Currently I have the honor of serving as the President of the Texas Association of Magicians. My primary duty is to organize the TAOM convention which happens every year in a different Texas city. As the convention approaches, I am contacted by potential acts.
Getting booked for a magic convention or a magic venue (MCMV) need not be a mysterious process. Allow me to shed some light on the MCMV markets.
Working MCMVs come with perks. You get to attend the magic convention or venue and you also get to network with other bookers who may also be there. BUT BE WARNED: Despite how prestigious it can look to appear at an MCMV, these gigs don’t usually pay much. If you’re a paid professional, then know that MCMVs should be considered as supplemental gigs only. Even your most famous performance venues tend to not pay that much money. You cannot make a magic career solely out of doing MCMVs. If you’re still interested in these gigs, read on.
(1) MAKE YOURSELF USEFUL AND KNOWN TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE This is the hardest step in getting booked at MCMVs. MCMVs are looking for sure-fire talent that they can hire at a reasonable price that will encourage more paying customers (convention registrants and venue customers). If you’re an unknown act, regardless of how good you are, you’re less likely to get booked at an MCMV. You have to make yourself KNOWN in the magic world.
Every MCMV has a single person you want to convince to hire you whether it’s the Castle, the IBM convention or whatever. Who are these people? You’ll have to research those individuals yourself. It wouldn’t be professional for me to list any names here. These bookers are real-life human beings; many of which do magic for pay, just like yourself. Once you assemble your list of potential bookers…
(2) BE USEFUL. Help these producers bring in more customers or registrants and they will probably book you. You need to be known in the magic community a little bit before pitching yourself to these bookers. The best way to make yourself known to these people is to network with your local magic clubs, in your local magic shop, and enter as many magic contests as you can.
Make yourself USEFUL and known in the art of magic. If bookers know that you’re already involved in advancing the art of magic, then they are more likely to book you. Do you volunteer your time at your local magic club? Have you served as an officer of a magic organization? Showing MCMV bookers that you care about the growth of the art of magic beyond your own paycheck and fame is a MUST.
(3) HAVE AN AMAZING PRODUCT for the MCMV to use. Have a great act that’s original and fun. If your act sucks, don’t expect to be booked. Make sure that other people think your act is good before approaching a booker. Again, did I mention magic contests?
How much should you charge? Obviously, you want to get paid for your work; but the harsh reality is that when you go off and work an MCMV you could have just as easily stayed home and worked a couple of local family and made just as much money. Magicians who reach out to me are often shocked when I tell them that I’m USUALLY looking for an act in the $500-$1200 range. Even if I offer to offset some travel expenses, this is often too little money for some acts to travel to work my events. Again, I stress that you can’t get rich on MCMVs.
There is another way to make money at magic conventions and to be useful though: offer to do a FREE lecture. Make the lecture on TRICKS and NOT solely on theory. Consider not charging money for your lecture. Instead let it be a freebie to add on to your performance package and then sell lecture notes and gadgets after your lecture to make extra money.
GOOD Proposal to a Booker:
“Hi. I’m Petrie, an award-winning act from Toronto. I can offer you a 20-minute stage magic presentation for an evening show as well as an appearance in your professional close-up magic show for $750 USD if you’ll also give me the option of doing a magic lecture on original TRICKS. I also ask that you help me offset my travel costs a little.
BAD Proposal to a Booker:
“Hi, I’m Lewis. I’m a celebrity magician from Chicago and I can offer you a 20-minute stage act and my lecture on close-up magic theory for $2000 USD plus expenses. You can add things to the package like a close-up magic performance, too for another $500. When I arrive, I need a ride from the airport and a big hotel suite all to myself.”
(4) VIDEO is your next major asset. Make videos of your BEST performance, in front of a live audience if possible, to show to bookers. Make sure the video is clear but not heavily edited.
(5) MAKE AN AUTHENTIC CONNECTION with bookers. MAIL a PRINTED promo guide to your booker. On your printed material include a description of your act, your contact info, a QR code taking the booker to a video of your act. Include a handwritten letter introducing yourself.
(6) I divide MCMVs up into the following categories: Private Magic Conventions (PMCs), Organization-Sanctioned Magic Conventions (OSMCs) and Magic Venues (MVs). Each of these gigs book a little differently. Contact me if you want to know the process for getting into particular types of gigs.
(7) IT’S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT- MCMV gigs book VERY far in advance, sometimes as far as 2-3 years out. If you want to appear at a convention, approach them at least a year out to be considered. Also, it will take multiple brushes of contact with these bookers in order to maintain a lasting impression. Be patient, don’t be pesky. Follow up every 2-3 weeks at most until you get a contract or they turn you down for the present.
(8) DON’T BE RUDE, a drama queen or unpleasant in any capacity. ANYTIME a performer comes to me with a prideful attitude, I place their promo material in the trash. While magicians are hams by nature, you can promote yourself without gossiping or inciting drama. Never, under any circumstances be rude to a booker! Even if you feel wronged by being asked to lower your fee for their budget, don’t act angry in retaliation! Also, don’t forget that your reputation is ON THE LINE when you’re backstage. BE KIND to EVERYONE backstage.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Reach out to me at email@example.com or contact me at www.bronsonchadwick.com