YouTube is the greatest thing to happen to magic... - Two Essays

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jason Soll, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. Friends,

    The following essay is a revised excerpt from a message sent to Jake the Snake Magic, here on the T11 forums, regarding YouTube exposure. I urge you to read this with an open mind and consider the following very carefully and thoughtfully.

    Prior to reading these two brief essays, understand that I have been involved in the art of magic for around 6 years now. I've watched Web 2.0 emerge and change magic day by day. I have produced DVDs of my own material and sold them worldwide, so these issues hit close to home on a more personal level than most.

    My theses:

    1. No card magician can claim that s/he created an effect in its entirety. Therefore, the magic industry cannot be 100% just.

    2. YouTube is the greatest thing to happen to magic

    Continue reading for my explanations:


    Consider the following scenario: card magician A creates a trick and decides to sell it. Card magician B learns the trick, makes a variation and adds a bit more to the effect, and sells it as a new trick. Wouldn’t card magician A be frustrated? Of course he would.

    This takes me to a critical point: any magic trick that you create cannot correctly be fully attributed to any one creator. Thus, how are any magicians able to sell material? Because they can. It all depends on how knowledgeable the customer is.

    There exists a foundation of knowledge necessary to create card magic tricks. This foundations includes knowledge pertaining to what can be considered magical, the skills necessary to perform such tricks, etc. Therefore, I see the whole notion of selling magic tricks too hazy to be accepted as just.


    What we are experiencing is just another wave of evolution in the arts. When magic first hit the Internet, many old-school magicians thought magic was doomed. Now, any 13 year old can learn the greatest, most precious secrets in the world, right from their computer screen! But magic did not burn itself to the ground. In fact, I think it has pushed itself further.

    YouTube is the next big thing to happen to magic. Now, people are revealing tricks left and right; one can learn most new tricks for free! Magic is certainly going to be doomed! Right? WRONG!

    We are the old-school magicians now, believe it or not. What is going to determine whether or not we push our art further is whether we can focus more on personally creating new magic, performing it more, and not selling it! (The first two are necessary for magic to continue moving forward, but the third, believe it or not, is a mere luxury).

    Take a look at the music industry. Now, the only way that bands are able to make lots of money and survive is by going on more tours and performing more. They can no longer survive from record sales alone. But if you think about this, is this a bad thing? I don’t think so.

    The digitalization of music forced musicians to perform more. Isn’t that what music is all about? Isn’t that what magic is all about?!

    I see YouTube as the greatest thing to happen to magic yet! I am now able to provide millions of people around the world with the tools necessary to make others happy. This is why I primarily produce tutorial videos online. And what do you know! Everybody loves them, beginners and professionals alike. Believe it or not, a few years ago when I decided that I no longer wanted to make money from magic, I started to enjoy it more! Funny how that works.

    I challenge you to take this in and think about it. It’s a message I’ve intended to bring to the magic community for a long time now. I welcome questions for further clarification.


    Jason Soll
  2. Here's the problem, Youtube is stopping kids from actually performing for REAL people. Magic wasn't meant to be performed in front of an unblinking camera.
  3. This is by no means YouTube's fault. It has been happening for many many years, starting long before YouTube existed. The creation of these websites, such as T11, that showcase a community that is centered around videos of magic caused this. However, this does not have to be a problem.

    With a certain balance, these websites can push the art further. But, if magicians start performing just for other magicians, progress stalls and magic no longer becomes a performing art.

  4. i agree......also if magic doesn't evolves...we are all left with the same tired stuff....
  5. Very good read. I can't say I agree with everything you said, but you hit most of the nails on the head.
  6. You raise some interesting questions, but I don't completely agree with the first point.

    Let us forget about magic for a moment and look at a discipline like physics, which is a much more academic discipline. It was Sir Isaac Newton who once said that

    "If I have seen further, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of Giants".

