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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Parlor show bookings, advice wanted (10 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Nathan Alexander
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I don't perform professionally much anymore (and only did part-time). I want to get back into it, but I'm looking for advice about performing more private show events. I've done schools, libraries, private parties and so on.

It's the small private parties (perhaps in their home, for a 50th, or a small private room, etc.) that I want to start doing if I can find interest. That's part of my question. Years ago I had a few shows for "wealthier" crowds at their homes where I entertained in their living room. It went over very well, but I never had more than that. Is this a feasible market I can approach?

I'm not looking for full-time work, just something where I can perform more intimately and possibly be seated or stand-up. (I'd have to re-asses my set list for either.) I'm looking for any help with regards to, is this a market that is fairly reachable? With the other shows, I mailed out and relied on repeats and referrals. Essentially, I'm starting over from scratch.

Are there experienced folks who have written about this?

I'm looking for shortcuts, tips and experience in planning, good show lengths, (relative) pricing, finding work (do I go with an agent?) and anything I may be missing. This is a tall order, but I'm relatively smart and can figure thing out. I'm experienced in performing, entertaining and working shows.

I just want to change what I used to do to more of what I'd like to do. If that's possible. The good thing is this would be to supplement my main income, not replace it, so a few shows a year is just fine. More is icing on the cake. I'd make a site dedicated to my agenda and brand things as such to streamline it. If there's a chance to book work at all, unconventionally vs "we had this guy at our corporate event, we should have him for Sarah's party..." blah blah blah.

Thoughts? Resources?
danfreed
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Start with a good website that clearly explains what you do, with pro quality photo and video, using good search engine optimization (SEO). Get your free listing on Google Local (or whatever they call it now) and place lots of good info and photos in that also. Some people do well with social media also, though I don't do much with that. Find local agents. Maybe try a free or paid listing on Gigsalad and/or thebash.com. A lot of people hate those gigsalad sites, I had good luck, but now I just do a free listing on salad. Some people say you just get cheapo's and price shoppers on those sites, but that hasn't been my experience, though I'm not expensive anyway. Other magicians may send people your way when they aren't available, if they feel like you will do the same for them.
Dannydoyle
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The crowd you are looking for doesn't use Google to get entertainers. SEO is almost pointless. They do not go to Gigsalad and free listings won't help a bit.

Shortcuts don't exist for this market. Reputation is what sells it and without one it is not something you can tap into regularly. It will take years to even develop a foothold. I will tell you that schools and libraries are not going to help book this stuff.

It is often good to hear what won't help before setting out doing what you think will help. If you only want a few shows a year you are in the right track.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Mindpro
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Quote:
On Jul 10, 2021, Dannydoyle wrote:
Shortcuts don't exist for this market.


In reality, this is not even a market. I work with a student who we have worked hard for him to dominate the private in-home party scene in his area and it wasn't easy because it really isn't a market and unless you are performing regularly to keep the word of mouth going, getting greater exposure, and generating referrals and gaining continuous momentum, it will be quite hard for you to get any more than only an occasional interest or lucky booking. Especially if you are positioning yourself as a closeup magician.
Mindpro
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Also your website isn't doing you any favors either towards this.
Nathan Alexander
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Kinda what I thought, guys. Thank you for all your thoughts.
danfreed
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I disagree with the idea that people don't use Google and Gigsalad type sites for entertainers, that is not correct. They use Google for everything, doctors, mechanics, you name it. That incudes corporate stuff and house parties. People also ask around, do you know a good magician, good dentist, but Google and good reviews online are very important, plus even if someone reccomends you they will often look at your website, and reviews online, and still may search around for other magicians anyway. And if the magician that someone reccomends isn't available or whatever, then they are back to square one. And the magician for home parties thing for adults is a market, not a big one, but when I was an agent, I booked magicians on a regular basis for home parties (adult bdays, retirements, etc). And of course if you want to do kids parties, well, there is a ton of that available.
Al Kazam the Magic Man
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Here is Australia, Google is the main way that people search for entertainment in all forms. Quite often I'm told that I was searching in Google and you came up first, so I called you.
Of course after being in the same market for 16 years now, I've also got good word of mouth, and many repeat bookers. Google is just one of the ways that brings in shows, but as many others here much smarter than me knows there are other things at play. I should clarify that I'm predominately a kids birthday party performer, schools show performer, childcare centre performer and not a corporate, wedding, high end event entertainer.
Al Kazam --> Magic guy in Perth Australia
Dannydoyle
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The people he is specifically looking for absolutely do not use Google or Gigsalad to find entertainers.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
danfreed
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Danny, I really wonder how you came to that conclusion, but I assure you, in the US that is not the case. I don't mean people don't ask for referals or see a magician somewhere and get his card, but there is a lot of well paying work that will come from Google/website/local google listing, and other internet sources. That's how things work nowadays. I don't have stats, but my guess is the amount of adult house party gigs booked via internet searches far outweighs referals, etc - and they aren't all just cheapos looking for a deal. In any case, a good website costs roughly 10 or 20 a month, and you can build it yourself and do your own SEO and local free Google listing, and gigsalad will give you a free listing. Most people should hire a good web guy to build their site, but you can make a good one yourself. There are other free online sites that can get you occasional leads also. Social media may work well also, though I haven't done much with that so I can't speak to that really.
Dannydoyle
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I have worked ONLY in this market for the past 25 years. How did YOU come to YOUR conclusion exactly?

