There are many benefits to working with one or more entertainment agents. However, attracting the attention of a good agent can be a challenge for magicians starting to perform magic to the public. If you intend to turn your magic hobby into a part-time or full-time job, it’s important to know how to find and work with a magic agent or agency.
An agent will probably have a great deal more experience than you in the entertainment industry. After all, that part of the process is their specific field. A good agent can also advise you on how to promote yourself more effectively and can point out the pitfalls of the business, so you don’t make mistakes, when you are starting out.
Agents grow a large list of clients over time that they build a relationship with. They understand the market in your local area and already have many regular events that they need magicians to work at. By using an agent, you benefit from their reputation as well as your own.
A good agent makes an investment in you. After all, you represent them when you work for them. They will help you develop as a performer, give you valuable experience of clients that you may not be able to attract on your own, and will guide you to be as successful as possible.
Their service is being provided at a cost. The agent will either take a commission from each booking they give you (Usually around 10% – 15%). Some agents prefer to look for the best and most reliable entertainers, they can find, who will work for a fee that allows them to add their own fee on top without pricing themselves out of the booking. They will ask you and several other magicians to quote for a booking, and then they will go back to their client and quote with their fee on top.
Usually, an agent will not allow you to market your services at the event. They often insist that you hand out their business cards rather than your own. This is fair, as it is their client, but it can limit your ability to create your own contact list from referrals.
Some agents will contract you, and include an exclusivity clause, which prevents you from working with another agent, whilst your contract with them is in place.
How to choose an agent.
Most agents are awesome and will work really hard for you. Often a long term relationship will form, as they use you over the years with their clients. There are, however, some that have bad reputations and need to be avoided. Never work for an agent that charges you an up front fee to go on their books (This is illegal) The Agents Association has a code of conduct for its members and includes a very useful directory on its website. The union Equity also has a code of conduct for agents and produces a list to warn members about agents that performers have had problems with.
How to contact an agent.
A quick search on Google will bring up the details of several agents in your area. The usual process involves you sending an agent some information to introduce yourself. This should include:
- A recent photograph of yourself, dressed as you do when you perform magic.
- A short biography, with details of your act and previous experience.
- Your membership of any magic societies.
- Details of your availability.
- A show-reel video of you performing.
Some agents will add you to their books right away. Others will want to meet you first and ideally watch you perform. They may try you out on a ‘safe gig’, perhaps with other magicians attending. It’s usual for the agent to attend themselves at those events, and a great time to meet you and see you in action.
An important note about magicians show-reels : The show-reel you send an agent needs to be your very best material, at your best gigs, getting the best reactions. Remember that an agent is not a magician. They don’t care how technically perfect your pass is. They care that the client enjoyed the magic you performed, and that the guests loved you being there too. Your personality, appearance, and professionalism are your products.
The show-reel video needs to be professionally edited to show the reactions your magic really receives. Don’t include footage of magic tricks filmed in your bedroom, living room or hallway, the footage needs to be at real events. If you do feature some tricks that are not live, make sure the background is plain and professional. An agent WILL make up his or her mind about you within a few seconds of the footage. No show-reel is much better than a poorly made one, as you only get one chance to impress an agent. If they don’t like what they see, it will be a challenge to get work from that agent, and possibly the agents they network with. Your show-reel needs to be professionally produced, and present you at the ‘top of your game’. It doesn’t matter how impressive your bio or list of clients appears to be, if your show-reel is not impressive, all that effort will be for nothing.
Sometimes agents will contact you instead.
Agents talk to the magicians that work for them, and sometimes, if an agent can’t find any magicians available for a gig, they will ask for a recommendation. If you have a good reputation in your area amongst the working pros, you may find you get a call from an agent, needing to fill a gig.
Six quick tips:
1) Send your details to an agent and follow up with them a week later. Don’t contact the agent repeatedly, chasing them to deal with you. That could turn them off you, when they were in fact, just very busy and were waiting for the right event to try you out.
2) Make sure the details you send them are professional and brief. If you send them a huge essay on your life story and why you like magic, this may work against you. It simply may not even be read.
3) If your agent asks that you don’t market to their clients, make sure you NEVER do. Don’t be tempted to hand out a few of your business cards. If that got back to the client, and the agent found out, you will not be used again, and a bad reputation spreads quickly through their professional network.
4) Create a copy of your own promotional website, without any contact details or links, that the agent can send clients to. An agent may use a few of your promotional images and a short description about you, on their own site, but will welcome an ‘agent friendly’ site about you, that will help sell your magic to a client.
5) If you host a show-reel, you need to create a second copy which does not have your contact details featured in it.
6) When doing a gig for an agent, remind the client that you are working for the agent, and ask that they let the agent know how well you did.