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  1. #1
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    The Pay of a Magician!

    So, I have met a quite a few magicians over my years, and half of them have never performed for pay simply because they think it's not enough money to justify spending their time. Others swear by it and support families off of what they make. My wife doesn't think that a magician can make enough money to support a family unless your the next David Blaine or David Copperfield. Honestly, I'm making this thread to make a point to my wife and other magicians who just think they can't make it performing unless they make it big.

    So I have a few questions I would like to ask to get it cleared up. If they come off offensive I'm sorry and you don't have to answer.

    1. Do you solely rely on performing your magic to support yourself or do you have other means of support?
    2. Do you find performing your magic to be a viable way of living?
    3. What type of gigs do you prefer doing and which nets you the most cash?
    4. On average, what can you make in a day/week/year? Number's preferable. A lot to some is near nothing to someone else.

    As others read thru this also keep in mind cost of living varies from place to place. So if you don't mind post what state you usually perform in.
    Also keep in mind that magic shouldn't be used solely for the purpose of making money, at least in my opinion.
    I enjoy magic and I enjoy bringing it to people. But for some it pays the bills while others it's a hobby.
    What's your outlook?

    Grant

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eendaen View Post
    4. On average, what can you make in a day/week/year? Number's preferable. A lot to some is near nothing to someone else.
    This all depends on the place you work and who you perform for. There is a magician that works at this restaurant and I was talking to him a while back when I was getting into magic. He told me that he could easily get about $60 a night just in tips. Then he got paid something like $75 just to show up for 2 hours. So if you can live off of $135 a night (depending on how many nights you work) then yeah you could probably make a living off of magic.
    I swear, if I hear one more magician complaining about their hands being too small to palm a card...

  3. #3
    ScottBaird's Avatar :: Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eendaen View Post
    1. Do you solely rely on performing your magic to support yourself or do you have other means of support?
    2. Do you find performing your magic to be a viable way of living?
    3. What type of gigs do you prefer doing and which nets you the most cash?
    4. On average, what can you make in a day/week/year? Number's preferable. A lot to some is near nothing to someone else.
    1. Magic is my only form of income, with the exception that I get half-off my rent in the apartment building that I manage. That can be taken as a "job", although there isn't really any transaction of pay, and no certain hours to keep. Magic is the only job I have that pays me cash money.

    2. My lifestyle is very spartan/minimalistic. I don't have a lot of "things", and I can comfortably life off of very little. I have no dependants; no family or anything like that, so I can afford to take risks when it comes to these things. Magic is a viable form of income, provided I keep relatively busy.

    3. I get the most cash from businesses throwing parties. Cocktail parties, poker nights, and fundraisers for known corporations and businesses have the best PROFIT:TIME ratio. They have money, so you can ask for more.

    The interesting thing is that this isn't where you get the money; you get the money from the restaurant gigs and birthday parties, simply because you will do more of these gigs than the larger parties. You can get more at once from private events, but when you look back at your finances on a month-month basis, you'll find the majority of your profit comes from the smaller gigs.

    4. You won't find many pros answering this question with a number, simply because there are busy weeks and slow weeks. It's impossible to put a number to say "this is what I make / week." On a very slow week, where I only do a single night of restaurant magic, I might make $150 (3 hours of strolling in a restaurant for me- tips added on, but as I don't go after them... I won't consider them in the calculation). A relatively busy week, with say 2 nights of restaurant work, a birthday party, and a corporate event- I might be looking at $700 + .

    And $700 isn't bad for roughly 9 or 10 hours of work, at any job.

    Scott.
    Professional Coin Magician and student
    Currently listening to Jay-Z
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eendaen View Post
    My wife doesn't think that a magician can make enough money to support a family unless your the next David Blaine or David Copperfield.

    Grant
    My mom told me the same thing as your wife did. That makes me very confused. I don't know should I become a magician or just think it's a good hobby
    Last edited by KingDSDoom; 04-29-2010 at 09:05 AM.

  5. #5
    Shawn Mullins's Avatar :: Team Ellusionist
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    If you want it bad enough you can do it.

    Anyone can make it they just have to have that drive to succeed. If it's not there they slow down and hinder themselves.

    You have to do these things:

    1. believe you can make it
    2. work your butt off
    3. don't be down on yourself in the start

    It's going to be tough but when you have the name built up in your area it will be a lot easier. I have a good friend who tours and when he needs money he stops by Massachusetts. Basically he landed about 10 solid paying gigs for 2 weeks of being here. That's going to be a pretty good paycheck at the end. Now why is he making it and other aren't? Becuase he works hard at getting those gigs. As Scott said you may work 10-15 hours a week BUT theres also a lot of time put into finding those 10-15 hours.

