Magic For Rent – Part Two

This is the second chapter in the series on an untapped source of revenue for magicians, Apartment Communities. If you missed chapter 1, you can read it here.

OK, we all agree that performing magic at apartment communities could be a good source of income. Now, how do we get started? How long should the show last? What Kind of show should it be.

First of all you will need an entertaining show that can be enjoyed by the majority of the residents of the community. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1.) Keep it compact. Although most better apartment communities have a clubhouse for such activities, your space will be limited. Big illusions, and bulky props are not a good idea.

2.) Although, I think 30-45 minutes is ideal for a one man show, you may have to stretch it out a bit to take up the better part of an hour. It’s easier to sell if you can tell the manager or the person booking you that it is about an hour show. They want their residents to feel that they have provided them with an evening of entertainment and you will probably be it. A full hour of magic is pushing it for a one man show but there are ways of taking your 30 minutes of magic and making it a full evening of entertainment without dragging it out. We will get to that in a later chapter.

3.) You will probably be performing for a diverse audience. Young, old and possibly people from other countries that are in the states temporarily.

4.) Lot’s of audience participation and interaction is beneficial. The reason the apartment community hired you is to make their residents feel special.

5.) Being a professional performer, you should be able to project your voice and normally will not need a sound system. However, if you are performing at a large community and expecting a 100 or more people, or if you think you will have trouble being heard, or you use music, buy a system. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy and they are not that expensive. One thing for sure. If they can’t hear you, your show will flop.

6.) Write out your introduction for the manager or person introducing you to read on a 3×5 card. Or better yet, write up 2 or 3 different ones and let them choose which one they want. Don’t expect them to read a bunch of braggadocios crap. Keep it simple. Offer these to them in advance so they won’t have to come up with an impromptu introduction.

Remember, you want to make the event as easy as possible for the person in charge.

Basically, if you have performed for a general audience, and are good at it, that’s all you need. Once you decide that you have a show that will play well at apartment communities, the next step will be to book the show.

The ultimate goal is to hook up with a management company that will book you for 10-20 or even 100 shows. Do not approach a big management company at this time. You’re not ready yet.

Suppose you walk into a big apartment management company office and start your pitch to the president, CEO, activity director or whoever is in charge of such things. He asks the question, How many times have you performed at apartment communities or where’s your references? OOPS!……you just blew the possibility of 100 shows.

Start at the bottom. For your first show or two, you want to contact the on-site manager. Usually, they have the authority to hire you. Also there are apartments that are managed by smaller companies and some are even privately owned.

Do what ever it takes to book those first couple shows. I’m not suggesting that you offer to do it for free. If you do that they’ll think you’re an amateur and not worth anything. Be creative. If you think that they are really interested, tell them that you are getting ready to make a promo video and if they allow you to tape the show you will do it for half price.

Actually you would be money ahead because what you are wanting at this point is recommendations, testimonials, video and or pictures to show when you do approach the big management companies.

Here’s another idea to get those first shows, promo materials, and the ammunition you need to approach the management company. Most apartment communities make the clubhouse available to their residents to use for birthday parties, meetings, receptions etc. Usually it’s free of charge or at a very reasonable cost. Surely you know someone that currently lives at an apartment community. Have them reserve the clubhouse and invite all their friends for a magic show. Invite your friends, relatives or at least enough to fill the place up. You can now video tape the show and get plenty of pictures.

You now have your promo material. You were not hired by the apartment community. However, You can truthfully say, “Here’s a video of the show I did at the Shady Pines Apartment Clubhouse”. Tape the entire show. Then edit it down or have someone do it for you. Your promo tape should be only a few minutes of highlights and don’t forget to include audience reactions. Laughing, happy residents will probably impress your potential clients more than your magic.

When you are trying to sell your show to on-site managers, be sure to emphasize that it is an activity that all their residents can enjoy, young and old, and that it is a self contained activity that requires very little or no work by them or their staff.

Next month, we will discuss which apartments are the best to approach and and how to find them. How to approach the big management companies and more ways on how to promote your apartment magic business.

Ed Williams

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