I hope you can bear with me in a bit of a rant. I have a love-hate relationship with some local gigging sites. I like them, in that I do receive a few magic gigs from them, and they have provided me with some stellar testimonials! However, in spite of their convenience, you should prepare yourself to deal with some of their problems.
They DOMINATE search engines, hiding actual people
Seriously, type “hire a magician” or “hire a local magician” into your favorite search engine, and check it out. How many are real human beings? You’ll see the front page dominated by these gigging sites, crowding out the real human beings that live near you. If you like people, digging past the first page will pay off!
I guess I wouldn’t mind if they occupied that top spot so much. I’m probably a bit jealous. However, you’ll often see several from the same company on the same search. They use their massive influence to manipulate themselves to the top of the search engine pages. They make it seem like they are the only business in town, when in reality, real humans are the only business in town! If I was King of Google, they’d get their one listing, and let someone else be listed as well. Alas, they didn’t ask me!!!
But that’s not the worst part…
You’re really actually paying a little more for these services, instead of working directly with the magician!
Each of these gigging sites charges the magician (or entertainer, or plumber) a fee to list their business on there. Five bucks here, a hundred bucks there. Pretty soon, we’re talking about real money!
Sometimes we pay an upfront cost to list our business there. Sometimes entertainers are charged for even bidding on a project or event – whether or not the event planner books us or not! They are free to walk away and not accept any of the bids, but the entertainers still pay.
Sometimes the cynical and paranoid side of me wonders if actually occasionally these businesses send out phony leads for entertainers to bid on, to generate revenue for themselves. We don’t find out details about our clients until we are booked. They wouldn’t do that. I’m being paranoid, right? Ha-ha!
Guess what. Here’s a dirty little secret. If you go to one of those gigging sites instead of going directly to the magician, someone’s got to pay. Those fees are almost always passed down to the customer, invisibly. I hate to charge people more! That’s why I allow customers to see my pricing sheet, but even so, nothing is chiseled in stone. A real human on the other side of the screen will work with you on your individual event.
In order to ensure the gIg site gets their cut, they limit the communication between the customer and the entertainer.
What? In order to set up a proper show, as an entertainer I need to speak to my client, to figure out what they need, and how (and if) I can serve them properly. If they are expecting David Copperfield illusions, I’m probably not their man. If they are wanting some sort of intimate strolling magic or a parlor or stage show with lots of direct audience interactions, I can knock it out of the park!
Here’s the crazy thing. In order to make sure that the gigging site always gets their cut, they almost always limit the communication to their web page. I’ve been scolded by these services for providing my phone number – so I can use their service and book the gig that they sent me. Gah!
Some unscrupulous people (I’m sure) have used the initial contact from the gigging site, and then not paid the site their cut. (Unscrupulous magician? I perish the thought!) It’s a bit like “dine & dash” in a restaurant. I always pay for the service, but I’m sure there were people that didn’t. However, when their security practices get in the way of me serving my clients, it bothers me.
So, when you hire a magician (or any other service) dig down a page or two to find a real human being! Don’t be pulled by these services that will charge you more and limit your communication. Good luck on your next hire!