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I'm new here; interested in learning about strategies for making it as a magician professionally; how does one even start? (Practicing aside of course.)
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #2 
John, welcome to The Magician's Forum. Glad to have you. As an amateur/hobbyist, I cannot help with your question, but this site is frequented by plenty of pros, both part-time and full, so the answers are around and about. Jump in, participate, establish yourself, and no doubt your answers will be forthcoming. In the meantime, here's a suggestion: Search for threads started by member Ken Theriot. He is on a journey to become a working pro and his questions - and the answers to them - will provide access to some of the answers you seek. 

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Thank you very much. 
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I'm so glad that you've joined us, John!

Anthony have given some solid advice. There are a lot of talented and successful pros who I'm sure will be happy to give you some tips.

How long have you been practicing magic?

Rudy

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arthur stead

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Hi John,

The first thing to do is to decide exactly what field of magic you want to specialize in.  Kids magic, family shows, close-up, educational programs, restaurant table-hopping, stage illusions, etc.  Then research everything you can about that particular niche.  

Next, pick your favorite tricks which fit that mold, and develop interesting, original routines for them.  Then rehearse those routines until you can perform them without thinking about any moves, sleights, or other secret maneuvers.  

Of course, it’s important to test each of those routines by performing for friends & family members, as well as other magicians, to make sure they’ll work in the “real world.”  In those situations, you must ask your test audiences to be brutally honest.  Then make adjustments according to the responses you get.  You may end up dropping some tricks altogether, or substituting others, or just tweaking your blocking or patter where needed. 

Finally, turn those routines into an act.  This is where you “fine tune” how to start a performance, decide on the sequence of your effects, figure out how to segue smoothly from one trick into another (including stuff like putting aside props from previous trick, and introducing the next ones) and work on maintaining momentum and audience interest.  Also, you’ll plan your performance so it has a sensational beginning, an intriguing middle, and an unforgettable ending. 

All this preparation would be worthless unless you eventually start performing for “real” people.  That’s when you truly get to hone your skills, develop audience management, learn from mistakes, and work towards perfection.  There’s nothing like the experience you gain from performing for real audiences.

I’ve just scratched the surface here … (we haven’t even covered how to look for jobs, what to charge, dealing with clients, and so on) … but I hope my comments will be helpful.


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Bmat

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hamilton
I'm new here; interested in learning about strategies for making it as a magician professionally; how does one even start? (Practicing aside of course.)


First you need a solid business plan.  Most magicians fail not because of poor magic, but because of poor business sense.  

Who is your audience?
Where do you advertise to get their attention?
How much does your act cost each time? (expenses)
How much do you need to make to ensure you make enough to earn a living at it?
How do you build your act, promote yourself, network etc to justify your pricing to the masses?
Name Recogntion?  how are you going to get that?

Budget?

Go to a bank they often have forms that will help you and guide you into a usable business plan.  You can find them online but there are so many to sift through that you may need to ask questions at your bank.  Some questions will not apply to you or you will think they don't. But they actually do.

At least starting out.  Find a really good talent agent.  Sure you will give up a percentage of every show you do.  But its better than not having a show to give up a percentage to. It is part of doing business.    

Or you can get a zillion business cards made, make a web page get headshots done and wait...and wait...and wait.  

It really starts with business question after business question.  The magic comes much later.  It goes without saying that you have to have the 'chops' but the fact that you are asking the question implies that you already have the magic part squared away. 

If not, then that is another discussion.  There are ways to get there as well obviously. 

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Reply with quote  #7 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudy Tinoco
I'm so glad that you've joined us, John!

Anthony have given some solid advice. There are a lot of talented and successful pros who I'm sure will be happy to give you some tips.

How long have you been practicing magic?

Rudy

 

Thanks for the warm welcome; I've been practicing off and on ever since I was twelve; twenty-three now. I'm not super great at it or anything though; it's more of a fun hobby. Usually when I'm at a restaraunt with a group of friends, I can't resist doing the torn and restored napkin trick, sometimes a bending spoon illusion, or just appear to shove my straw into my brain through the nasal cavity lmao. Also designed my own levitating ball illusion when I was about thirteen that I can do with a (carefully) wadded up napkin at the right angle.....works a lot better with a medium sized foam ball though lol. 

 

Also know a small handful of card tricks, some word-play tricks (don't know what else to call it; it's basically a type of mentalism I suppose, only carefully worded so that 98% of people will arrive at the same nearly-inevitable conclusion lol. Small chance of them picking a different option than what I intend them to; they'd have to have an extraordinary level of Geography knowledge bordering on savant-like lol. If I end up with one of those types, it's just an opportunity for fun patter or a joke; perhaps pointing out the astronomical odds of the spectator choosing that country instead of Denmark lol.

