Magic is in a period of contraction?

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby Guest » 07/28/05 06:01 AM

On p. 10 of the August 2005 issue of Genii, Mr. Kaufman states:

Our craft has been in a period of contraction for years [] not enough young people are becoming involved in our field.

I am surprised by these comments.

Arent there more and more DVDs, books and magic effects being released every month? Much more than 10 or 20 years ago I would imagine.

What about the Street Magic phase? Didnt this attract a lot of new people to magic? Just look at ellusionist.com which tailors to new magicians who most likely discovered magic through David Blaine.

I have also heard that video series such as the Easy to Master Card Miracles have allowed many young people to jump into card magic with a head start. Havent these sold tens of thousands of copies?

What about the plethora of online magic stores? Arent they supplying a growing demand for magic?

Hasnt Jim Steinmeyer published a couple of books on magic history aimed at the general public? Surely, only those interested in magic would purchase these.

There seems to be a magic convention every few weeks somewhere.

I dont mean to contradict Mr. Kaufmans comments. Surely he knows a lot more about what is going on in the world of magic than me. However, as a magic enthusiast, I do not perceive things being as bleak.

Could someone share some light on this issue?
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Postby Eric Rose » 07/28/05 06:43 AM

The marketing of magic products to magicians and hobbyists has exploded in the past few years. The market for magicians serving the general public has contracted.

It's very easy to bring new products (especially DVDs / e-books) to market these days. In fact, it's too easy. There used to be a natural barrier to market that kept out a great deal of the dreck. Few would dare risk their capital to commit to a product that wasn't likely to succeed. Now, with home publishing and DVD authoring, the capital requirements are eliminated. That barrier is gone and there is more dreck than ever. In just the past 4 weeks over 60 new products have been posted at the major distributor serving magic shops. That's 2 new products a day!

On top of the proliferation of products, the barrier to opening a store has been taken away with the internet. Put these two innovations together and you get the truest application of "caveat emptor" that I know of. So, yes, within magic, there has been a huge expansion.

However, look outside the bounds of the craft to the lay public, the market (and general interest) is waning. Many long-standing, and some new, magic venues have died. Wizardz, Illusions, Magic Moments, Magic & Mischief, etc. I was talking about restaurant magic with a franchise owner of a major chain and he told me that company policy had recently changed to eliminate magicians, balloon artists and clowns. The reason was that market research showed that their patrons didn't like it. Yikes! As the market outside of magic contracts, so does the interest of newcomers to enter the craft.

I think overall magic is contracting, but that's the natural cycle. It weeds out that dreck, both in products and performers, and what makes it through is better and stronger than before. Quite an exciting phase to be in.

Just my opinion, worth what you paid for it.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/28/05 07:33 AM

As a hobby it's about what it always was, an amusing diversion.

As a craft, it's growing at about the same rate as it always has, a few good works every few years by a few people who invent new things.

As a technology it's growing at about the same rate as a craft, though we have about lost two generations of machinists. When was the last time you could easily obtain things like a lightning pull or Thornton windlass?

Agreed our literature seems a bit cluttered with student level exercises and limited use products. Not to worry, time will sort that stuff out. On the good side, we do have some remarkable publishing projects with significant results. We have salvaged some of the works by Germaine, Robert-Houdin, Hofzinser and several other historical notables into fine quality books. That is progress.

Magic itself will be fine. Our little market of books and tricks and props will likely expand and contract as our culture's want for live personal entertainment expands and contracts.
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 07/28/05 07:45 AM

SEA-CHANGE CITY:

Eric Rose: "However, look outside the bounds of the craft to the lay public, the market (and general interest) is waning. Many long-standing, and some new, magic venues have died. Wizardz, Illusions, Magic Moments, Magic & Mischief, etc. I was talking about restaurant magic with a franchise owner of a major chain and he told me that company policy had recently changed to eliminate magicians, balloon artists and clowns. The reason was that market research showed that their patrons didn't like it. Yikes! As the market outside of magic contracts, so does the interest of newcomers to enter the craft.

