Asking for tips without being awkward?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by saucyadrian, Feb 4, 2018.

  1. I feel like I've been practicing magic for long enough and have mastered a couple of moves and have routines built them. Enough so, that I feel like I want to start profiting off of these and I wanted some "tips" on how to ask for "tips" after I finished with my set.
    010rusty likes this.
  2. If you are doing street magic guerrilla style (a.k.a. David Blaine style) then I wouldn't expect to get tips performing that way. I personally use that type of performance to either practice material in front of a live audience or do it to get live reaction footage.

    If you are busking or working a strolling gig such as a restaurant then I think it's a bit more acceptable there. A pro-tip I got from Dan Harlan is to end your set on a trick that involves borrowed money, particularly with bills. Often times your audience will just let you keep the bill that you borrowed as a tip. If you look at 4:27 in my video of me busking you will see that the tips actually came in once I borrowed money but not at any other time during the performance even if they found that the magic was stronger with other effects. Dan's tip really works. (Link to video: )

    In particular for busking, if you have a top or hat case that has a sign next to it that says "Tips" or something more cheeky like "College Fund" you will probably get more tips that way too since people will understand that you are hoping to get money for your performance. Other buskers that I know remind their audience at the beginning, middle, and end of their performance that they are hoping to get tipped for their performance. They will usually use lines such as "Remember folks, I'm not paid by anyone to be out here. If you think this performance was at least as good as the price of a cup of coffee, perhaps tip me that if you feel inclined and I will continue to come out here to perform for you all." Look up hatlines to help you not feel so awkward in asking. Be sure to look up magicians such as Gazzo, Kozmo, and Jack Murdock for good examples of how to busk successfully. Those guys can make an entire living off of busking alone.
    JoshL8, Gabriel Z. and RickEverhart like this.
  3. I have never in 18 years asked for a tip at all, but then again I've never been in a busking scenario. Typically I've already been paid and am working an event or at a restaurant. I just feel awkward "hinting" that I'd like some cash from them. On the other hand I have had a waiter or waitress run me a $5 over while working in a restaurant and have them say, "The couple at the last table left this for you and smile." This would take place while I was working another booth and then the couple I was working for would think "Oh...we are supposed to give him a little bit." LOL.
    Antonio Diavolo and Gabriel Z. like this.
  4. I don't ask for tips if I'm doing strolling - I get paid a reasonable price by the establishment to provide my services. I also refuse to do table hopping. It's just not my thing.

    But for busking I have one very significant piece of advice regarding the awkward feeling of asking for tips: Get over it.

    You will not make money busking if you don't actually ask for money. People are perfectly willing to watch a show for free, and if you never give them a goad to pay you, they just won't.

    Kozmo said at his lecture, put in three hat lines. One, maybe halfway through the set, maybe a bit earlier, is just mentioning that you get tips. The second one, right before your finale, is telling people straight up that you will be passing the hat after this last routine. The last one is, in your character's words, "Give me money now."

    It took me two solid years to develop hat lines I was really comfortable with. I modeled it after my friend Daniel Greenwolf's lines, but more my style. I recommend watching as many buskers as you can, particularly those at ren fairs and other places that have a barrier to entry (Street buskers don't actually have to be any good if they don't have to get hired).
    Gabriel Z. and RickEverhart like this.
  5. If you want to start street performing/busking for tips in your city, I would first recommend to check your city's laws and see if you need a permit that will allow you to do this sort of thing. After following those necessary measures, I remember picking a decent hot spot in my local downtown area where street performing was allowed and I just simply brought a top hat already slightly filled with a couple $1 bills, a few $5s, a $10, and just started performing my magic to anyone willing to stop and see. The hat was in a visible area of my performance so after the routine it was VERY common that I would receive a tip, even at least $1. I didn't necessarily ask for tips, it was just suggested with the hat already filled with some money. If you have your routines down, you perform them well, and engage your audience, they will likely tip if they already see money in your hat. Psychologically this will allow them to think "he already has a little bit of tips, he must be pretty good" and the probability that they will also tip goes up.

    Keep in mind this is what I did when I was a beginner and had no prior experience to street performing. I was very nervous and scared to start, but once I fully committed to it and started performing a few routines, all of that went away and it became so much easier to go out there and perform. All it takes is to just start doing it. It's the only way you'll really know what you need to improve on!
    Gabriel Z. and RickEverhart like this.
  6. That is called "Seeding the pot". Highly recommended.

    The difference you'll see between setting a hat out, and directly requesting tips, is that with a hat out you'll get $1 or so per person, often change. Whereas asking for tips means you can gently suggest they give you more. I regularly get 5s and 10s, the occasional 20, and I'm not a good busker.
  7. Surprisingly I got a good amount of 5s, 10s, even 20s if they wanted to see more. I was getting something around $60 an hour with that money being a mix of different amounts, but when I was 15 that was some good money haha. I would go for about 2-3 hours during a busy part of the day and it was really encouraging to keep going, however I did this during the summer and the extreme humidity here in Charleston would always start to ruin my equipment so I stopped doing it as that was frustrating.
    Gabriel Z. likes this.

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