I know that plenty of people have been posting these outrageous prices that they charge....That sounds awesome that you can make $3500 a show...But it must take a lot to get at the level that a company is willing to charge you that much for a show....I just don't see any restaurant where I live reasonably giving me $50/hour because I live on a small island on the east coast of Canada...I only know of one magician that has ever performed on the island and he did kids shows and birthdays and Macdonalds, but other than that, I've never seen anyone else perform at restaurants so it may be harder to pick up a gig....If a restaurant wanteed me to perform but only for $15 / hour starting or something, I don't know if it would be even worht while...It would for experiance of course but the money just wouldn't be their....Did you actually start out charging like $50 / hour and do you know any young magicians that are only 18 and 19 that charge those rates?
Yes, some of the prices do 'sound' far fetced, but in the corporate world of tradeshows, these companies are very competative and these costs are actually an investment. The addage of it takes money to make money fits right in. What they spend now will be returned to them either in sales or buisness ventures and partnerships.
You cannot start out at the top dollar range, unless of course you are of the same polished and entertaing caliber and even then it may be difficult.
Some people are great at being able to sell themselves and others use agents.
I know that time is valuable and such a low rate sounds cheap, but remember, you gotta spend money to make money. In otherwords, if you are just starting out and the restaurant is willing to pay $15-20, go for it. In the long run, you are 1) getting some compensation for your time 2) performing for real people and polishing your performing style 3) getting your name out for posible/probable bookings outside of the restsurant. Down the road you will probably get another gig, perhaps after a time the restaurant you are currently working, you will be able to negotiate for more pay.
Also, and perhaps paddy or someone else can help with this aspect, contracts
. If you do get a steady table hopping job, you will want a contract.