    This type of job isn't a "get hired" and work this is a constantly trying to find work type of job. You make a very good living off of magic if you have that drive I talked about. That's why passion is a big part of making it... when interviewing Copperfield, Blaine and all those other you never hear "o I was going to be this but I like magic" no... they KNEW they where going to be magicians and they KNEW they where going to be famous. They used that idea dn it drove them to the top.
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  6. #6
    Luis Vega's Avatar :: Elite Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eendaen View Post
    So, I have met a quite a few magicians over my years, and half of them have never performed for pay simply because they think it's not enough money to justify spending their time. Others swear by it and support families off of what they make. My wife doesn't think that a magician can make enough money to support a family unless your the next David Blaine or David Copperfield. Honestly, I'm making this thread to make a point to my wife and other magicians who just think they can't make it performing unless they make it big.

    So I have a few questions I would like to ask to get it cleared up. If they come off offensive I'm sorry and you don't have to answer.

    1. Do you solely rely on performing your magic to support yourself or do you have other means of support?
    2. Do you find performing your magic to be a viable way of living?
    3. What type of gigs do you prefer doing and which nets you the most cash?
    4. On average, what can you make in a day/week/year? Number's preferable. A lot to some is near nothing to someone else.

    As others read thru this also keep in mind cost of living varies from place to place. So if you don't mind post what state you usually perform in.
    Also keep in mind that magic shouldn't be used solely for the purpose of making money, at least in my opinion.
    I enjoy magic and I enjoy bringing it to people. But for some it pays the bills while others it's a hobby.
    What's your outlook?

    Grant

    answers...

    1.-No..I am an architect and usually magic is my second income...
    2.- no at the way I am doing right now...but I am planing to become more marketable the next months..so maybe yeah
    3.- the private parties and the weddings...
    4.- about 300-400 bucks a month...
    The Lost Manifesto 65%...
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  7. #7
    MAK's Avatar Elite Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eendaen View Post

    1. Do you solely rely on performing your magic to support yourself or do you have other means of support?
    2. Do you find performing your magic to be a viable way of living?
    3. What type of gigs do you prefer doing and which nets you the most cash?
    4. On average, what can you make in a day/week/year? Number's preferable. A lot to some is near nothing to someone else.
    1. I do not. I have a full time career/day job (as of now anyway;-P)
    2. If I were to try to make the switch over it'd be difficult to support my current living scenario at first. I have 3 kids, wife, 2 dogs, a house and 2 cars. That said, once that was the focus as opposed to only part time, I'm sure I'd make it quite lucrative.
    3. Restaurant work is steady work, less income than the private gigs, but good and consistent (to an extent, as they can disappear quickly) none-the-less. Corporate gigs pay the most. Private gigs may more the restaurant, but less than corporate. I find them fun, as your dealing with "people" but I also find they bring the most headaches. Not that they bring a lot, but certainly more than either the restaurants or corp gigs. This is due to the personal nature people associate with their private parties. It involves people's family and friends and usually for an event of some kind that is close to their heart. IF things go awry, your more likely to be affected by it here than in the other two venues.
    4. Being a part time thing I don't really calculate the numbers too much. With the restaurant gig alone I garner somewhere around $4500-$5000 a year. Private gigs, figure another $3000 to $5000.

    My pricing is fairly simple. Weekly restaurant work, $100 + dinner a night. That's for 2 hours of table hopping. Private shows, $150 the first hour, $100 each additional. Sponsored (e.g. Corporate/organization run) shows, $250 the first hour $150 each additional. The pricing is usually quite fair, and competitive.

    I do a few charitable events a year as well, donating my time. I, for example will be performing at Masonicare here in CT in the next month for an hour or two, free of charge. Masonicare is a retirement facility (one of the best!) originally for Freemasons and their spouses but is now open to the public as well. I do this as a charitable giving for my Brothers in the Fraternity. I do only a few charity performances a year that I pick or am requested to. It's a good thing and people should do them every so often, however don't get suckered into be the free magician people bank on for their charity events. There are a lot of different opinions on this topic but mine is, free shows get you free shows. There's a way to handle them, but as noted, in limited quantity.

    Likewise, I will give discounts to other charitable events etc. While backing down on your pricing is a bad idea and will hurt you in the long run, as you'll let the clients start pushing you around...you CAN give Discounts for an event(charity, private, corporate). I always ensure they realize I am helping them out to fit their budget and when I give them their receipt/invoice, I always denote the discount and what it SHOULD have been. This let's them know you're willing to work with them, either charitably or for budgetary reasons. With your flexibility in this manner, rather than "accepting" a countered rate you're more likely to (performance pending) not only get their business in the future, but your full rate. Perception perception perception.

