The “Shows Per Year” Delusion


Bragging about number of shows per year- I see this constantly, and hear it in person all the time as well. Many magicians or performers are extremely quick to make claims about how many shows per year they do. The sad part is, most of their numbers are so outrageously high, that it’s unbelievable. I once saw a guy that claimed he did 500+ shows per year. Now let’s think about this for a second…there’s only 365 days in a year…at 500 shows per year, you are looking at nearly 2 shows every single day. Not only is this unrealistic, it is insane. At magic conferences, I always hear the pissing match get started between guys fighting about how many shows they do- all in silly effort to one up each other.

Despite popular belief, the number of shows you do per year has NO EFFECT WHATSOEVER on your professional level, how much you make performing, or your overall ranking as an entertainer. Why would any performer run themselves ragged doing 500 shows a year? It makes no sense.

The question at hand with these high claims is HOW MUCH is the performer being paid per show? After all, once the year is done, that’s all that truly matters! let’s use a more realistic number for this example. Let’s say a performer claims to do 100 shows per year (even this number is a little over the top for most, but still doable). Chances are they are charging $100-$400 per show and mostly working birthday parties, or doing package deals with fairs ,theme parks, etc. This is an average of $20,000- $25,000 made per year performing shows. Doesn’t sound like much once the math is done, huh?  Most performers who have a higher fee, and perform for much more impressive events and venues, tend to perform far less, but make MORE money. They could make that same $20,000 by performing 10-12 shows…and do FAR less work, and have PLENTY more free time on their hands to spend with their families and friends…or heck, more free time to work other events and make even more cash. If they performed half as many shows as the guy above (50) at a rate of $1500-$2000 per show, they are raking in $90,000.  yes, you read that right- FOUR AND A HALF times the money, for HALF the amount of paid shows.

My other quarrel with this idea is simply “WHO CARES?!?” Nobody cares how many shows you do per year. It’s simply something performers like to brag about to try and inflate their own egos and make them seem more desirable. Anytime I see a fellow performer boast about their amount of shows per year, I automatically roll my eyes and consider them as an amateur in need of some sort of attention. Clients don’t care either. Clients don’t care about how proud you are of yourself, they want results, and they want to know that you can provide THEM with the proper entertainment THEY need for THEIR event.

There’s an old quote that says “Work smarter, not harder”. To be a performer that is capable of doing this, you must be professional, and desirable. There must be something about you that sets you apart from your competition. Above all these things, you have to be able to DELIVER. It’s easy to make yourself look good through videos, photos, and claims…but when the cards are all on the table, and you step up to perform your show, you’ve GOT to be able to deliver. To earn a pro price, you need to be able to perform a pro show. If not, you will not receive the repeat bookings, you will not receive positive reviews and references, and you will not be performing professionally for very long.

Kyle Jarrard