    What does this quote mean? Something similar to what you have mentioned. All academics in a a field like physics will readily acknowledge the prior work that has served as a foundation for their work and results. Take any respectable journal in an academic discipline and read the first few pages of any paper. People always talk about prior work and give full credit to others whose ideas have helped them. Why can't magic operate according to this protocol?

    In fact, the more respectable magicians who publish tricks regularly do precisely this. They always acknowledge others who have done prior work on related tricks/sleights and highlight the fact that their work is an improvement/modification. There is nothing unjust about such a system. Of course, there isn't a precise unbiased peer review system in magic and this means one cannot always accurately judge the quality of newly released material. Still, as long as those who sell tricks follow this system of ethics, there really isn't anything hazy going on.
  7. Hi Jason - your post is well written and obviously a lot of thought has been put into your thesis. I see your point and it's an interesting take on it...I think it could go either way. Many arts have died off because a generation didn't take it the correct direction, so I see where you are coming from.

    In a lot of ways, isn't this sort of the same argumen the Masked Magician made for revealing some tired old secrets? He said that he wanted magicians to come up with new concepts because at the time of his first appearance magic was no longer a popular entertainment option. It wasn't until David Blaine, then Criss Angel started gaining popularity that magic was cool again to the popular culture.
  8. #8 bigredbergid, Apr 27, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2009
    who cares if magic is cool ,thats the problem its not about that and attracting other performers to evolve. Its more of a slow process if n e thing youtub is ruining magic simply cause now when i perform laymen goto the net to watch more magic then they see links about learning magics secrets **** the internet id b a better magician without loophole to the internet situation create my own magic an dont share the secrets with the world!
  9. #9 William Draven, Apr 27, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2009
    Your post provokes serious and intelligent thought on this forum. Thank you for the information. Many of us have tried to tackle the subject of Youtube and magic and the threads have usually tended to be fairly one sided. You make some excellent points in both essays.

    Youtube and internet exposure/magic isn't going to go away. It's not an ugly rash on the face of the art we all love. It's an ongoing condition that we are either going to have to get used to and know how to treat it, to live with it, or be buried by it.

    You are right about card magic. With only two possible plots available to the worker (1. Pick a card or 2. story/acrobatics) the field is VERY limited and ultimately it boils down to just how many ways CAN you reveal a selected card. So do to the very narrow plot field, you are absolutely right. It is near impossible to create a truly unique effect.

    To a lesser point: I personally think the reason behind so many card effects in the popular circulation among the young artists and the people that create them is simply do the the ease of marketing. Card effects are pretty simple to make, all things considered. Figure out how to get a spectator to select a card, create a unique and exciting way to reveal it, and then write a flimsy plot to use while doing the trick, now slap a price tag on it and release it to the magic stores. Modern card effects aren't using anything new slight wise than what was available in the days of Eurdenese(sp?)

    Magic on Youtube has had the same effect on the industry as The Masked Magicians specials. It has brought attention to the art by people that would probably not have gotten involved any other way, and it's forced the industry itself to evolve to stay on the edge of science and art. Yes, we as a society are steeped in tradition, but even tradition needs to change with the times should it have any prayer of staying alive. Morly, even ethically, the exposure of magic on the internet may very well be wrong, but in the end does it not force us to become better as performers and inventors? In the end, isn't that truly what we seek to do anyway?

    Loved your post, I look forward to following this thread as it evolves and grows.

    William Draven
  10. The only thing is though, is that the people on youtube usually don't take the time to learn tricks correctly, and the people making the tutorials half the time can't even properly do the trick themselves. This isn't youtubes fault, it's our up-and-coming youth's attitude for the most part. This idea that you can have anything you want without putting the time in. So I don't blame youtube, I blame it's users.
  11. Just about everyone else that isn't in the magic community. There is a reason why only 3 or 4 magicians in the last 3 decades have made it as a household name. The one thing they have in common is they made magic cool and appealing to a mass audience.

    David Copperfield, Lance Burton, David Blaine and Criss Angel are about the only names that any person on the street will know. There is a reason for that. Now..which of those will go down as a legend and be known for years after they're gone is an entirely different story.
  12. Hi William,

    I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you on the above. I think there are a range of plots in card magic, a great number of which don't involve a selection or story/acrobatics.