I think overall magic is contracting, but that's the natural cycle. It weeds out that dreck, both in products and performers, and what makes it through is better and stronger than before. Quite an exciting phase to be in."

I concur with these observations. Overall magic is again finding its mean level. If you were to examine the average age of club members across America you would see, relatively speaking, fewer young people. There are roughly 60 active members of the IBM and SAM in the New Orleans area and there are less than 10 under the age of 30. The local SYM is inactive due to no members. I started a Young Magicians Guild with the regional library system here to recruit enthusiasts to reactivate the SYM. I discovered that youngsters were interested in learning about and watching magic, but did not have sustained interest in becoming a magician. Out of 25 participants, only 2 caught the bug. Perhaps too youngsters are gravitating to other hobbies and pastimes? A magic set cannot compete with Play Stations.

In New Orleans there is no old-style magic shop. There is only Magic Masters and Harry Andersons store. There are no restaurant magicians. There are only a few street magicians who fade in and out of the French Quarter. There are 3-4 magicians performing birthday parties, school shows, and occasional walk-around gigs, and they are complaining that the number of shows they do are declining. There are no bar magicians.

Part of this may be due to changing tastes and the different style of performance (Blaine, Angel)? The public may have seen too many illusionists of the Vegas-type and big magic shows pale next to Cirque Solieu?

Yes, dreck abounds. There are a ton of products. There are more magic conventions. However, Im skeptical about the net effect and net profit of all this

I agree that it is an exciting, curious phase, but I still think we are in the middle of a sea-change. However, I'm optimistic about the direction the SAM is moving...

Onward...
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Postby magicam » 07/28/05 08:48 AM

Anent the "aging of the group" observation, I have found, alas, the same trend in the ranks of historians and collectors. Clay
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Postby Bill Mullins » 07/28/05 01:32 PM

Originally posted by Jon Racherbaumer:
In New Orleans there is no old-style magic shop. There is only Magic Masters and Harry Andersons store. There are no restaurant magicians.
A city the size of New Orleans has _no_ restaurant magicians? Wow.
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Postby Pete Biro » 07/28/05 02:05 PM

are there any restaurants in the big eazy? Will be going there early in 2006.
Stay tooned.
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Postby Michael Kamen » 07/28/05 05:58 PM

some of the best food you'll ever eat anywhere too.
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 07/29/05 10:17 AM

Some say that food in the Big Easy is better than sex. Natives say, "On the off chance that it isn't, we often combine the two...especially during Mardi Gras."

Yes, Pete, we have MORE than red beans and rice and Lucky Dogs. C/mon down....

(burp)
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Postby Brian Morton » 07/29/05 10:38 AM

Pete Biro writes:
are there any restaurants in the big eazy?
Pete,

Are you kidding? International man o' the world that you are, and you've never eaten in N.O.? Say it ain't so?

The food in N'Awlins is so good and so plentiful, they hand you the ten pounds you'll gain in a bag right as you step off the plane (The bag says, "To Be Placed On Your Posterior Before Departure"). Jacques Imo's. Commander's Palace. Bayona's. Emeril's. Holy cow -- you can eat your way across town and never get tired!

Hie thee off to the Big Easy and prepare to eat! (And snag me a few lbs. of boiled crawfish from the French Market Cafe while you're at it!

brian :cool:
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Postby Bill Mullins » 07/29/05 01:03 PM

Originally posted by Jon Racherbaumer:
Some say that food in the Big Easy is better than sex.
Perhaps they aren't doing the sex properly. Tab A goes in Slot B.
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Postby Guest » 07/29/05 02:42 PM

Originally posted by Bill Mullins:
Originally posted by Jon Racherbaumer:
[b] Some say that food in the Big Easy is better than sex.
Perhaps they aren't doing the sex properly. Tab A goes in Slot B. [/b]
Or perhaps we're doing food incorrectly
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