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Free Magic Shows
Poll ended at Sun Jan 28, 2007 1:21 pm
Yes 59%  59%  [ 20 ]
No 41%  41%  [ 14 ]
Total votes : 34
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 Post subject: Free Magic Shows?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:16 pm 
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Since there's been alot of discussion on free shows in the kid forums lately (past few months), I thought a thread should be started on this topic.

Are free shows OK to do?


Pro:

- Helps magician (you) get exposure, usually easy since it would save somebody money from hiring somebody.
- Can be great for charity (most charities do, I believe, have a budget so they have money to hire, but a few charities have fundraising events relying totally on people volunteering for free).
- Gives you a great opportunity at testing 'yourself/your show' for a live crowd. Therefore, it gives you some experience.
- (especially for a beginning magician) It's easier to offer for free than for a fee.
- If your show doesn't turn out well, you won't feel too bad as they didn't pay you.



Con:

- Great chance that the magician (you) doing a free show is taking away work (and money) from a seasoned pro who may even make his living off performing.
- You could become known as the magician who does free shows.
- Free shows could make it harder for you to start charging as people are used to you doing free shows.
- People may not take you seriously if all you do is free shows.


Last edited by sneak on Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:58 pm, edited 11 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Free Magic Shows?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:27 pm 
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born to perform.

Joined: 23 Jul 2004
Posts: 2440
Location: NJ
sneak wrote:
Are free shows OK to do?
...And if for kids, people may wonder why you want to do free shows for kids (especially if you're a teen or adult).


If they do then you have the perfect answer. I would like to increase my skills before I start charging people because the more experience I get the better the shows are. So i do not believe that this is a con. If anything it is a pro.

One great place to do them at is the public library. I believe that doing free shows for charities is a good thing when you start off. Its much better then doing a paid show becuase when you first start your shows will be much worse then they are later on. If you do a paid show at first and it stinks (which it more then likely will be) then you are in a terrible position. You did a bad show and people had to pay to see it. By word of mouth you will quickly be known as a bad magician and you will not be able to get anywhere near the number of shows that you would have gotten had you just done the free show.

So i think its great to do free shows when starting off as long as they are for charities. Don't do free shows for birthday kids becuase then you will be stealing the show from a pro.

Ben Winter


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:44 pm 
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Hey Ben,

I've deleted that con part you quoted me on as it could be as much pro as con, depending on how one looks at it. Thanks.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 2:31 pm 
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i tgink its a great place to start, as for birthday parties ur obviously going to get hired by someone who cant afford a real magician so ur doing a poor family a favor (happy birthday) im sure the pros areent even on the same turf as the free workers


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 2:47 pm 
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If you do shows for free, nobody will think you are any good. You should charge something, even if it's only $30. If you don't charge, when you finally want to start charging nobody will hire you. They will think you have a crappy show.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 4:29 pm 
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I agree, free shows is a great place to start, but if you do it too much, then as 'juggleguy' said, people may not hire you because they are used to you doing free shows plus they just may not take you seriously and would rather spend their money on another magician they believe will deliver the goods.

In any free show you do, I'd recommend that you use it as a promo show to advertise yourself and make that clear (if needed) and if for a charity, just make sure it's clear that it's a charity you really believe in. Many entertainment professionals donate their time for free to a charity if it's one they really believe in.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 6:02 pm 
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I think it also depends on the age. If you're over 18, I believe you should NEVER do free shows under any circumstance without a very good reason. At this age people expect professionalism and they expect to pay... if you're not good enough to get paid, back to the drawing board.

Under 18, I won't comment :?

I do free shows (clowning, I'm new to magic) for the major children hospitals in my city, but the reason is obvious.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 8:24 pm 
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A free show is worth exactly what it cost, nothing. People know that the only reason for an entertainer to do a free show is because it is so bad that he has to give it away. Chub says that any one under 18 should do free shows. Again, if you are a kid and you "get publicity" for a free show, the audience knows that you are a kid playing at5 being a magician. So the will go and humour you and then say "well he is a nice kid." I have NEVER gotten a paid show, nor have I ever heard of a person getting a paid gig from doing a free show for "charity."

I will not do a freebie for any hospital because they are profit centers. If a hospital can pay the director several hundred thousand dollars a year, they can afford my show. The Red Cross and United Way pay the area directors up to One Million Dollars a year. They can pay me.

You don't find any other profession, doctor, lawyer, executive, whatever, that does free work to get more work. If we do it, we are being idiots.

Paddy


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 8:34 pm 
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paddy wrote:
...I have NEVER gotten a paid show, nor have I ever heard of a person getting a paid gig from doing a free show for "charity."...


Well I did a free show for the public library and i got 5 paid shows (well i would have had 5 but i unfortunately was unable to do 2 of them because i already had summer plans on those days, so i actually only had 3) plus in the end the library gave me an honorarium which i was not expecting.

Ben Winter


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 8:41 pm 
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Quote:
Chub says that any one under 18 should do free shows. Again, if you are a kid and you "get publicity" for a free show, the audience knows that you are a kid playing at5 being a magician. So the will go and humour you and then say "well he is a nice kid." I have NEVER gotten a paid show, nor have I ever heard of a person getting a paid gig from doing a free show for "charity."
I'm sorry if I gave the wrong impression, I'm new to the board (posting, I've been lurking for sometime) so I didn't want to put myself out there straight away and piss off the regulars... so I went a little cautious first off.

