I recently wrote a rather obnoxious article about how all that working magicians need is five magic tricks and five clients. The headline is an exaggeration intended to get you into the right mindset to pick and choose your clients with the same care as you choose your magic tricks.
It’s one of the most-read articles on oneahead.com.
Several One Ahead subscribers asked for more details on how they can shift their client base towards one that knows their actual value. I am not a performing magician, but I know a lot of incredibly successful magicians.
I often say that 90% of magicians have never heard of 90% of the most successful magicians. These talented performers make between £100,000 and £1,500,000 per year performing fewer hours than most magicians.
I reached out to six successful working magicians and asked for their advice for aspiring magicians. Six key points came up over and over again. I got a general sense that they all share a similar mindset. If you can fool your brain into sharing their perspective, I think you’ll find many things could fall into place.
Money is not everything. But I think these points are worth considering simply due to the number of hobbyists I know who wish they could turn pro but feel it would be impossible to make a living for themselves and support their family performing magic.
Some advice about things like the college circuit, I chose to gloss over simply because the college circuit isn’t the same outside of America.
Anyways, here’s their advice.
Move To A Big City.
Every successful magician I spoke to said this loud and clear. One magician in NYC said that clients pay them tens of thousands of dollars purely so they can brag to other friends that they booked the most expensive magician in New York.
Ignoring that a higher number of upper-class clients live in the big cities — big cities also hold more people (more potential clients), and they’re better connected to cities and countries via airports (even more potential clients).
The most extensive advice all six of the magicians shared was to strongly consider moving to a big city if you want to make a good living performing magic.
If you said you wanted to be a product manager, people would recommend specific universities far from home and perhaps a move to the tech capital of the world. If you wanted to be a private chef, you might move to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to be stationed in and around all of the super yachts.
It was Ollie Mealing who told me I needed to move to London.
I’m glad I found a way to make that happen.
You Should Do Corporate.
On Substack, the platform I am writing you from, all of the most expensive newsletters are expensible. A newsletter about pop culture and gossip will often charge $5 per month to their subscribers. A newsletter about product management will charge $15 per month, and newsletters that follow the stock or crypto market can charge close to $30 per month.
All the magicians I spoke to said that big money comes from wealthy and corporate clients. These companies are often looking to spend their money. They’re perhaps making money off an event directly or indirectly. The money they pay you is going to be a tax-deductible business expense.
It makes sense. A corporate London launch party for a new car will most certainly have a larger budget to play with than a birthday party in Plymouth.
Some of the magicians I spoke to, who you will likely never have heard about, are charging upwards of $10-30k for corporate shows. So, they said once you move to that big city, you should break your way into corporate work.
Become Locally Famous.
The stage magicians I spoke to all encouraged this idea of local fame. It’s not the easiest of challenges to become world famous. But you can build a significant following in a handful of markets. This takes time. Choose a few US states and focus on conquering them. Learn from the indie music and comedy circuits.
If you return to the same cities every year, you can build that local following and create that local fame. Focus your efforts, and you can make a successful career performing in reasonably sized theatres 100-200 times a year.
That sounds insane, but every stage magician I spoke to focused on specific markets and did the math. One showed me spreadsheet after spreadsheet. They treated their magic career with the respect usually given to an actual business.
Create Productized Packages.
All of the magicians knew what they had to offer. Be that a twenty-minute corporate act, a one-hour walk-around, or an hour-long zoom show. Their services were well-refined and productized.
I am sure they will adapt and add add-ons to what they have on offer. But it’s interesting just how clear-minded they are on this stuff. One told me that 99.999% of people have never spoken to, let alone booked, a magician.