Strap in tight and make yourselves comfortable because today's blog will be longer than usual because I have a LOT to say and I'm making a big announcement! That's right, no "wait for 21 days," no count down, nothing. It's been something I've been considering for (literally) years now.
Before I get to that, I want to thank everyone for their kind comments on my past issue of "Cause & Effects," in which I introduced a way to 'zero in' on your audiences and connect with them in ways that had nothing to do with magic. Fun stuff! Signing up for the monthly ezine is FREE by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second quick announcement (before the big one) is that I have a lot of stuff I'm looking to find a home for in regards to magic. Shoot me an email at email@example.com and I'll send you the list of goodies I'm getting rid of. Most of it is DVDs and smaller effects - stuff I've been intending to work on for years and never got around to it. It's all great stuff, but I just want to focus my efforts. I'm only adding three things to my set lists this year - two are Paul Romhany products (one is this week's review) and the third is a custom prop Nick Wenger is building for me. No unreasonable offer for this stuff will be refused as I just want to clear space.
OK, here's the big announcement...
This summer, I am hosting a special weekend seminar/training/pow-wow EXCLUSIVELY on the subject of performing in schools. First, let me make my case as to why schools are one of the BEST markets out there, then secondly, why I'm even doing this, and finally, I'll give you the dates, details, etc.
First, I've been a school guy for 15 years and a school specialist for about the last 10 years. I'm going to talk about my experiences here, NOT to brag (because there's a ton of people out there making a LOT more money than me) but merely to back up what I'm claiming.
For the last eight years, my business has seen incredible growth that I attribute mostly to school shows being so stable. When the US economy went into the toilet a couple of years ago, my income was going up each year, with 2010 being my best year ever, and this was after several conversations with corporate guys and most told me their businesses dropped out badly. (I'm sure many others did great - I'm just talking about the ones I spoke with.)
Anyway, schools will always have grant/PTA/other sources of funding.
Now here's why I'm offering this training...I'm very serious when I say that I want to stay home more often. The hypnosis training I talked about last week was really an incredible experience and while I have ZERO plans to end my performing career, I also do want to start using hypnosis to help people. That means less time on the road...more time with Wifey and our two doggies, Frodo & Sophie.
Another reason is...and this may sound corny, but I really want to pass on what I learned over the years. Quite frankly, there are a lot of BAD magicians out there working for money. School shows are incredibly fun, but if more and more bad magicians keep mucking it up, it's going to hurt the market.
I want school shows to be my legacy. There are roughly a zillion schools in the US and Canada and zillions more in other countries, so I know the work can be out there and since I can't do it all, I want to educate those looking to get in to the market so they do it the RIGHT way.
Here's just some of what I'm going to cover in this live event:
- blocking on stage
- Stage equipment to "fill" the stage
- The challenges it took me years to learn
- The BIG argument AGAINST "pack flat, play big"
- performance material for stage
- who's who in schools...and why it matters
- payment issues
- Show structure
- Openers & closers
- Humor: Do's & Don't's
- subject matter for educational shows
- PA systems
- Grade levels and why it affects your shows
- Tricks to avoid
- Working with teachers
- Working for Parent-Teacher groups
- The "business" side: contracts, W-9's (in the US) and more
- how to work with kids in schools
- several critical things you must NOT do in schools
- The language of schools
- Character Education topics
- How to GET the gigs
- Handling phone calls (NOT cold calling)
- Referral programs
- Working with districts (and why it's awesome)
- What you MUST include on your demo video
- What you must NOT include on your demo video
- Promo Packages - what to include, what not to include
- A really slick thing to give to your clients
- How to get your clients to book shows for you!!!
- To Discount or Not to Discount
- Vendor numbers, PO numbers and other headaches
- Phone message advice for answering machines
- School sound systems
- A super source for FREE lists of schools!!!!!!!
- Direct mail letters
- Direct mail postcards
- School policies
- Generating leads online
- Key website advice
- Key email advice
- Different performing scenarios you can expect in schools
- Why the phys ed teacher must be your friend!
- Maximum length for set-up/break-down and why it's so important!
- Maximizing your day
- Back-to-Back daytime assemblies
- A sneaky way to get killer testimonial letters
- The mindsets of the 'key players' in schools
- What clients REALLY want (but they never tell you)
- Tax Deductions (US workers)
- Show introductions
- Music for your shows
- The most CRITICAL thing you MUST do during EACH AND EVERY school show!
- The mindset of kids in schools and why 400 kids in a school are so much easier than 10-15 kids at a birthday party
- US performers working in Canada (This is huge! As a US citizen, I work legally in Canada and pay NO GST taxes, require ZERO work permits, etc. I lay it all out for US performers wanting to perform in Canada and what you can and canNOT do)
That's just for STARTERS, right off the top of my head of some of the key topics. In short, you will understand all aspects of performing in schools, you will understand all aspects of working in schools, the business side, and I will share a TON of booking secrets I've NEVER shared anywhere. (And I do ZERO cold calling!)
This is going to be an incredible, eye-opening weekend into one of the most stable markets in magic.
The School Magic Summit will be held in Niagara Falls, NY from July 15- 17th. July 15 and 16 will be the business side of schools, marketing etc for primary or elementary school shows, roughly grades K-6, although I will touch upon some aspects of private/charter schools where often the grades are K-8 or PreK - 8.
