pocket to put in the hat going to take the interest and time to look into a hat/bag to see what value the notes in the hat are and, if there are plenty of $10 in there, change their mind and dig in to their pocket again to increase their donation?

I think, on the other hand, that hatting lines, given before or after the finale trick, that give suggestions of how much is expected or hoped for are very likely to get people to give more. But this isn't the thread topic.

Let's share some discussion and opinions, stories and the like.
As for actual factual statistical evidence regarding seeding, I'll be very interested to read it.
The presentation makes the magic.
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Inner circle
1074 Posts

Profile of gallagher
Hi Magicol,
I just read your Post/Question, out load at the breakfast table,..
my wife responded,
"In our Show, we don't 'seed',...,but we sure spread a lot of 'fertilizer' !"
(now you know WHY I don't let her have her OWN profile,...)

we don't seed the basket.
I've heard a lot of theorys,... advocating and justifying the practice,
but none of them ever added up very "honest",
to me.
",.. put paper money in,.. to show 'em what you expect."
",.. if folks see a basket with no money,.. they'll think,.. he's can't be so hot."
",... you got to get things started,.."

We do, basically, a 'trickle' Show,.. with a build-up.
So, our basket is present, from the start.
We start empty.,..
and simply "let it."
For me, I find an honesty in it.
I find a connection with the folks who give,..
an understanding.
Those who 'maybe'. don't give,..
because,.. "the basket is empty,.. he can't be so hot,..".
they're simply missing my Show,..
what I'm about.

It works for us,..
it's saying, what WE want it to say.
,and,.. well,..
it's always had enough 'bread' in it,..
sometimes stale,..
sometimes fresh,..
with caviar,..
but always enough.

back to breaskfast.
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Elite user
413 Posts

Profile of DoctorCognos
I agree that if you properly prepare your audience, with progressive hat lines that don't sound like "GIVE ME MONEY", but are more like gentle expressions of your expectations, you can increase your hat and not need to seed.

My first hat line is an explanation of the "contract" as the show begins; I am going to make you laugh and show you some great magic. Then if you enjoy yourself, you will show your appreciation in applause and additions to my hat.

Later, I remind them later to applaud with their wallets.

I might even mention after a particularly good response to an effect, wow, that certainly was worthy of your applause, wasn't it? In some parts of the world, (pointing to the ground) people get paid for that kind of great magic!

I make a point of getting them to agree with me at multiple points in the show. Then at the end of the show, when I put my hat out, I remind them that they enjoyed the show, and thank them for their generosity!

I am a big believer in the TTT style of presentation (previously was a Seminar Presenter for a large software company).

TTT means;

1. Tell what you are going tell them.
2. Tell them!
3. Tell them what you told them

People don't remember what they hear once, and maybe not even twice. So three times is better. Don't assume that they know what is their responsibility in the "contract". So make sure you tell them in a way that fits your persona.

It is fluid, depending on my crowd and my mood, but it explains our roles and responsibilities and it all works for me.

The Doctor
The Doctor Knows.....
Nick W
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Special user
515 Posts

Profile of Nick W
Depends on the show right? if your doing a circle show or large esque act id say no seed money. but if you have a hat/jar/box/guitar case/ laid out the whole time, id say sure, throw come foldables in.
D. Yoder
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Veteran user
318 Posts

Profile of D. Yoder
-I don't have statistical data to back up what I do.
-I seed the hat for my trickle show - but I do it with mostly copies of money that is glued into the hat or container. It allows me to keep the actual money in the hat at a minimum so that hands aren't coming out of the hat holding more money than they went in with.
-I think that seeing bills in the hat gives the idea that change is less than ideal. However, I'm happy to accept change when it comes from multiple members of the same family, and especially when it comes from kids that I see over and over in my hometown. My thinking is that I'd rather the parents stop with the kids to play with magic instead of passing me by since they see me so often. Those kids are often the hook that draws adults that I don't know.

-In my hometown where I'm doing a lot of repeat customers, I don't use the TTT style. I do try to engage the audience, make a personal connection with them, and build a relationship where we have fun together and the participants want to give me something besides applause. When I'm traveling and/or performing for people who haven't seen me before, then I do use the TTT style since I feel like I need to educate them why I'm there.
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Special user
Dargaville, New Zealand
929 Posts

Profile of MagiCol
Good ideas, fellows. The hatting lines are more important than any seed money.
Fake notes...I once was given a "note" that came from a girlie show where apparently once inside the place you swapped real money for the 'play money' to give to the dancers.
Nick, I loved seeing your double hat for collecting the money. The way you use that is truly the reverse of seeding the hat!
Getting a receipt [Jimmy Talksalot], convincing people they've got a contract, is a great way to go.
The presentation makes the magic.
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Inner circle
New Zealand
1310 Posts

Profile of Yellowcustard
Were I busk in New Zealnd the foot fall can be a bit slow and when people do stop some like to watch a trick and go. So I do a full show with a case open on the floor for a trickle but I also hat line. Seed money helps. When I started I put in 5 dollars made up of 2X 2$ and 1X1$. When I got brave and added a 5$ note things got better I got less silver and more gold coins and a few notes. Also the smallest coin here is the 10 cent coin and it copper. Now one day I got one and left it in and I got lots. But then I kept a eye on it and took them out as I got them. I noticed I had a lot less than before.

Also with hat line I got my routine rolling well. I decide to work on my hat lines. And it made a big diffrance. I got to the point were I could make what I did and a good day on a bad day. One I learnt talking to a NZ magician is New Zealnd dose not have a tipping culture and seeing magician is something a bit different. How ever there is something over here called gold coin donation. So from this I drew up that you need to really educate that they need to pay but as for how much there pretty kind. So I would say get to know your location tipping culture as well.
Enjoy your magic,

and let others enjoy it as well!
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Inner circle
Floating above my
1539 Posts

Profile of Ekuth
I *always* seed. I also use the technique that Yoder describes with fake bills glued to the inside of the basket/bucket.
I don't have tabulated data to present, but I have noticed that I get far better hats with seeding than without. It's a buildup effect.

The gents are also right that hat lines and how you hat bear a direct connection to your draw. I've been testing this at the Renn Faire I'm currently working. Trickles netted me a slow, low hat. Throwing in a hat line now and then doubled it. Hatting before and especially after the final effect tripled it.

Bills are preferred, change is always welcome. Remember, there are $ coins out there.

If it's a child using their own change, I always smile and tell them to put it in their piggy bank or save for a book on magic.

My 2c.
"All you need is in Fitzkee."
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New user
9 Posts

Profile of magicjoe22
I always seed my bucket and always have my money bucket out at all times. I know other performers that just use hat lines at the end of their show and then pass hat for tips/donations. I have noticed by having my tip bucket out during my show if someone can't stay for the entire show but enjoyed what they did see they usually put something in my bucket before they leave?
Joe Castricone
Nate The Magician
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Regular user
159 Posts

Profile of Nate The Magician
I'll definitely say that it makes a difference- when people see paper then they are more likely to take you seriously and stay a while.Now, does how much the bill is worth matter? It's dubious. I have yet to see someone drop in more than ten at a time, no matter how large a bill they see.
KC Cameron
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Inner circle
Raleigh, North Carolina
1885 Posts

Profile of KC Cameron
I have always seeded. In my area, busking is fairly new, and I think seeing the money in the hat reminds the crowd that I have 13 children and a sick aunt I need to feed. Smile It also helps answer the question "How much should I tip?".
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