He is talking about a different level of folks than use Gigsalad.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Mindpro
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Quote:
On Jul 12, 2021, danfreed wrote:
And the magician for home parties thing for adults is a market, not a big one, but when I was an agent, I booked magicians on a regular basis for home parties (adult bdays, retirements, etc).


Sorry Dan, respectfully I disagree with you. A performance market is defined by if it has a legitimate group, association, or specified resources or operatives that governs, represents or serves the market. The school market has such associations and governing groups, as does the college market, fair market, festival market, theater market, cruise industry, corporate market, trade show market, and so on. Home parties do not.

As an agent and agency owner, yes, we do book home party events. As I mentioned above one of my coaching clients has actually positioned himself serving this specialty area which was a bit difficult again, because it is not really a market with such market support.

Also, it is worth noting that home parties are part of the consumer market (vs. professional market) which means most seeking such entertainment use general or consumer-level mindsets, mentalities, and (uneducated) approaches to seeking vendors including entertainment. This would be why they may turn to Google or GM/GS as well, which primarily serves and is designed for consumer market business.

Google today is just what the Yellow Pages used to be. It is the layman's quick and general point of reference. These are not professional or even recurring planners, and simply are going to the most generic and common (again uneducated) way of seeking or shopping. This is why many also shop based on price as it this the general layman's way of shopping, just as they would for tires, appliances, or towels.

Other performance specialty areas that are not truly markets include campgrounds, churches, retirements, anniversaries, block parties, scouts, funerals, grocery store openings, car shows, and so on. Yes, they can be events for bookings but by industry standards they are not true performance markets.
Mindpro
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Quote:
On Jul 12, 2021, danfreed wrote:
...there is a lot of well paying work that will come from Google/website/local google listing, and other internet sources. That's how things work nowadays.


This is ONE WAY things can be done these days. It is very short-sided to think "this is how business is done these days." It's not. Perhaps for you and maybe the consumer markets you serve or work, but there are also many of us who do not and would never use such means as they are not prudent to the performance markets which we serve.

I personally have worked 42-43 weeks a year on the road each year for decades now and do not use or rely on Google, website SEO, and/or GM or GS at all. It does not align with my performance markets or business model.

The problem I see over and over again is the business approach many use when beginning in magic (what I call the Default Business Model) they never move on or advance from, which is why they remain stuck in the consumer-level, layman's mentalities and feel they can only relay on Google, SEO, websites, etc.
danfreed
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When I had an entertainment agency for 10 years (ending in 2005), I got most of my initial business from yellow pages ads and then later also internet. I was booking a ton of corporate work for most of the biggest corporations and organizations in town, sometimes thousands of dollars at a time. They booked magicians, jugglers, moonbounces, bands, you name it, sometimes 10 or 15 people for 1 event. Then they tended to keep booking through me after that. My competitors also did the same type of thing and got the same type of clients, in addtion to regular private clients booking birtydays and weddings, etc. They were HR people more often than not at the big and medium size companies and organizations (the zoo, local govt, etc). Some markets are very specialized and take a very specialized approach to getting the work, like the fair circuit for example.
However, Nathan asked about doing house parties. Some people get most of their work doing repeat and referal stuff, that's great, it takes effort to maintain that and not everyone can pull that off anyway. And getting most work via repeat and referal doesn't mean you are getting enough work. Realisticaly, most people get a lot of their (non-highly specialized) work from new clients that found them online. Nathan's best bet is most likely to start with what I suggested (and maybe other stuff also), and later if he can do mostly repeat and referal, etc, then great.
Dannydoyle
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So your information is from 1995 until 2005. Fantastic.


