How much does the average Magician make annually?

Post topics about the business side of magic.

Postby Steve Cobb » 06/30/11 05:11 PM

I know this is a loaded question, but one I have been thinking about for a long time. With the exception of David Copperfield, Criss Angel,P&T, Derren Brown and the handful of other superstar Magicians. Is their anyone out there who can give me a realistic number. I will even narrow it down to large metropolitan areas of the U.S. I don't want a number of what the average was 5-10 years ago, but presently. I'm familiar with all the old jokes like the difference between a Magician and a pizza etc. I just want a realistic range for a professional restaurant, trade show or close up performer that has been doing this work professionally for the past 5 years or more. Thank you in advance.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 06/30/11 05:15 PM

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Postby Scott Burton » 07/07/11 10:34 PM

Why does it matter? What someone else makes (or the average of many) has essentially (or likely literally) nothing to do with what you can do or ultimately will do.

It's like asking "what does the typical small-business owner make annually?". You'll get the ones who are bankrupt and those who make millions. In the magician world, you'll get the same range (we are small business owners after all).

Figure out what you need to make to create the lifestyle you desire. Can you create a business plan to make this goal a reality? It's all about what you desire for your life and not what others may or may not be doing.
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Postby Bill Duncan » 07/08/11 02:00 AM

I would think it's useful to know what it is possible to make when creating a business plan.

I recall a professional magician who is pretty well known telling me about a booking he did with a number of other magicians. He was very happy about his fee until one of the older fellows with a few TV appearances under his belt mentioned his fee. It was three or four times what the younger fellow got.

While asking what the average small business owner makes may be a foolish question asking, what the average fast food franchise owner makes is probably a good idea. Assuming you're interested in selling hambugers...
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Postby Scott Burton » 07/08/11 08:01 AM

I agree that if you are looking to buy a fast food franchise, such a number would be useful. Franchise systems are extremely formulaic: you cannot operate outside of the strict manual, your product is exactly the same as others, served in the same way, store design exactly the same as others, and you share the same advertising. I would say that you need to ask the number for the specific franchise (McDonalds for example) and not all in general. Yes, this number is needed when considering purchasing such a franchise. Even with this said, location can still affect the number greatly.

The entertainment business, I would argue, is very different. The success or failure of your magic venture is tied directly to the owner/operators performance skills and business abilities.

This is just my opinion and perhaps I'm wrong. To me, knowing that the average magician makes has no bearing on my decisions.
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Postby El Harvey Oswald » 07/08/11 10:58 AM

"Why does it matter? What someone else makes (or the average of many) has essentially (or likely literally) nothing to do with what you can do or ultimately will do."

superb point; it's completely irrelevant to have any understanding of the mid-range income prospects for anything in the "entertainment business."
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Postby Harry Lorayne » 07/12/11 12:50 PM

I don't agree. Many years ago I was involved in doing trade shows for some of the top industries in the country - U. S. Steel mostly - also GE, Litton Industries and so on. One of my magic friends around that time was trying to "make it" in magic - I won't mention names, he's no longer with us.
Anyway, one day he excitedly told me - "Harry, I just got a trade show - I'm getting $200.00 for three days work!" I said, "Gee, , I get that as per diem - every day; that aside from my regular pay. I think you should have held out for more. I don't think this will help others in the trade show area."
Sure enough, perhaps a week later, I got a call from someone I knew in the trade show area(again, I won't mention names; he, too, is no longer with us) saying, "I was booking a trade show, mentioned my normal fee and was told 'Gee, so and so is doing it for $200.00 total.' This is not good."
I'm paraphrasing, of course, but that's the basic story. Accepting fees that are much less than the norm does nobody any good. I've written about this specific incident before and i remember saying that, of course, I do understand the basics. The $200 the first guy asked/accepted was of utmost importance - he needed the money. I understand that, of course, but he should have tried for more, asked around (somebody like me, at that time) to find out what was the "norm" or average. Anyway...
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Postby El Harvey Oswald » 07/12/11 05:46 PM

well said, HL. it's impossible to get paid all that there's a willingness to pay you unless the information -- how much others are being paid -- is available and discussed. that how much magicians are paid is "tied directly to the owner/operators performance skills and business abilities" is true enough. but it doesn't remotely imply that it's a good idea to adopt an irrational indifference to how much others are being paid. roughly, if your "performance skills and business abilities" are greater than someone else's, you have a basis for asking for more; if you're less skilled, the implication is equally obvious. without that information, though, you're bargaining in a vacuum (which, of course, those who pay you are not).
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Postby Scott Burton » 07/13/11 07:33 AM

Hi Harry,
I agree with you: great to know what others are charging in a specific niche on a per-gig basis (especially for a less-geographically influenced market such as trade shows). This can help in positioning oneself appropriately in the marketplace.
However, the poster wanted to know about average annual income for general classifications of magicians. Such an answer would be so general that it's usefulness would be little to none.