 

Know a few coin tricks, some rubber band magic, card tricks, card slights and flourishes, stage magic/illusions, escape magic, little bit of joke/prank magic...I don't think I could make a list of all the magic in my head; I still find myself watching other magicians and seeing them do a trick I know but that I forgot that I knew lmao. Like, "Oh yeah! I remember that one!" And I used to know a card trick when I was a little kid that ended up creating a royal flush that really floored my mother, the gambler lol. She's wanted me to repeat it ever since I came home from school, but for the life of me I can't remember how I did it or what it was called; scoured through all my magic books looking for it but couldn't find it; must've been in a magic book I checked out of the library or something. That's always a sad memory; such a great trick, but it's method is gone from my conscious memory lol. Might try digging it out of the dark recesses of my unconscious through drugs and hypnosis in the future; I really want that back lmao. XD

 

 

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by arthur stead

Hi John,

The first thing to do is to decide exactly what field of magic you want to specialize in.  Kids magic, family shows, close-up, educational programs, restaurant table-hopping, stage illusions, etc.  Then research everything you can about that particular niche.  

Next, pick your favorite tricks which fit that mold, and develop interesting, original routines for them.  Then rehearse those routines until you can perform them without thinking about any moves, sleights, or other secret maneuvers.  

Of course, it’s important to test each of those routines by performing for friends & family members, as well as other magicians, to make sure they’ll work in the “real world.”  In those situations, you must ask your test audiences to be brutally honest.  Then make adjustments according to the responses you get.  You may end up dropping some tricks altogether, or substituting others, or just tweaking your blocking or patter where needed. 

Finally, turn those routines into an act.  This is where you “fine tune” how to start a performance, decide on the sequence of your effects, figure out how to segue smoothly from one trick into another (including stuff like putting aside props from previous trick, and introducing the next ones) and work on maintaining momentum and audience interest.  Also, you’ll plan your performance so it has a sensational beginning, an intriguing middle, and an unforgettable ending. 

All this preparation would be worthless unless you eventually start performing for “real” people.  That’s when you truly get to hone your skills, develop audience management, learn from mistakes, and work towards perfection.  There’s nothing like the experience you gain from performing for real audiences.

I’ve just scratched the surface here … (we haven’t even covered how to look for jobs, what to charge, dealing with clients, and so on) … but I hope my comments will be helpful.

 

What kind of magic field I want to be in I suppose would depend on whatever level I'm at currently. Currently, I'd say I'm at Street Magic level. Basic rough draft plan in my head currently is something kinda like this, (do correct me if I'm being illogical or unrealistic):

 

Bone up on a small handful of good tricks until they're flawless, then find the most heavily trafficked area of my city, then find a business in the area that will let me rent a space in front of their store for a percent of my earnings, (little table, maybe an artistic sign, and a magicians top out of course...inverted, with a little slip saying "Donations Welcome" in beautiful calligraphy lol). Then...I dunno...start doing a card flourish/fushigi ball flurish/coin flourish/juggling routine while asking passerbys if they'd be interested in some magic until someone doesn't tell me to screw off then start doing some more elaborate tricks for them...which kinda require spectators/volunteers in order for them to...like...work lol. Unlike flourishes. XD

 

After I amaze people, hopefully they'll want to visit a bit....or ask me if I do birthday parties....because I'd mention that I'm interested in birthday parties if THEY don't mention it lol. And then I could move up from By-Donation Street Magic, to Hourly-Wage Birthday Party magician. Yippee; one step in the right direction I suppose. From there I'd be meeting more folks, spending more time with them, and eventually parents will start talking to other parents which might bring in more business, which will make people start talking even more. Maybe some upper class events like parties and weddings would find out about me and want to hire me. As I get more and more skilled, maybe someone from Vegas or Hollywood would notice. 

 

But yep...kind of a longshot; lot of competition in the industry these days; seen magicians do things that look flatout impossible on TV; some of that shit's gotta be camera tricks or CG or something. If it is, gotta say that's kinda disappointing, saddening, and kinda insulting. I'm more into classical magic tricks. 

 

My dream-trick that I've been obsessed with doing in the past before is the infamous Indian Rope Trick that many magicians themselves concur is impossible and had to have just been a myth. That just might be the pinnacle of classic magic right there. *stares dreamily off into space*

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Reply with quote  #9 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bmat


First you need a solid business plan.  Most magicians fail not because of poor magic, but because of poor business sense.  

Who is your audience?
Where do you advertise to get their attention?
How much does your act cost each time? (expenses)
How much do you need to make to ensure you make enough to earn a living at it?
How do you build your act, promote yourself, network etc to justify your pricing to the masses?
Name Recogntion?  how are you going to get that?

Budget?

Go to a bank they often have forms that will help you and guide you into a usable business plan.  You can find them online but there are so many to sift through that you may need to ask questions at your bank.  Some questions will not apply to you or you will think they don't. But they actually do.