You keep o leaving out the key thing he is looking for. "Wealthier" crowds he entertained in their homes.

I ask again how many of those types of shows you have done and for those clients?

Again for me it is the only work I have done except comedy clubs. For the past couple decades it is who I work for and work a lot for. These folks do NOT generally use Google or Gigsalad for this type of booking. The zoo or local government has nothing to do with this level of performance. They don't even book their kids birthday parties through those methods generally.

The proof in the difference is you saying they will spend thousands and have lots of entertainers. I'm talking about one magician getting thousands. Huge difference.

If he starts with your method he will be stuck there. It is that simple. It is absolutely not how you get to that level of performance.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Nathan Alexander
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I think I'm out of my league. I got lucky, as before, all that kind of work grew naturally out of the work I already did. Since I don't perform anymore, I was hoping for "real" magic (ha) and praying there might be a secret I didn't know. Nah... Hard work and time either way. I honestly wouldn't expect much else.

That being said, if anyone is part of a secret cabal where you join then get all these shows just because, please let me in.
TomBoleware
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Nathan, Why can't you just advertise your show. You can always pick what you want and leave or refer the rest.
You’re not obligated to take every request you get from your advertising.

Tom
Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true.--Robert Brault

Tom Boleware
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Dannydoyle
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Because YOU DON'T ADVERTISE for this type of show.

Also the real disqualifying factors nobody is talking about are he doesn't perform much and wants to get back in at a very high level, doesn't want to put in much heavy lifting and wants shows to just appear.

He is right. Out of his current league. Maybe he could build up to it, but currently no chance.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
danfreed
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Danny, he is just sort of starting out, and he didn't say he wanted to just perform for millionaires, just people who are weathier, and just part-time. Should he contact millionaires right off the bat? I was talking about corporate work because Mindpro brought it up. But as far as house parties, most magicians are not working for thousands per gig doing house parties for millionaires, they are doing house parties locally for say in the ballpark of $300-$1000 per gig, that's the bread and butter for most guys doing that. You can specialize in doing high end gigs if you are ready, but not just starting out, get your magician skills in order first by doing lots of gigs, get your quotes and photos and videos and referals, then go from there. There is no reason anyone has to be stuck there, not that that's a bad thing. I specialize in caricatures and doing magic and ventriloquism kid shows and strolling magic for kids, and I'm in an improv comedy group (though that's more for fun). I've done thousands of gigs (I have 8 this week), and booked thousands of entertainers. I was giving basic advice, not giving anyone a complete course in marketing. And I do live and work in the weathiest county in PA, offhand, 70% of my clients are upper middle income and lower wealthy income, and I do occasional shows for millionaires and several for a billionaire. I started from scatch again when I moved to Oregon and again when I moved to PA and got up and running right away just by doing some basic stuff. I did think about marketing specifically to millionaires, but decided not to bother, I'm happy doing what I do and I do well. I did read one book for magicians on marketing to millionaires, but it was terrible.
Dannydoyle
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Quote:
On Jul 9, 2021, Nathan Alexander wrote:

Years ago I had a few shows for "wealthier" crowds at their homes where I entertained in their living room. It went over very well, but I never had more than that. Is this a feasible market I can approach?



Great Dan. But this was his very specific question. I have quoted his question up front.

You have said this is not what you do. No problem. This is ALL I do.

The suggestions you have are the equivalent of using Bass fishing equipment and bait and techniques to fish for squid.

The Bass fishing equipment may be wonderful and the techniques may very well work incredibly well for Bass and yield great success.

It will be less than useless for squid.

Nothing wrong with fishing for Bass. It is great. It is just that you won't catch many squid, except by coincidence.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
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