The three words that need to disappear from magic
Conjurer's Coffee Break - Episode 016
- There's three words we need to banish from within the magic industry.
- "LOW FEE ALERT"
- I'm a member of a popular magic gig sharing group on facebook.
- Now, I don't post too many events on there as I have good connections with local performers who I know and trust, but I do see the posts others make, and this phrase really grinds my gears.
- Low fee alert.
- I'm sorry, but I don't get it.
- If the fee is too low, why are you passing it on?
- I said last week, that you have to be 100% happy with the fee you quote, and surely that also applies to the events you pass on too.
- The argument that it might suit someone else who's willing to work for a lower fee, doesn't apply when I see events like:
- 2 hours, Saturday night, central London. Unfortunately they only have £150.
- Has anybody considered saying to the client, I'm sorry, but that's not the going rate for a magician.
- I just said this to a client recently.
- You know, I can't blame the client for not knowing how much they should be expecting to pay.
- They've probably never hired a magician before.
- But it's our job to help them make the right decision. We're the experts, right?
- Don't just post the low gig because someone will fill it, and you might get a small kickback.
- That's not serving the client.
- Always serve the client's needs first!
- I mentioned this in the first episode, that I see myself as a representative of magic.
- And I want all my clients to have the best experience, even if that means that on some occasions they can't afford a magician.
- Yes sometimes I add that they might get a beginner whose local, but for a corporate event, or a wedding or even a milestone birthday party, the client should be paying for a professional, and I will explain that to them.
- And in case you're still unsure how to do that, I'm quoting this almost word for word from a stand up comedy group, that I'm also part of.
- I'm sorry, but the standard fee for something like this would be two, three, ten times what you've suggested. You would have a far better evening putting that money behind the bar for everyone, rather than going ahead with a less than professional magician / comedian.
- I mean, come on we all know how awkward it is watching a poor comedian. They're out of their depth and you start to feel sorry for them.
- It's the same with magicians.
- Passing on gigs that are too low, is also not serving the magic industry either.
- If we want to rid magic of hacky magicians who ignore or even insult their audience then we have to set higher standards.
- At the very least, that should be to only pass on work that you feel has a fair fee attached to it.
- 2 hours, Saturday night, central London. £400 minimum, surely?
- The weekend before Christmas, add another £100.
- But hey, what about those who aren't at your level. Don't you want to help them out?
- Yes, absolutley, but like I said last week, those starting out should be looking at charity events, events for friends etc...
- 30 minutes at a WI meeting, 6pm on a Tuesday. £50. Perfect for a beginner.
- 2 hours, at an informal family party on a Thursday night. £200.
- Perfect for a semi-pro, or someone a year or two into turning pro.
- It's difficult, I know. There are many variables.
- But, maybe we just need to think before we hit submit.
- Is this fee too low for what the client is asking for?
- If so, no magician should do it, and we shouldn't perpetuate it.
- We should be honest with the client, and explain their budget is off the mark.
- Oh and if you don't know, ask someone who does.
- I am pretty well connected to others in our industry, that I can send them a quick message to say, "I have been asked to do... but I have no idea how much I should ask for. What do you think?"
- As I mentioned at the start of this episode, I pass a fair bit of work to colleagues of mine.
- Not through facebook groups, but through personal connections.
- On most occasions, I ask that they contact the client directly and quote for the services, but I hope that on that times that a fee has been discussed with the client in advance, none of those performers would say that I have passed them something that needs to be labelled low fee alert.
- Let's make that phrase disappear.
- How do you deal with someone saying they only have a very very small budget?
- Let me know, if you agree with me or not in the comments for this episode which you can find via edsumner.com/magicians
- Don't forget to share this episode and the others in this podcast with friends, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from.
- Until next time, thanks for listening.
Additional Show Notes
- There will always be a range of circumstances that lead to an event having a lower budget. That's 100% fine, but what I'm trying to get across here, is that if you think the fee is too low, others probably will too.
- Of course, you don't have to take the gig, but I'm concerned there seems to be an over emphasis in some circles of magic, on being busy, rather than providing a quality performance.
- I'm also aware that there are going to be some people who have lower outgoings due to living in a different area, or whatever. That's fine, but I wonder sometimes if that's used as an excuse to themselves not to charge what they are really worth.
- At the end of the day, raising your prices is difficult, because it comes with increased rejection.
- Maybe that's what we need to get more comfortable with. Saying "No, this one isn't for me."
- Anyway, that concludes a few weeks worth of talking about pricing. I doubt I have all the answers, but as ever, hopefully there are some "jumping off points" there for you. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments.
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