At least starting out.  Find a really good talent agent.  Sure you will give up a percentage of every show you do.  But its better than not having a show to give up a percentage to. It is part of doing business.    

Or you can get a zillion business cards made, make a web page get headshots done and wait...and wait...and wait.  

It really starts with business question after business question.  The magic comes much later.  It goes without saying that you have to have the 'chops' but the fact that you are asking the question implies that you already have the magic part squared away. 

If not, then that is another discussion.  There are ways to get there as well obviously. 

 

Fortunately, I don't need to make all that much; I live with my mother currently; recently fleed from Alaska because of my father. We're not worried about money because mom also recently lost both her parents who were millionaires and left everything they had to be divided up amongst mom and her two brothers. So yep, food, water, shelter, and entertainment is all not-an-issue. I just like having a job because I like having independence and money that I can say is actually mine. Currently I'm just a part time cashier working for minimum wage; I make around 370 dollars every two weeks if I'm lucky. If friggin' Street Magic pays more than THAT, lmao, then hey, Street Magic might be for me, right? XD I'm expecting it to almost feel like prostitution....I'm young, talented, good-looking, and I want the money sooo...yeah, why not? XD

 

And when you think about it....being a magician is almost like playing with toys and games for money lmao. That's awesome! Definitely my dream-job to play for a living. XD

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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #10 

If street magic is going to be your thing, I still wouldn’t disregard all the advice shared by TMF members above.  For one thing, there may be rules and regulations in your city about where and how you are able to perform.  Plus, you may need a license.  And of course, the taxman cannot be avoided.  If you’re earning an income, Uncle Sam wants his percentage!  

Another aspect is crowd control.  Unless you’re really experienced, that is a skill you’ll have to investigate, study, and develop.  The quickest way to learn it is obviously by performing.  But unless you have the right personality for it, it may take a while for you to “learn the ropes.”

Furthermore, you expressed your hope that street gigs will lead to being booked at birthday parties.  That is a whole different ball game!  Card and coin tricks won’t fly in that environment.  You’ll need colorful props plus lots of gags, silliness and funny business.  Kids want to have fun, fun, fun!  Perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to learn something about child psychology.  Especially how to control a room full of super-excited kids, how to handle young volunteers, and how to get unruly kids to focus.  And then there are the business details, like selling yourself, dealing with parents, when and how to promote yourself during shows, etc.  Becoming a success in the kidshow market is an art form unto itself.


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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by arthur stead

If street magic is going to be your thing, I still wouldn’t disregard all the advice shared by TMF members above.  For one thing, there may be rules and regulations in your city about where and how you are able to perform.  Plus, you may need a license.  And of course, the taxman cannot be avoided.  If you’re earning an income, Uncle Sam wants his percentage!  

Another aspect is crowd control.  Unless you’re really experienced, that is a skill you’ll have to investigate, study, and develop.  The quickest way to learn it is obviously by performing.  But unless you have the right personality for it, it may take a while for you to “learn the ropes.”

Furthermore, you expressed your hope that street gigs will lead to being booked at birthday parties.  That is a whole different ball game!  Card and coin tricks won’t fly in that environment.  You’ll need colorful props plus lots of gags, silliness and funny business.  Kids want to have fun, fun, fun!  Perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to learn something about child psychology.  Especially how to control a room full of super-excited kids, how to handle young volunteers, and how to get unruly kids to focus.  And then there are the business details, like selling yourself, dealing with parents, when and how to promote yourself during shows, etc.  Becoming a success in the kidshow market is an art form unto itself.

 

Indeed; not disregarding anything at all; sorry if it sounded like that. And yes, I know all about discerning age-appropriate magic for the audience; kids wouldn't be able to follow most of my card tricks, and money is boring. I'd probably want to go for something involving balloon animals, handkerchiefs, puppets, and other silly magic that's good for laughs. 

 

I guess what I was trying to say, is that I don't see any reason to be limited to just one field of magic; I'd like to learn them all eventually and be able to adapt to survive so to speak.

 

Thanks again guys. =)

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Bmat

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hamilton

 

 

Fortunately, I don't need to make all that much; I live with my mother currently; recently fleed from Alaska because of my father. We're not worried about money because mom also recently lost both her parents who were millionaires and left everything they had to be divided up amongst mom and her two brothers. So yep, food, water, shelter, and entertainment is all not-an-issue. I just like having a job because I like having independence and money that I can say is actually mine. Currently I'm just a part time cashier working for minimum wage; I make around 370 dollars every two weeks if I'm lucky. If friggin' Street Magic pays more than THAT, lmao, then hey, Street Magic might be for me, right? XD I'm expecting it to almost feel like prostitution....I'm young, talented, good-looking, and I want the money sooo...yeah, why not? XD

 

And when you think about it....being a magician is almost like playing with toys and games for money lmao. That's awesome! Definitely my dream-job to play for a living. XD



Don't know where you live, but you may want to investigate getting a buskers license. Usually not expensive and certainly saves on the fines imposed if you are street performing without one.   

