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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Following is Admittedly a PSA/Rant:

Attention aerialists and circus performers:

Stop charging by the hour!!!

It's one thing to get this request from a client...clients don't know circus.  They know that the rest of the civilized world tends to sell itself in hours, so they frequently ask how much performance costs by the hour.  This my friends is where we have the opportunity to educate them with kindness and understanding.  This is not the time to become indignant and defensive.  The client isn't necessarily trying to trivialize your mortally dangerous lifelong work, they really just do not know any better.  Keep your emotions in check and instead, use facts to explain the situation.

The best possible response of a client to watching a performance is for their face to melt off in amazement.  It was amazing, it was moving, spectacular, they want more, they want to see it again.  This does not mean you should do it WANT that aching pulsing love in the heart of your audience.  That is part of the magic of witnessing live performance.  Which option do you think leads to this response:  a dynamic, tightly choreographed 4-5 minute act, or watching someone do a variety of slowly moving splits for 20 minutes to house techno?  Right.

Understanding this, you are presented with a difficult task.  A client always thinks they want more.  More sets, longer sets.  You are in the position of facilitating the understanding that LESS is actually MORE.  Unless you have absolute confidence in the value of what you are selling, you are not going to succeed.  This is why we're presented with the current landscape of 95% ambient gigs, with ridiculously long sets.  Artists and agents let the client bully them into giving them more, when they are actually getting an inferior product.  Put an outstanding performer on for two 20 minute sets and you're going to be yawning by the eighth minute.  What's worse, now 4 sets are en vogue. guys.  This is not why we got into this.
"Those who lack confidence in their ability to deliver quality will offer quantity instead.  Those who need to pay rent will sabotage their own future earnings to do so."  
Said the great Scott Cameron of Trapeze World, San Francisco.  Thanks for holding the line, sir.

And yeah, I get it.  I pay rent, too.  Here's the thing, I don't expect anything to change because I stood on a soapbox for a few paragraphs.  The market world-wide has already changed to an ambient marketplace.  It's nothing to be upset about, because why waste the energy?  But if you're going to walk into the fire, walk with your eyes open.  Either way, selling live performance by the hour is like selling a painting by square inch...short-sighted at best.

It may seem rare, but you can still have the experience of selling the act you worked for years to make for $1000 or more...if you know to try.  If you don't ask for it, you won't get it.  It's worth learning how to ask.  It's worth the time it takes to build a package BEFORE the phone even rings, so you don't have to sweat and stammer and try to invent something to already will have something to sell.  Your life's work has value.

Want to learn how to ask?  Talk to your mentors, talk to your friends.  Practice on your dog.  Apply for my mentorship course, The Audacity Project- I've opened the application for the next TWO cycles.  Whatever you do, try.  If you're spending your life becoming great at something, at least make a concerted effort to sell it for what it's worth.  We are all in this together.

photo by Brian Alvarez

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