Assuming we confine the discussion of the source of making money to just performing shows, there are really only two ways for an entertainer to make more money.
- Do More Shows
- Get More Money for Each Show You Do
If you want to make more money, you try to book more shows. It is logical and intuitive and this is what most entertainers work towards.
Like most entertainers, at the beginning of my professional career, I was hungry to book as many shows as possible in order to make more money. And that is just what I did, I tried to book as many shows as possible. However, as my career developed and I evolved as a professional entertainer, my business philosophy changed.
The goal shifted from trying to get as many shows as possible to getting more money for each show I do. This approach advocates that you focus on getting high value shows that pay more. The only way to achieve this goal is by creating a differentiated quality product with high value in a niche market.
IDENTIFY A NICHE MARKET
As a magician or illusionist, your show or act is fundamental and is your defining quality. However, as a commercial entertainer who performs for money, the right approach is to first examine your market viability and potential business opportunities.
It is the understanding of your market opportunities that guides the creation, presentation and marketing of your product. Most entertainers work the other way around.
The most common approach is for an entertainer to work on an act first and then try to find work with the act. This is the traditional way.
The problem with this approach is that there is a large possibility, especially in today’s market, that you might have an excellent act but no viable market to perform it in. You want a market that will give the desired financial returns for all the time, effort and skill required to perform the act.
This is one reason why some entertainers are not as successful as they can be or why some businesses fail in general. They fail to research the market and end up creating a product that does not have a place in the market or does not add great value to the market.
HAVE A DIFFERENTIATED QUALITY SHOW OR ACT
Only after identifying a viable market should you look at the product you can offer this market.
Having a quality product is a “given”. This means it is a basic expectation and the minimum standard needed. So even if you have a quality product, in order to book higher value shows, it is not good enough.
You must have a differentiated quality product. It is good to be great but great to be different.
Differentiating your product is one of the most effective ways of increasing your value in the eyes of consumers and the market; which directly increases your performance fee. Therefore, being different is essential for being able to secure higher value shows.
Some entertainers have it; that natural artist eye and performance flair that gives them the coveted ability to create fresh new artistic products. This can be referred to as pure creativity.
The good news is that being different does not mean you have be a pure creative artist. You can be different in any way that is of value in the marketplace.
You can be innovative in the way you present an act, apply your art to a specific market, introduce your art to untapped markets or even market yourself.
The most important thing is to identify what makes you different.
If you cannot seem to find anything that makes you inherently different, you need to identify an area that you can work on to make yourself different.
MARKET YOUR SHOW OR ACT WITH A STRATEGY
To be highly successful, you need more than just good marketing. You must have a marketing strategy to guide your tools and tactics. A marketing strategy starts with trying to create a position you can own in a market, also known as Positioning.
Jack Trout and Al Ries introduced the concept of positioning in the late seventies/ early eighties. Although the approaches to the concept have been refined over the years, the basic concept remains the same.
Positioning deals with creating a ‘position’ for your business in the minds of the consumers. It has got to do with communicating a ‘position’ that comprises of your brand values and perceptions that you want consumers to have about your business.
Successful positioning means making your name/ business synonymous with a particular product category. When you think of creative tech devices, you think of Apple. When you think of fried chicken, you think of KFC. When you think of hamburgers, you think of McDonald’s.
Your positioning is personified by your brand and image and your positioning strategy is king. It dictates what marketing tools to use and how they are used (tactics). And the tools and tactics you use strengthen your position in the minds of the consumers. Different niche markets will require different marketing tools and tactics to effectively sell your product and brand.
There is no cookie-cutter approach that can be applied to all markets. However, your positioning strategy and niche market will determine which tools and tactics to use at the right time.
DEVELOPING ADDITIONAL STREAMS OF INCOME
Besides working on securing more money for each show that you do, you can also make more money by developing additional income streams.
As a magician or illusionist, your primary income is derived from your booking and performing shows. Your show is dependent on you being physically present to create the product. That means, if unforeseen circumstances prevent you from performing or you fall ill, get injured, hospitalized or just want to take a vacation to recharge, your active income as a magician or illusionist will stop. Developing other income streams will help tide you over without having to dip into your savings.
One point that I think is very important is that whatever income stream you develop, it should complement your profession as a magician or illusionist. It should not distract or affect the quality or continued innovation of your main shows. The additional streams of income should also complement your market.
For example, if you are an illusionist who works college shows, I don’t think baking cakes to sell is necessarily a good stream of income to develop. However, if you are a kids magician who specializes in children’s birthday parties, a side business of selling cakes is a great idea as it can complement your primary income as a kids entertainer and shares the same market. This allows each income stream to contribute to building your overall brand.
Some entertainers recommend that you find sales commission-driven jobs such as being a property agent, sales person or sign up for multi-level marketing programs. While they can provide an alternative income stream, my personal opinion is that these can distract you from your art and focus.
In creative fields especially, there is a need to be immersed in your craft if you want to reach a high level of proficiency, expertise and creativity. Your mind and energy have to be focused on your art or industry, even if it might be on different aspects of your field.
Another reason why I am a proponent of developing an additional stream of income based on your primary field or market is that the time, effort and money you spend on this income stream will have a direct positive impact on you as a magician or illusionist.
Here are a couple of extra income ideas for magicians and illusionists.
Back of Room Sales
The most common way you can create an additional stream of income is to sell video or audio content of your magic or illusion show. This allows the audience to buy a souvenir of your performance or watch at home.
You can also produce magic tricks or sets with your branding on the packaging. It is even better if you feature a trick you are selling in your show to entice people to buy it.
This is a very popular income stream that a lot of entertainers across fields do in their non-performing time. I know many musicians, dancers and actors who work as teachers in schools in a part-time position.
As an illusionist or magician, you can do them same by teaching magic classes. This can be in the form of offering private one-on-one lessons or conducting classes in community centers, colleges and social clubs.
Write a Book/ Video Content
If you have any original magic ideas or have thoughts on various aspects of magic or illusion, you can consider writing and publishing a book.
If you do not think you have any original inventions or creations to share, don’t worry. Original content need not just be in the form of inventions or creations.
Here are some ideas of topics that you can write on:
- Experiences as a magician or illusionist in general
- Experiences as a magician or illusionist specific to your geographical region, gender, age group, race or demographic
- How-to knowledge on any aspect of being a magician or illusionist or performing a show
- Business, marketing, PR and sales strategies or tactics for your show
- Insights on using new technology to sell, market or share your show or act
- Profiles or interviews with successful magicians or illusionists
If you prefer, instead of writing, you can release video content in the form on a streaming video or DVD.
Sell Products to Fellow Magicians & Illusionists
If you have any original inventions such as equipment or instruction books and videos, you can sell it to fellow magicians and illusionists. Just be sure you do not sell “crap” and try to sell something just to make some extra cash.
Even if you do not create your own products, you can source and sell other products to fellow magicians. If you take the time to source for quality products that are relevant to magicians, you can create value to the marketplace and earn extra income.
If you are interested in making more than just money as a magician or illusionist, I share how to create value to book more shows that pay more and also discuss how to generate additional income streams. I also share my “income triangle” concept in my book “The Showbiz Master Plan: A Blueprint for Building a Successful Live Entertainment Career”.