    Bit more than you asked for, but I'm wordy at times.
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  8. #8
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    I am full time Military. I have been the whole time that I have been learning and advancing my skills in Magic. I started out 8 years ago enlisting Air Force, and thats when I bought my first DVD from Ellusionist. Ever since then, it has been my main hobby and I feel like I have gained alot by doing magic. I started table hopping in restaurants and had my first paid gig for $100 an hour in 2006, three years after I started. I had a great list of routines set out, and material that was easy to rotate in and out for restaurants. I did my first Stage show in 2007 at Howl at the Moon Piano Bar in Destin, Florida. I split the night with a recurring Hypnotist and was paid $400 for the night for two 30 minute acts, and walk around. NONE of my prices were negotiated by me, they were all from other Magicians who had come before me. Now, that is still what I stick with. If I do a private office party for a Bank, organization on Base/Post or for a Business off base/downtown I stick with $100 an hour, or no more than $400 for the night. For private parties for friends and their friends/families, it is still at a solid $100 an hour. There is never a time where you are going to be lingering around, hopefully, for more than two hours (collectively) doing magic. You would be wasting your time, and material by doing so. The money is always going to be there; you should do your planned material, hand out your information and leave. Don't hold out for more money. You are making alot more per hour than anyone else will ever see. That $200 night just bought you new material, and refills/extas of the things you need.

    With all that being said, if you are thinking about using some progressing monetary show-to-money ratio for how much you should charge, you are short changing yourself, and just being rediculious. If you want to get the groove for doing a routined show down, and are afraid to charge- then don't charge. But once you are confident in yourself and your material, you should be charging for your stuff.
    A esse ad posse valet, a posse ad esse non valet consequentia.

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  9. #9
    mallow81's Avatar :: Elite Member
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    I generally have 2-4 paid shows a month. I charge by person/hour for private parties. For 1 hour it's 1000yen per person. My basic rule of thumb is: how much would it be to take your party to watch a movie? Well, I'm cheaper than that, yet more entertaining. Currently I could not live off only my magic, however I am working towards building my own magic bar. In a few years I hope to be living solely off the money I make at my bar doing magic.
    "It's fun to do the impossible" -Walt Disney

  10. #10
    MAK's Avatar Elite Member
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    Hey, I'm supposed to be the last replier on the posts here. I'm up to 9 now I think
    .:Michael Kelley

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  11. #11
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    Pay

    1. Do you solely rely on performing your magic to support yourself or do you have other means of support?

    Magic is the main source of income for me. I am mostly a mentalist and I do close-up magic as well. I am 43 and have spent most of my life making money as a performer, teacher, and writer of magical stuff.

    2. Do you find performing your magic to be a viable way of living?

    Yes. But, you must approach it as a business. This means that you need to learn book keeping, marketing, and do your own taxes, health insurance, and more. You need to run your magic business in a way that supports your lifestyle.

    3. What type of gigs do you prefer doing and which nets you the most cash?

    Most magicians that make a full time living, unless they are big name TV magicians, do a variety of different types of gigs to make money. I like performing corporate magic, theatrical events, and writing. I wrote a book called Acting for Magicians that have made some nice cash for me over the years and have written books through Wonder Wizards and my own websites. I enjoy performing at restaurants but only do select upscale restaurants that can afford my fee.

    4. On average, what can you make in a day/week/year? Number's preferable. A lot to some is near nothing to someone else.

    I don't feel comfortable given out my yearly income but let us say that you book 2 restaurants at $150 a night ($75 an hour) and you book one show a week for at least $500 a gig you can make at least 41, 600 from performing alone. Both of these fees are low but certainly 41,600 is almost the US median average (50,303) and if a magicians hustles and performs more at Halloween, Company Picnics, and Christmas that should bring the average up to a living wage.

    My suggestion is to name a figure that you can live with. Let us say $100,000 a year. Then list all of the venues that you can perform. For example:

    *birthday parties
    *fraternal organizations
    *restaurants
    *company picnics
    *holiday parties
    (very partial list)

    Then price each type of show according to what could sustain your lifestyle. Do not undercut yourself and do what most magicians do and price your services so low that you cannot make a living doing what you want. For example, I charge a rather high fee for birthday party shows (high in terms of my competitors). Also, I charge a lot more for an hourly fee than do most of my magical friends. Of course, you must have a show that can match those fees. If you want to make a living performing magic then you need to make phone calls every single business day, send out letters, write proper ads and post them, and run your business like that everything. Your show is your product and you are the salesman.

    It is possible to make a living as a magician. But, you need to learn how to make it a business. It is not just about the shows.

    Rich Tenace

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by magicguy66 View Post
    1. Do you solely rely on performing your magic to support yourself or do you have other means of support?