What if I said that, for example, I made $60,000 a year (just a made up number for example) but failed to mention that I only work one weekend a year for one client's trade show while vacationing the other 364 days a year (again, made up)? I guess $60,000 a year wouldn't be that bad after all if you don't mind the lifestyle!
Perhaps I make $60,000 a year by working 600 birthday parties a year at $100 a gig (again, made up).
I suggest that both the above situations are, if fact, very plausible and likely being lived by many magicians out there.
Saying magicians make $60,000 on average would help a person do...what?

There are so many approaches to this business that a person could practically make up their own formula for their desired level of success.

Perhaps the original poster would want to re-post their question but make it more specific?
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Postby Steve Cobb » 07/14/11 12:12 AM

Thank you all for your answers. I was looking for a realistic ballpark range of income but realize my question was too broad.
My thinking was it would be extremely difficult in the current economic climate for someone wanting to start out in say "trade shows"
From my perspective there just doesn't seem to be nearly as many trade shows as there was 10-20 years ago. I have attended and exhibited in probably 100+ trade shows over the past 20 years. In years past I would routinely run into professional trade show magicians working the show. Sometimes there were maybe 2 or 3 guys working the same show.
I do not remember the last time I saw a professional trade show magician working a show in the past 5 years.
I think its a very bad time for someone deciding to get into the trade show market right now for example.
I live in Chicagoland and I know and see several restaurant magicians, but I think even in this market the opportunities are much more limited than a few years ago.
Scott you are probably right on with your examples, but I sure don't want to do 600 birthday shows a year for 60K. On the other hand, are there any corporate magicians left out there that can make that in a couple of months? I wonder....
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Postby Scott Burton » 07/14/11 08:06 AM

I'm confident that, if you (or anyone else) want to make it as a full-time pro, there is some formula that will work for you. If your local market cannot support you, you could either move or travel. If the corporate or trade show market doesn't work, try kids shows or restaurant work etc.

Just like with any business venture, your ability to service the needs of others - and get the word out - is limited only to your creativity, skills, and willingness to work.
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Postby El Harvey Oswald » 07/14/11 04:16 PM

"I'm confident that, if you (or anyone else) want to make it as a full-time pro, there is some formula that will work for you."

Is this the magicians' version of "you can be whatever you want if you just want it badly enough"?
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Postby Scott Burton » 07/15/11 04:21 AM

Haha...I'm referring to working the numbers and business planning rather than wishful thinking. But, I suppose there are some parallels :)
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Postby Lou Serrano » 07/18/11 07:32 PM

Steve Cobb wrote: My thinking was it would be extremely difficult in the current economic climate for someone wanting to start out in say "trade shows"

From my perspective there just doesn't seem to be nearly as many trade shows as there was 10-20 years ago. I have attended and exhibited in probably 100+ trade shows over the past 20 years. In years past I would routinely run into professional trade show magicians working the show. Sometimes there were maybe 2 or 3 guys working the same show.

I do not remember the last time I saw a professional trade show magician working a show in the past 5 years.

I think its a very bad time for someone deciding to get into the trade show market right now for example.

I live in Chicagoland and I know and see several restaurant magicians, but I think even in this market the opportunities are much more limited than a few years ago.


This reminds me of the story of the two shoe salesmen.

Two successful shoe salesmen from competing companies were sent to Africa to see if there were any opportunities there.

The first shoe salesman arrived in Africa and immediately began his assessment of this new wide open market. Less then an hour into it, he quickly phoned back to his headquarters: I cant sell shoes here! Nobody wears them, everyone is barefoot!

The second shoe salesman arrived in Africa and also began his assessment. He quickly became thrilled at what he observed and called headquarters: I cant believe what Im seeing, everyone is barefoot over here! Send me as much stock as you can spare, we are going to make a killing!

When I think of less magicians working trade shows and restaurants, all I can think of is the wonderful opportunity for those who want it bad enough and take action.

Respectfully,

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Postby SteveP » 07/19/11 12:30 PM

I agree with Lou. The opportunities are there but I think it also helps to understand why there are less magicians than there used to be.

