How do people get into magic now?
Are the modern day magic sets getting bought on Kickstarter
Over the past several weeks, I have become an honorary Kickstarter project expert. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform. Solo creators (and occasionally established brands) will bring their dream products to life via a special kind of pre-order campaign. The platform has birthed such products as Exploding Kittens, Cards Against Humanity, JamStick, and more.
It’s really a fascinating process — building a campaign on Kickstarter.
It’s like playing the lottery.
You know you probably will not make millions of dollars. But the very act of taking part forces you to imagine you might. Exploding Kittens raised seven million dollars, so why might my project not do the same?
The chances of success on Kickstarter remain consistently slim.
But you’re forced to have everything in place and set up before launch, so you do sort of need to plan for the best. I’ve had to set up a company, look into VAT in case it goes beyond the UK threshold, and figure out how on earth I’d be able to deliver and ship 100,000 units, all while knowing if I only sell a few thousand, it would still be a miracle.
About 40% of Kickstarter backers jump in on a project in the first 48 hours. Most projects run for 30 days, and it’s not until the final 48 hours that another 30% of backers dive in before it’s all over and too late to back.
Those first 48 hours are crucial.
The majority of your sales take place then.
There are more reasons, too.
Hitting your fundraising goal early triggers Kickstarter to promote your project.
It’s not in their benefit to recommend projects they do not know will succeed — because backing a project that doesn’t come to life is a negative customer experience. So, if your project gets full funding quickly, it’s a lot less risky for them to promote it to their audience.
“Fully funded in 48 hours.”
It also just sounds good.
You want to be able to say this to new potential backers.
That’s what Ellusionist did when their recent project was fully funded on Kickstarter. They’ve made a name for themselves in recent years selling modern magic sets.
They’re a well-established company that could easily fund their own kits. They’re on there to reach new customers and create a great buzz.
Magic? On Kickstarter?
Is it strange?
How do we feel about it?
I first learned about Kickstarter and IndieGoGo (a similar platform) when I backed Fontaine playing cards ten years ago. There are always custom playing cards on the platform.
In fact, Bao and Ondrej, who Kickstarted huge playing card campaigns individually, have been giving me great advice for my campaign.
Many magicians in the industry feel uneasy about a magic brand selling their products in a layperson’s marketplace like Kickstarter. Others realise all magicians start somewhere.
Where do you fall into the mix?
A few years ago, I opted for standard pre-orders instead of Kickstarter for a magic product with a huge minimum first order. Our thinking was that Kickstarter is a platform for laypeople and that our product was primarily for dedicated magicians.
It’s not that we didn’t want laypeople learning about our product.
It was more that we know dedicated magicians, our primary customer, wouldn't laypeople to know about the product.
It was crucial we prioritized their needs; without their support, we would not succeed.
Magic sets are for laypeople, though, right?
Yes, Ellusionist’s magic sets contain some incredible (pro level) magic.
But, it’s not the plastic cups and balls we’re used to seeing in magic sets.
Heck, where do people learn magic now?
I’m in this weird age group who turned into teens at the advent of the internet blowing up. My generation was the last to learn magic from library books and store-bought magic sets.
It feels actually insane to say that when you consider how young I am and how much things have changed in recent years.
I remember when USA’s Penguin Magic Shop added their flat rate shipping option — in which they’d remove the magic DVD from its box and ship it internationally flat in an envelope for cheap (wild they did this before Netflix did the same). My mind was blown at how accessible magic tricks suddenly became.
I can buy magic and only wait ten days for it to arrive!! It’s a miracle.
Today, I can start watching the tutorial before the order confirmation email arrives.
Where do people learn magic now?
Is it YouTube?
Is it TikTok?
I’m assuming that anyone onboarding into magic today would start by searching for it on social media on google. If they had any sense, they’d end up watching some of the high-quality exposure videos on YouTube.
A lot of the exposure videos have good teaching, stick to the basics and are far less intimidating than all these magic shops with thousands of bad magic tricks.
I’m surprised magicians haven’t started kicking off about Oscar Owen yet.
He’s a YouTuber with a million subscribers who reveals and teaches effects that are not his to teach on a daily basis in well-shot and edited videos.
His exposure videos routinely get over 3.5M views.
He’s making money exposing magic tricks.
And he’s doing it in a very clean way.
I haven’t seen one magician discuss his channel.
We’re all too busy getting annoyed at in-industry drama.
We forget about what’s happening beyond our industry.
It makes me feel uneasy watching well-shot exposure videos.
It used to be kids in their bedroom who didn’t know any better.
This Oscar kid should know better.
Maybe he doesn't.
Maybe he makes more money exposing tricks.
He definitely makes more money exposing tricks.
I spoke to a big FB magician about why they expose tricks.
They said at their level, with that many views…
The difference between exposing a trick and not doing so…
Is about $30,000-$50,000 in FB ads revenue.
Maybe Oscar Owen learned magic on YouTube.
Maybe that’s why he thinks it’s okay.
Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a brilliant free resource for new magicians? Just high-quality videos teaching the basics. A double lift, pressure fan, etc. When I first got into magic, this existed as a huge content library produced by Dan and Dave. It’s sad that it’s gone. Hey, maybe if this Kickstarter is a huge success, I’ll make a free resource library for new magicians. Open domain tricks, well credited and taught well.
So, let’s try this.
I’m trusting you to answer the poll that coordinates with your age bracket.
We’ll be able to see how each generation first learned magic tricks. It’s not an exact science — someone in their forties might still be new to magic today. But let’s run with it and see how the results turn out.
If you’re interested in supporting my Kickstarter — I need you to sign up to be notified when it launches here. I appreciate the support, be that in reading my magic musings or backing my passion projects.