    Magic is the main source of income for me. I am mostly a mentalist and I do close-up magic as well. I am 43 and have spent most of my life making money as a performer, teacher, and writer of magical stuff.

    2. Do you find performing your magic to be a viable way of living?

    Yes. But, you must approach it as a business. This means that you need to learn book keeping, marketing, and do your own taxes, health insurance, and more. You need to run your magic business in a way that supports your lifestyle.

    3. What type of gigs do you prefer doing and which nets you the most cash?

    Most magicians that make a full time living, unless they are big name TV magicians, do a variety of different types of gigs to make money. I like performing corporate magic, theatrical events, and writing. I wrote a book called Acting for Magicians that have made some nice cash for me over the years and have written books through Wonder Wizards and my own websites. I enjoy performing at restaurants but only do select upscale restaurants that can afford my fee.

    4. On average, what can you make in a day/week/year? Number's preferable. A lot to some is near nothing to someone else.

    I don't feel comfortable given out my yearly income but let us say that you book 2 restaurants at $150 a night ($75 an hour) and you book one show a week for at least $500 a gig you can make at least 41, 600 from performing alone. Both of these fees are low but certainly 41,600 is almost the US median average (50,303) and if a magicians hustles and performs more at Halloween, Company Picnics, and Christmas that should bring the average up to a living wage.

    My suggestion is to name a figure that you can live with. Let us say $100,000 a year. Then list all of the venues that you can perform. For example:

    *birthday parties
    *fraternal organizations
    *restaurants
    *company picnics
    *holiday parties
    (very partial list)

    Then price each type of show according to what could sustain your lifestyle. Do not undercut yourself and do what most magicians do and price your services so low that you cannot make a living doing what you want. For example, I charge a rather high fee for birthday party shows (high in terms of my competitors). Also, I charge a lot more for an hourly fee than do most of my magical friends. Of course, you must have a show that can match those fees. If you want to make a living performing magic then you need to make phone calls every single business day, send out letters, write proper ads and post them, and run your business like that everything. Your show is your product and you are the salesman.

    It is possible to make a living as a magician. But, you need to learn how to make it a business. It is not just about the shows.

    Rich Tenace



    Hey, thanks this was really interesting to read but I am 16, what would you advice me? My parents dont like the idea of me working at this age... should I practice more perfect everything?
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  13. #13
    mallow81's Avatar :: Elite Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by MShahbazyan View Post
    Hey, thanks this was really interesting to read but I am 16, what would you advice me? My parents dont like the idea of me working at this age... should I practice more perfect everything?
    I suggest you respect your parents wishes. If they don't want you to work yet, they may have a good reason. You basically answered your own question. Yes, just practice more and perform as much as you can. Increase your skills and performance abilities. Most (not all) people are not ready to be paid magicians at 16. Take your time. Don't rush into it. You and your spectators will be grateful you took your time and really built your show.

    I would also suggest you try to do some volunteer work (if it's ok with your parents). This will give you performing (for strangers) experience and confidence. This is also a good way to get your name out there.
    "It's fun to do the impossible" -Walt Disney

  14. #14
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    As a kid I always wanted to be a magician but never really pursued it. I am now just starting to get into it. Do you think a novice (aged 19) can become good enough to make a good living from magic in a year or two?

    Also to be truly successful, do I have to be able to create my own tricks and mechanisms?

  15. #15
    ChristopherThisse's Avatar :: Moderator
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    Welcome to the forums. As this is your first post, please take a moment to read through the forum rules, here: http://forums.ellusionist.com/showth...n-June-24-2008)

    I'm going to preface this with the fact that I do not live off of magic. However, I have done some paid work and I have an idea of what it would take to do this full time. I'm sure others will step in with much greater experience and insight, but I'll do what I can.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Butler View Post
    As a kid I always wanted to be a magician but never really pursued it. I am now just starting to get into it. Do you think a novice (aged 19) can become good enough to make a good living from magic in a year or two?
    Going from 'novice' magician to 'professional' (as in, magic is your sole income), is going to take more than two years I'm sure. I spent 8 months learning the foundations of card magic alone, and another year developing those skills as well as general performance skills and branching out to mental magic, coins, cups and balls and sponge balls for busking. If I were going off my own skills and resources, I would estimate at least five years before I could consider doing performance as my sole income.

    Also to be truly successful, do I have to be able to create my own tricks and mechanisms?
    Define 'successful'. I've seen performers that use stock material with stock presentations that make a living. That's one form of success. In my opinion, though, if one wishes to be a top notch performer, one should in the least be using unique performances, if not unique tricks and gimmicks. Performing what other people perform, by definition, makes you not unique.
    -Christopher

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