I don't think anyone should do free shows ever (with the exception below), just to clarify that point. I agree with you 110%. It seems like the age factor is a big point of debate on this board and I didn't want to get involved in a flame war on my first day of posting :)

Also with the charity, for some people it's not about money. I agree that hospitals make a large amount of money and can afford to pay performers... people should never feel obligued to do a show for free, but on the same token I genuinely enjoy doing clowning for the kids with cancer and other sickness and don't need any reimbursment. I don't think it's fair to look down upon these people, I'm not trying to get more work.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 12:04 am 
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I've been performing as a part-time professional for several years, and I will admit that I do a few free shows from time to time. However, I have some criteria, if you will, that I insist upon. Things like:

-- Must be in-town (If I have to travel a ways to get to the show, I will at least insist that they pay a "mileage allowance" for gas and wear-and-tear on my car.)

-- Must be something I have a personal connection to (my church, a charity I support, etc. Once I did a birthday party for a good friend of mine who had fallen on hard times and wanted to give her daughter a special birthday party anyway. But I charge for other birthday parties.) I would be willing to consider something at one of the local libraries, since I'm a big proponent of reading and am a frequent "customer", but I haven't pursued that really.

-- If it's a church show, if they ask if I will do a show for free, I ask the person booking me if they can at least take up a "love offering" for me, explaining how the contributions help me maintain and expand my ministry.

Usually, they'll ask me for a price before they ask me if I'll do it for free, so at least the person booking me knows what I charge for a show and knows what I think it's worth.

Hope that helps some.


P.S. As far as the age debate -- I think I'll stay out of that for now ...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 12:14 am 
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Ha Ha - someone always has to be insulting, don't they?

First, let me say that I am a PART TIME magician. I mainly focus on Gospel Magic, but Also do some school and B-day shows. I have only been performing (not counting close-up) shows for about 10 months, so I am by no means an EXPERT, as some CLAIM to be. But here is my $.02 :

My shows are good. I have no problem finding paid shows. Actually, after performing, I often get booked by someone in the audience. But I still do some free shows. So the "you get what you pay for" theory is not always correct.

As stated earlier, I mainly do Gospel Magic. This is a MINISTRY to me, more than a MONEY MAKER. I do church shows for no fee, as this is a MINISTRY. However, I have never had a church that hasn't given me a NICE love offering(often more than I would have charged anyway).

I also did a free B-day show for a close friend's child. It was my gift to the child (a close family friend).

Sometimes, some of us just have a kind spirit, and like giving to a good cause or something. I love what Chub does for hospitals. Sure, the hospital has money. But if the hospital isn't willing to spend the money on entertainment for the patients, the patients (especially children) should still be able to have some entertainment. Chub, I really respect what you do for these children!

Okay, my speach is over! I already know two people here are going to flame me for what I said. So, let's have it

Mike


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 1:41 am 
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Quote:
Sometimes, some of us just have a kind spirit, and like giving to a good cause or something. I love what Chub does for hospitals. Sure, the hospital has money. But if the hospital isn't willing to spend the money on entertainment for the patients, the patients (especially children) should still be able to have some entertainment. Chub, I really respect what you do for these children!
Exactly, I do 3 - 4 shows a week for various hospitals, I'm sure if I only accepted pay shows they would not get me in that often (maybe once a month, who knows, maybe never). Making money is fine, but that's not the bottom line in life for me.

Cmon Paddy, even you can see the difference between doing subpar free shows to gain experience (which I really dislike)... and doing a professional show to brighten a sick kids day. I'm not here to tread on peoples turf though, I am a professional entertainer (clown, comedian, musician, stuntsman) but when it comes to magic I've only been at it for 2 years and haven't performed *any* professionally... so I'm here to learn (and so far your posts have been the most helpful, along with Kyles and Sluggo's).

I never knew Gospel magic was so large, I've never seen any ministry over in Australia taught that way... someone should youtube a performance some time, I am really interested.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 7:39 am 
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I, too, am a full time professional magician. I also am a clown. I still stand by my statement. I understand that I can do a party as a gift for a friend, fine, they still understand that it is a gift, just like if I went out and spent a couple of hundred dollars on something for them.

Like I said in my previous post. Go ask your doctor to give you free health care. Go ask your barber to give you a free haircut. Either one may give his services as a gift to someone, but you wouldn't dream of asking for a freebie. Ask one of your big star musicians to do a free show and he will tell you to kiss off. (Yes they do donate to a charity but that is their own idea not the charities)

Yet we, as working professionals, are asked, and expected, to give away our shows. It has taken me years to perfect my act. I am constantly adding things, practicing and rehearsing. In fact my usual work week is between 80 to 100 hours long. If you ever notice when I am on the board it is usually between 2 to 5 AM. The cost to keep my show fresh and to replace items that are renewable runs up. My cost to get to a show is there. But I am asked and expected to give a FREE SHOW.

NO, if you are a quality performer you protect your income. Let the amateurs play at being magicians, but us real ones need to be paid.

Paddy


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 10:06 am 
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paddy wrote:
Like I said in my previous post. Go ask your doctor to give you free health care. Go ask your barber to give you a free haircut. Either one may give his services as a gift to someone, but you wouldn't dream of asking for a freebie. Ask one of your big star musicians to do a free show and he will tell you to kiss off. (Yes they do donate to a charity but that is their own idea not the charities)


Just one comment -- I know all kinds of people who ask for free services. My in-laws ask me to fix their computers for free (I'm an IT guy), my wife (a counselor) gets asked for free advice/counseling all the time. My mother-in-law, a music teacher, is often asked to give free piano lessons. A good friend of mine who's a doctor is frequently asked to give out free medical advice. And the list goes on.

Do we do it? It really depends on the circumstances. But people certainly DO ask paid professionals to offer their services for free. Magicians are not unique in that regard.


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