The third day, July 17th, will focus entirely on performing in high schools, grades 9-12 typically. In other words, teens.
Because I know not everyone wants to perform for teens, I've decided to let you choose. The investment for the two-day main Summit (July 15 & 16) will be $995. If you want to attend the July 17 high school day, the total fee will be $1295.
"But That's Not All!"
To make it more enticing, everyone attending will receive the following three bonuses:
"The Perfect Way To End Children's Shows!" - Retail Value: $97.00. This is CRITICAL for school work. Here's the product link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=12136
"How To Make $1000 in ONE Magic Show" - Retail Value: $179.95. I've been using this for years and it rocks...and it's designed primarily for school show performers! Link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=12457
"How To Make A Ton Of Money Performing In Schools" - Retail Value: $299.95. The title says it all, and while I get into a great deal more detail at the Summit, including online work, this system really blows the lid off of the school market...and I hand you THREE of my best-selling school shows. The link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=9533
These three courses total over $550 in retail value (and my stuff never goes on sale!) so over half of the investment is covered in FREE stuff!
In addition, you'll get a great big fat workbook that we'll spend the time going through. You can also ask me tons of questions after each session and pick my brain clean.
Oh, and this is super-important: I am NOT lining up a ton of guest speakers who are going to "pitch" you on their latest product. This is all about me giving you information. A fellow school performer friend of mine may come up to assist me as he's been in the game a LONG time too (plus he builds the BEST performing tables!)
To get further information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm limiting the class to just 20 attendees so I can really focus and answer any questions. Act fast, because I don't offer classes like this and do not know if I'll do another one. I'm willing to pass along 15 years' experience and help anyone who wants it.
Now, on to this week's review...Artists' Dream by Paul Romhany. It's available for $495. Here's the Hocus Pocus link:http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=7325
ROUTINE: The magician gets a volunteer onstage and into a chair. After several comedy drawing 'renditions' of the volunteers, the magician gives the volunteer a glass of milk to drink. After the milk is all gone, the magician holds the glass up to the volunteer's mouth...when the milk is promptly dumped back into the glass! After prodding by the magician, the volunteer drinks it again...and the milk is 'poured' out of the volunteer's ears!
WHAT YOU GET: An extremely well-made glass gimmick that is durable and made to last. I know Paul travels a ton, so he wants this to last. You also receive the comedic drawings in vinyl, so they'll last. You receive a DVD with NINE different performances as well as an audio CD with custom music on it.
QUALITY: Like I said earlier, this stuff is built to last. Kudos to Paul for putting out tough, durable props. Looking at the glass gimmick, I can only wonder what a pain in the butt it is to get this made! I especially love the custom music for the routine. So much of the royalty-free music out there just sounds bad to me, but this CD is great. The first time I saw the trailer, I thought, "I hope that's the music included with the set." It's whimsical, fun and most importantly sounds like real music. No offense to the composers of past custom music tracks for magicians, but I just didn't care for most of what I've heard that's royalty-free.
DIFFICULTY: This is an extremely simple routine and if you perform it as Paul does (silently) you needn't say a word, so literally the only 'tough' part of the routine is blocking! An easy 1 out of 10.
INSTRUCTION: While this routine is dead-easy, Paul still does a thorough job of walking you through the routine as well as a few additional gags and ideas to make the routine even stronger. I can't think of a single thing that he left out. The fact that the routine is so easy to do would have led any number of other people to phone it in when it came to the instructions but not Paul. I really appreciate the fact that he put NINE different performances on the DVD. For someone like me who always wonders, "Will this play in the real world?" This question was clearly answered by Paul's live performances. Well done. 10 out of 10.
ANGLES: This is a stage piece and the 'secret' to the drink trick part might be revealed if your audience is too close, so I recommend this from stage only, a distance of 5 feet or so from the front row. As for angles themselves, you could probably do this surrounded.
MARKET: I believe this is such a strong routine for families and adult shows because it's an interactive routine. The drawings might go over some kids' heads, so I probably will not be using this for daycares/child care centers, but this will go right into my school shows, particularly my family night shows.
MY THOUGHTS: If you've seen the trailer, you know most of the routine, so in that regard, kudos to Paul for letting prospective buyers know what they're receiving. I can see some people looking at this and thinking, "well, that doesn't look all that amazing," and perhaps it's not a mindblower, but it's certainly a worker for the real world. Paul told me that this is his favorite thing to perform out of everything he does and I can see why.
This is comedy, a series of sight gags, and I can see audiences being totally charmed by this. In some ways, this may be a product that working pros, seasoned by years of earning their keep in the trenches, appreciating such a routine, knowing it's been fine-tuned by a pro who earns it each night from a different audience.
I can also see someone relatively new to magic seeing this and thinking, "Well, that's not nearly as amazing as --INSERT TRICK HERE."
As I get older, I continually re-evaluate my magic and what I keep in my acts and what I toss, and more and more, I'm going for the fun stuff. Although I certainly want to keep the secrets of magic as secrets to my audiences, my first duty is to entertain the audience and therefore, to me, this routine is a no-brainer. I'm giving it a 10 out of 10.
Next Week: Paul Romhany Month concludes with Dream Prediction Lite.
Upcoming Weeks: The Nomad Pad, Retro-Gravity, Get Nyman DVDs, Larry Becker's Russian Roulette and more!
Til next time....