This is just speculation, but I think the decline isn't recent and not due to the current economic situation. It goes back a decade to 9/11. A lot of the regular trade show guys started losing gigs back then because of 9/11. These are guys who had been doing it since the 70's & 80's. I think their network died and it was like having to start over for some of them. Some went on to other gigs, others started selling products to magicians.

Then for a few years it became "common knowledge" that there's no work in trade shows (partially because the old network was gone and they didn't know how to start over) and no one new was trying to get in.

Now this may all be fantasy on my part, but I think there is a bit of truth there and think now is probably a great time to get back into trade shows. With no magicians working them, then the few who do really will be providing a unique service.
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Postby Xakary » 11/24/11 05:49 AM

In reference to your comment "I sure don't want to do 600 birthday shows a year for 60K"--I know it's a made up number, but it brings up the issue of what to charge for a show. If you are charging $100, you're not charging nearly enough for a birthday show--put together a great show, charge a premium, and don't discount it (otherwise the discount becomes your new price). There will always be someone cheaper--you don't want to be known as the cheap magician (you get what you pay for...), you want to be the quality magician. Lots of people are willing to pay for a quality show, and if someone you're talking to isn't you don't want them as clients. If you've invested time in creating a really good show, that is worth something. Don't be afraid to ask a good price for it. But you HAVE to have a great show and great customer service to start with (be easy to work with). Also, don't restrict yourself to one type of show--look at various marketing opportunities, and adapt shows for the various audience types.
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Postby Doug » 12/01/11 09:54 PM

When it comes down to it all you need to decide what you believe you are worth and what your market will pay for your services. Price is just a number you put on yourself.
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Postby Umpa Duze » 12/05/11 02:17 AM

I am not sure that the lack of concrete figures is a good sign regarding the likely income you might expect. Perhaps there are so few folks actually making a full time living doing what you are trying to do that you will need to target your question to some working pros.
Cheers,
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Postby Geno Munari » 12/05/11 02:44 AM

The question is interesting, it says, "How much does the average Magician make annually?

The average magician...... Maybe Steve meant "What is the average earnings of a magician?"

There is no average price on a magician. There are so many factors to consider.

A very prestigious publicly traded company wanted to hire a division VP, and they asked one question to the applicants.

"How much do you want to earn?

So to the Genii forum group: What is your answer to this question?

I will post the correct answer that got the applicant hired in a subsequent post.
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Postby Lou Serrano » 12/08/11 06:22 PM

Geno Munari wrote:
"How much do you want to earn?

So to the Genii forum group: What is your answer to this question?




A: As much as I possibly can.
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Postby Edward Pungot » 12/08/11 08:03 PM

Is it true that there were magicians in the past who insured their hands for a million dollars?

My own personal response would be to pay me what you think I'm worth. I have pretty high expectations of myself so don't be surprised if your initial estimation changes after you're done seeing me work. You need a pretty big dose of ego in this business, and well, I'll dish it out for you faster than you can say Abracadabra.

( Read Ovitz: The Inside Story of Hollywood's Most Controversial Power Broker by Robert Slater )
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Postby Wolfgang » 12/08/11 09:37 PM

A good product will always sell in any market....
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Postby mai-ling » 12/09/11 12:36 AM

back 20+ years ago when there were only 150 professional
magicians working full time, you could make a really good
quality salary and have a comfortable life.

I know this because my parents were one of those 150 magicians.

Obviously over the decades the economy has changed drastically.

Plus the field is overcrowded by part time magicians who have
regular day jobs.

it's not easy in general to be self-employed with steady
work but whatever work you can get it better than none. Especially when what you do if full-time.

The best thing my parents ever told me to help me understand
what it to be a full-time entertainer was
"everytime you finish a job, your unemployed until the next one."

so very true today.




sprongshift wrote:Is it true that there were magicians in the past who insured their hands for a million dollars?


I know there were musicians who did.
you will remember my name
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Postby Geno Munari » 12/11/11 10:00 AM

Lou, you are hired.
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Postby oldmagic » 02/17/12 01:39 PM

Hello: new to the forum and thought this thread interesting ... and answerable in a limited way . For instance what would charge for the following gigs:
1. Kids birthday party for 1 hour within 30 minute drive.
2. Adult birthday party at a local restaurant across town.
3. Trade show in town ... per performance (which is a 20 minute demo that includes tricks with the product of the vendor who hired you) ... again this is per 20 minute performance.
4. Local TV show for 3 effects running about 20 minutes total.
5. Stage act in Vegas ... booked 7 days a week ... 2 shows per day.
If I wanted to do magic part time then this is the question that needs your experienced answer.
Thanks Bob C. ... oldtimer who no longer performs.
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Postby Jeremy Newton » 04/03/12 03:26 PM

Here's an example of the type of money possible. The "mind reader" mentioned in this article made $3,200 for his show, and I'm guessing it was probably about an hour or less. It is interesting to note that it is listed as a "session" with a "mind reader."

