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Old 07-05-06, 05:37 PM   #1
aroundlsu
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Default First Festival - Had to Pay to Perform

I busked my first festival yesterday with a combination psychokenetic metal bending routine and escape show. I did the 100ft rope challenge and a Posey straightjacket escape. I had a lot of fun, got LOTS of fantastic feedback from the crowd, was invited to work a party that night, made a little bit of money, and am interested in taking it further. So not bad for my first day on the job.

Big question coming up.. the festival was my city's big 4th of July fireworks show. It covered the entire downtown RiverWalk area and was free and open to the public.

I had to pay the event organizer $100 to work the festival. She said if I didn't pay the police would ticket me and toss me from the premises. Is this common?

On the plus side, there were literally thousands of people and zero other street performers of any type. Not even a balloon guy. I was given free reign to set up and perform anywhere I wanted and the police were usually standing to the side watching (so I felt safe). I almost freaked out when, on my first show, I looked up from bending a fork and had HUNDREDS of people circled around me with their cameras and phones whipped out taking pictures. I was all alone and over my head but I said to myself.. Do or Die. And went on performing for the rest of the day.

So.. paying to perform a festival? Is that how it usually works? Or was I ripped off?
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Old 07-06-06, 04:28 AM   #2
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you were ripped off !!
the only festivals where you might even consider paying to perform at are 'fringe arts' festivals which are big and established and will actually use the money you pay to promote you and maybe provide technical support.

anyway sounds like you should have easily made that money back with all those people there and you the only busker.
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Old 07-06-06, 03:25 PM   #3
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hey the thing is...we are performers that entertain people...just like a band....so why is it they pay the band and not you...NEVER pay tp perform! NEVER!
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Old 07-06-06, 04:24 PM   #4
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If the organizer had pull with the city and cops and had the power to shut you down $100 seems worth it for "free reign" in such great conditions.
Baksheesh man, sometimes if you don't pay you can't play.
The question is do you feel it was worth $100?
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Old 07-06-06, 04:27 PM   #5
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its NEVER worth it...if you pay you are lowering your self worth and every good street performer out there....if you work you should get paid and NEVER pay....are you less valuable than a band cause they sure as hell are getting paid
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Old 07-06-06, 11:06 PM   #6
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Sometimes it takes money to make money. It just depends on how much you made I suppose. I have never paid a festival spot, but I have bought a ton of permits that have more than paid for themselves.
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Old 07-07-06, 08:31 AM   #7
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i always ask myself why aren't street performers sought after entertainiers....we should be the thing at festivals and we aren't...never pay
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Old 07-07-06, 10:01 AM   #8
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Everything is negotiable. And every market is different. And the $100 weeds out the riff raff. After you get some more experience, you may find them paying you . Or they will raise it to $200 and you will be happy to pay because of the return you are making. It all depends. Develope a knock out show, and you may have several festivals contacting you for the same weekend! Then you get to pick and choose! More important, is that you DID your first festival.

Cheers!
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Old 07-08-06, 01:51 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies and support! Based on what you've said I feel more comfortable balking at a $100 "permit" in the future.

While I didn't make much this time out (a backpack full of $1 bills even though I was asking for 20s like you guys suggest) I feel it was worth it because now I know I can do it. I can get a crowd, entertain them, keep them watching, and get paid at the end. By the end of the day the heat and humidity was my biggest enemy. I was soaked through with sweat at the end of every 20 minute show and needed some time to settle down.

I've been contacting all the fairs and festivals in my area with the positive feedback from the organizers and hopefully can get back out on another pitch by next weekend!

Question: Is a 20 minute show typical and respectable? I'm feeling the best way to convert those $1 tips into something bigger is to polish that 20 minutes into the best show I can deliver instead of trying to bulk it up with idle filler.
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Old 07-08-06, 05:46 AM   #10
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Yes a 20 minute show is good. I've seen Kosmo and Gazzo both rum shows that lasted 45 minutes and the people stayed!! But I just do the sidewalk shows running from 10 to 15 minutes.

Look at it this way. I've seen me and I am no Gazzo or Kosmo. People may not stay the whole 45 minute show but will stay for a good 15 minute one. If I can get $25 a show and do 3 shows an hour it will add up quickly.

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Old 07-08-06, 11:15 AM   #11
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North America is filling with 20-30 min show rescrictions. Personally I think 45 min is right for a good show.

Can you crank out 10-15 min shows and still make money sure, but isn't it supposed to still be an experience? Not just a cash grab? Let people watch mtv at home, not on the street.

Designed a 20 minute show this winter and discovered it finally came together when I took more time. Sometimes it ran 30 mins other times 40. Waited untill Canada to try it though.

Anyone who walks away fromy my 45min show normal wouldn't come up at the end anyhow. In America alot came back on a nightly basis though, to take it all in.

Sheesh had audiences stay 2 hours solid, doesn't mean I want to do a 2 hour show.

Tim/Stickman


I've seen Kosmo and Gazzo both rum shows that lasted 45 minutes and the people stayed!!
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Old 07-09-06, 04:56 PM   #12
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"Question: Is a 20 minute show typical and respectable? I'm feeling the best way to convert those $1 tips into something bigger is to polish that 20 minutes into the best show I can deliver instead of trying to bulk it up with idle filler."

That's the most insightful thing I've ever heard a newcomer say. 20 minutes of "A" is a thousand times stronger than 40 of "C". Stick with that idea, your show will always grow in length, performers are masturbatory by nature, constantly trim out the crap and you're well on your way to a tight, strong show.
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Old 08-15-06, 08:55 PM   #13
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Default A cheap lesson :)

Sounds like at the stage of your career you are in, your $100 bought you a really good, not hugely expensive lesson in learning to do your show!

If it was me...

I would send a thank you note to the organizer - classy, handwritten, in a card with a picture of my act at her show and surrounded by happy people glued to the front. "Dear Jane, thanks so much for facilitating my performing at the festival. It was a great chance for both of us to 'try out' my new act in your venue. I was so pleased that so many people enjoyed watching me and asked if I'd be back next year. Thanks so much for the opportunity, and I hope next year you'll be able to hire me as 'official' entertainment! Best wishes and congratulations on a great event, Joe Busker."

Then next year I'd let her know that my price is $300 for the day plus food and a hotel room from one of her sponsors. By then, you'll probably be making more than that at your other gigs, but you can't jerk them up too many pay scale levels at once.

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Old 08-18-06, 01:24 PM   #14
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Default Was this public property?

If so you go hosed.

Would you pay cash to vote come November? Nope.

So why would you pay for your 1st amendment rights?

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