Street magic doesn't pay anything.  Some days will be good, others not so good. Depends on a lot of factors.  Some make a ton, others make nothing.  Restaurant gigs, children's parties almost any form of actual paid performance makes more than 370 dollars every two weeks.  Almost no way to live off 370 dollars a week if you are paying your rent, car payments food and all the other stuff that most of us have to worry about.  Your question is how do you make a living at it?  If you don't need to be making a living at it and just doing it as a 'paid' hobby for lack of a better term then the answer becomes so much easier. 

Go perform.  Everywhere and anywhere you can. My caution becomes this.  If the money is not your concern be respectful of other magicians in your area who are performing for their livelyhood.  Don't be that guy.  that 50 dollar magician who lowers the standards of magic and working magicians.   Either be professional and charge professional prices as if you do have to make a living at it.  Or keep it as a hobby.  

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Reply with quote  #13 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bmat


Don't know where you live, but you may want to investigate getting a buskers license. Usually not expensive and certainly saves on the fines imposed if you are street performing without one.   

Street magic doesn't pay anything.  Some days will be good, others not so good. Depends on a lot of factors.  Some make a ton, others make nothing.  Restaurant gigs, children's parties almost any form of actual paid performance makes more than 370 dollars every two weeks.  Almost no way to live off 370 dollars a week if you are paying your rent, car payments food and all the other stuff that most of us have to worry about.  Your question is how do you make a living at it?  If you don't need to be making a living at it and just doing it as a 'paid' hobby for lack of a better term then the answer becomes so much easier. 

Go perform.  Everywhere and anywhere you can. My caution becomes this.  If the money is not your concern be respectful of other magicians in your area who are performing for their livelyhood.  Don't be that guy.  that 50 dollar magician who lowers the standards of magic and working magicians.   Either be professional and charge professional prices as if you do have to make a living at it.  Or keep it as a hobby.  

 

I'm in Kalispell, Montana. And indeed, thanks for the tips. =)

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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #14 

Yes John, in keeping with what Bmat said:  If money is not a concern, then please don’t just dabble.  Be GREAT.  

My magic income came from performing educational school assemblies, which year after year became harder to book because of the growing number of mediocre “magicians” selling themselves in a market they weren’t qualified for.  Clients eventually became wary of booking magic acts because they couldn’t be sure they’d get a professional who could inspire the kids.  As Bmat stated, people who lower the standards and offer a below-par product, end up hurting working professionals.


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Reply with quote  #15 

Thanks again. 😉 

 

How do I inspire kids to do what? o.O

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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #16 

In the educational magic market, you develop shows based on a theme, like anti-bullying, self-esteem, literacy, science, math, etc.  You need to do a lot of research and “know your stuff”, plus have the ability to get kids excited about the topic, and ensure that they have fun PLUS retain the important messages you share during your show.


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Reply with quote  #17 

What about outside the educational market? When I was a little kid, school was the last thing I wanted to think about lol. An anti-bullying/self esteem theme though would be cool; wished I'd have had more of that as a kid. I settled my bully problem with my fists though and after a few years of that got locked up for it for a few years lol, so yeah...feels real good in the moment to get payback against bullies, but I probably could've done it without violence if I'd have known how to. Looking back though....not sure if I would've handled it any differently. I know that's what most people are looking for in a reformed "criminal", remorse...but I can't say as I feel any; sure, lot of bad stuff happened to me afterwards as a result, but I survived it all, and I never let anybody walk all over me or treat me like a punching bag, (consequently, my sentence kept getting extended because I put another inmate in the hospital), but for some baffling reason, people just stopped bullying me, like magic, lol. XD

And as a result, I was finally able to get out early for good behavior. So yeah.....I kinda made things harder on myself, but despite that, I'm glad I at least had a backbone and stood up for myself the only way I knew how/the way my father taught me to, (he was ex-military; trained me in Krav Maga and various other combat disciplines from the age of eight, told me to never be a victim. Lot of messed up stuff happened to him; guess he couldn't handle the thought of the same happening to me. ...He was never really a dad though; more of a drill sergeant.)

 

....Maybe something with puppets? o.O XD

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Rudy Tinoco

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Reply with quote  #18 
Just so that you fellas aren't left hanging on why this thread came to an abrupt end; myself and a couple of other trusted members of our community were questioning the heart behind these posts and came to the conclusion that they were Shrek-ish in nature. 

I've only had to ban a few people in these last couple of years and never do so without really looking at the situation closely.

I love that the Magician's Forum sort of moderates itself. Thanks to those of you who brought this to my attention.

Rudy

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