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/04 ... taxpayers/
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Postby Ernesto Pacifico » 07/23/12 04:29 PM

I think when people ask "how much do magicians make" it is more about asking if it is even possible.

It is easy to look at a profession like accounting and find statistics on number of people practicing, average salaries, job growth trends, and much more. Magic and other performance based careers or much harder to define and research.

With that being said, there are zero job openings in Magic. You pretty much have to pave your own road so the sky is the limit. And, the answer is YES you can absolutely make a living if you are good enough and know your market.

Best advice: find something not too taxing for Monday-Friday 9-5 or 7-3 and keep your nights and weekends open.
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Postby Edward Pungot » 07/23/12 04:33 PM

If you're in this for the money, you have already betrayed your "profession."
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Postby Doc Dixon » 07/23/12 05:04 PM

Edward Pungot wrote:If you're in this for the money, you have already betrayed your "profession."


Then I have at least partially betrayed my profession. But, please, don't be too hard on me, as my children have severe addictions to food, clothing and shelter.

DD
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Postby Edward Pungot » 07/23/12 05:22 PM

I suppose that's a good enough excuse.
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Postby jason156 » 07/24/12 02:47 AM

Edward Pungot wrote:If you're in this for the money, you have already betrayed your "profession."


Is it a choice between being a starving artist or a sellout with a full belly?
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Postby goochelaarjan » 07/24/12 07:19 AM

Besides Magic I give Marketing advice. When a magician wants to go from hobby to making a living doing magic asks this question I have a few for him. The most important point being:
What do you need to make a normal living?

On average in Holland you need about 40.000 to end up with appr. 2.000 net per month.
Big investments needed? Add them to this number.
Then he can decide how much to ask for certain types of performances. And how many he needs in order to get to the total he wants.

For example (all averages):
Birthday party's 150
Private party's 500
Businesses 650

If these are the prices he think he can ask, he can do te math how much performances he has to do. And play with the numbers, based on what's really happening.

For example:
150 * 20
500 * 15
650 * 50
Total: 40.170

Any help?
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Postby Edward Pungot » 07/24/12 01:16 PM

jason156 wrote:Is it a choice between being a starving artist or a sellout with a full belly?


If you wish to continue to be perceived and pegged by the general public to be between a clown and a comedian, let magic in general continue to do what it has always done since the fall--settle and downgrade the profession for peanuts and a b**w job.
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Postby Ernesto Pacifico » 07/24/12 06:40 PM

IMHO entrepreneurship is the foundation to great magic.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 07/25/12 10:16 AM

Don't know why my post was deleted. I assure you when I say I can't imagine mitt Romney being a captivating cardician there is no political message. He's unquestionable a successful, and perhaps now the worlds most famous, entrepreneur - and having seen him speak live - a fairly boring individual with limited presentational abilities. This post is made solely to contradict the baseless claim that the skills of being an entrepeneur would translate into those required for being a successful performer, let alone magician. I hope I have managed, via unnecessary words, to water down the original post of 'somehow I cant imagine mitt Romney being a captivating cardician' into something vanilla enough that it can be used as non political discourse among intelligent adults in a topic regarding specialized skill sets and their applicability to conjuring
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Postby Edward Pungot » 07/25/12 10:23 AM

"IMHO entrepreneurship is the foundation to great [ entrepreneurship ]"
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 07/25/12 03:51 PM

I think Brad's basic argument could be better made by pointing out the number of truly great magicians--past and present--who are truly lousy business people.

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Postby Brad Henderson » 07/25/12 05:57 PM

Respectfully -dustin, I disagree. The fallacious post identified entrepreneurship as a skill set which would produce a great magician, my intent was to isolate that skill set to establish it has no bearing one one's ability to present magic in an effective manner
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 07/26/12 12:02 AM

So does mine. But mine is absolutely guaranteed NOT to produce any political backlash whatsoever, which I have already received. So there.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 07/26/12 10:01 AM

All lemons are fruits but not all fruits are lemons. I would apologize that some people are incapable of evaluating someones presentational skills and entrepeneurship reputation without layering a filter of politics onto the situation. But I can't see how it's my fault that others lack such cognitive abilities.

The thing I love about the genii forum - and what I feel sets it apart from other magic forums - is that we (usually) refuse to play to the lowest common denominator.
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