Every now and then I read posts on Facebook from magicians that are enraged and offended in equal measure.. It’s usually after being contacted by someone searching for a cheap magician for their event.
The general fury seems to be that anyone would dare to ask for a high quality performer, but only have a small budget. Here’s some of the comments that usually follow from all the magicians in thread:
“Sorry, I’m looking for a high quality client…“
“It’s always like that… They want something great for nothing..“
“People just have no idea what variety artists cost. Time for you to go get them educated!“
“Like someone with 5 bucks looking for a prime rib dinner…“
The rest of the thread usually becomes a ‘pity party’ about the state of the market for magicians, and how people are either tight, or just cheeky by attempting to get professional performers for peanuts.
Before I set about offending some of you, let me clarify something first.
Every magician that performs for the public should be high quality. There should be no gradient.. Either you know your act and are entertaining, or you have no place charging people for a service you can’t provide. The fee should have nothing to do with it. From the guy performing to his mates in the bar, the quick serve burger joint table hopper, the busking street performer, and corporate entertainer. You should have a professional manner, be presentable within the accepted range of your character persona (if you play a scruffy tramp character, you can get away with a LOT) Know your craft and be entertaining. If you are not high quality, the debate isn’t how much you should charge, it’s how best should we stop you performing. That’s the ‘ideal’ but sadly we do have a gradient of product.. It just doesn’t have much to do with price..
A cheap magician is not always a low quality magician
I eat out a LOT, and I perform at a LOT of restaurants. Over the years, I’ve learned this to be true:
How expensive a restaurant is, doesn’t
always reflect the quality of the food or service…
The price of a service or product is sometimes more about its customers than its quality. You CAN buy quality.. But price is not always an accurate gauge of what you are getting. More often than we think, we get the same quality at a range of price points. It happens with so many things we buy..
Let’s say I open a coffee shop. I sell one thing: Hot water with ground up coffee in it. Lots of people come into my shop, each with different budgets and different attitudes to spending money for a hot drink. I want each customer to spend the maximum they are prepared to pay, but I only have one product. To solve this, I have lots of different ways to prepare the hot drink, all at different costs. I add extra hot water to some drinks (it costs me hardly anything extra to do), others get a second shot of coffee in the water, and then I can charge a premium. None of my hot drinks are REALLY any better or cost me much more than any of the others, but they range in price, so my customers can buy the most expensive drink they feel comfortable ordering.
It’s just the same in the supermarket.. The cheaper washing powder can be exactly the same as the premium branded product.. It’s just packaged to appeal to a specific group of customers, so the soap powder companies can sell to everyone, and everyone will pay the maximum amount they are prepared to pay for their product.
In just the same way as the coffee shop owner.. Successful magicians market to different groups of customers that have a range of price points. The cheap magician gets more gigs, the more expensive one works less, but tends to earn more…
Not everyone should pay as much as everyone else.
Not everyone can afford a top price magician. People have different budgets, and events have to work within the expected revenue from ticket sales in order to be profitable. A range of suppliers of different price points is a good thing. The public needs a range of acts to match a range of budgets and everyone is happy. The retirement home that has a tiny budget for entertainment, the hard working couple that has saved for years towards their daughter’s wedding. Not everyone has a budget to suit the PERFORMERS EGO..
Let’s look at an alternative choice for live entertainment. Singers are available at ALL price points. Should buskers and street performers that work for small change be discouraged because their clients only pay a few coins? No. Equally, It would be madness for every bar or club singer to expect the same fee as a famous artist, even though their skills and voice may be of that standard. It’s all about what the venue and event can sustain.
Being rude about clients that don’t have the fee you want is simply unprofessional.. What should professional magicians say to people on a budget that phone them for a quote? “NO… Not for you, poor person…. Be gone…” Of course not… We are not there to ‘educate’ him or her either. The client is always right.. They can be tested to see if they will pay a little more, but that’s it. There is no such thing as too small a fee.. Only the wrong magicians being asked to accept it.
But being asked to be a cheap magician is insulting
“How absurd. I’m not a cheap magician. These people think they can get a high quality magician for next to nothing… THE CHEEK!”
It shouldn’t feel that way. For a moment, why not put yourself in the place of the person looking to hire you. That person may simply be working in an administrative role at the place. He or she may have just been given the job of putting out the message and sourcing a magician, based upon a budget over which she actually has no control. The Enquirer is probably just doing his or her job. It’s always wise to ask for a discount, try to get a deal, or simply look for the best price.
How often have most people even booked magicians? It’s a rare thing and we should not expect the public to have any clue what the rates are. Let’s keep our egos under control and not be so quick to take offense when someone shows an interest in our services..
Having said that… It’s fine to point out that the budget the client had in mind is too small and that if they don’t spend enough, quality could suffer. I often say:
“Well, to be honest Mr……… $£xxx is very cheap for a magician, and trust me… The last thing you want at your event is a cheap magician.”
I say it with a smile, and make sure I don’t come across as offended. Sometimes, that strikes home, and the fee is raised, other times I decline politely, thank them of thinking of me, and wish them well. That’s all that needs to be done really.
Don’t get angry.. Get a better customer base.
Don’t get angry at the prices other magicians charge.. Or the budgets of the lower end of a market place… There needs to be suppliers for every budget. Focus on reaching the customer base that wants your product for the fee you want to charge.. If the client’s budget is too low just decline the work, but be polite and respectful. They are not being rude, or uneducated in the ways of your profession.. They are simply not a fit for YOUR product.
Where did the Enquirer find your details? Are you marketing in the right circles for the level of fee you want to attract? Magicians can easily get trapped in a price bubble. That’s when they do a lower paid gig, and getting lower paid referral work from it. Soon they find they are mainly working in that area/market and they don’t seem to encounter any clients willing to pay the fee’s they feel they should command.
The way to break a fee bubble, or simply become a more profitable magician is to increase your fee’s and change your customer base at the same time. Market yourself in areas and circles that can match your rates. You can find out more about this process here
Maybe, instead of feeling angry and complaining to our fellow magicians, we should focus our energy to finding the RIGHT clients, instead of moaning that the ones that find US are just not good enough…
There is no such thing as too small a fee.. Only the wrong magicians being asked to accept it. Never be offended when someone asks if they can employ you.. Consider their offer and either accept it or politely decline it.
I’d love to know your opinion on this. If you disagree or agree.. Please leave me a comment below.
I wish you the very best wish your magic