    How about the following plots?

    OOTW - Curry
    Matching Routines - Nash / Marlo
    Ace Assemblies - Everyone
    Gambling Demonstrations

    I could go on. I do quite a lot of card magic, and I don't do a single standard "pick a card trick".
  13. ACAAN, transpositions.....
  14. i have stated this many times. magic can come from anyone any age any race any gender any where. it doesnt matter how old you are. it depends on your ability and persistance. i have been told i suck at magic many times because im 13. its stupid and pissing me off

  15. I'm inclined to almost agree with you! The field of card magic may not be so narrow that it only has 2 plots... but a lot of your suggestions fall inside of my origional comment.

    1) Matching Rutines: They are still pick a card. Just so happens that the cards picked match the ones that I picked.
    2) Ace Assembly: We're still picking cards. Just very specfic cards.
    3) Predictions: Pick a card... I knew you were going to say that because... {insert reveal here}
    4) Gambling Demos: usually fall into the skill/story/ juggling slot. watch me tell you a story about every reason why you shouldn't bet with me, and then back it up with a demonstration to prove my point.
    5) OOTW I can only assume to mean Out of This World. If so It's another pick a card. While we're at it pick as many cards as you want, deal them out and the ending will be something strange. {insert matching effect here}
  16. Uh No, Out of this World is not a pick a card effect.

    Ace Assemblies are also not pick a card tricks, Nobody is picking card unless you are doing A Collectors routine. Otherwise, No.
  17. Jason,

    When a card magician creates an effect, his duty in our craft is to credit to the best of his knowledge. I think the best crediting, done by guys like Lee Asher and Tyler Wilson for example, are guys that quote the source that inspired them, then those that came before, or at least the original plot. If we all did this, it would create a lineage for people to follow the creators – think of it as a flow chart of magic
    The only reason that magic can be sold is progression – imagine if we stopped trying to improve. Edison didn’t create the light bulb until he hired a research team to see others failures. When he realized that he was in the early phase of the errors already made, the mistakes published by others allowed him to save time in repeating those errors and find a solution. The problem occurs when someone puts something into print that is NOT an improvement, but a variation – this takes more than knowledge, but a critical eye to understand what the effect brings to the brethren.

    When an effect is sold, and not given away on Youtube, it creates a perceived value of that knowledge. This value attached is a deterrent from people just learning the secret, because the secret of magic is vital for many reasons.
  18. #18 Morgan B, Apr 28, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2009
    Which brings me to your second point – there are many issues with Youtube magic and exposure. Have you ever talked to groups that watch the “Masked Magician” – the only thing this show teaches people is that there is always a solution – even the announcer talks in a condescending and dismissing tone about our “so called powers” – making us look like bigger idiots than our audience often think before they see us work. Having the focus be on the lowest form of magic – “I am going to fool you” – “no you won’t” – it is no wonder people don’t see magic as anything more than a puzzle or trick. It can’t be seen as art, as our art is the method and the concealment of the method...if the focus is solution based; then we only offer riddles or puzzles. So, you can call yourself the Riddler , if you want, but I like the title Magician.
    The larger issue is the excuse for exposure on Youtube – it makes us search for new and better methods What a crock of $hit – seriously, that is like saying – I want you to make a car...but you aren’t allowed to use ANY of the old technology to build it...not wheels, no engine...start from scratch. When you expose past principles, we can’t “stand on the shoulder of giants” because the giant’s secrets are we need to become giants? Good luck creating ALL brand new magic...which will again, get exposed....and then what? When all the secrets are just hope the people you do magic for don’t look up magic on Youtube...or won’t as soon as you are done?
    Youtube magic is improving magic? Really Jason? How about the fact that I meet a new magician ALL the time that doesn’t know the name of sleights...doesn’t know the name of an effect that he is doing...doesn’t even know the creator – SHOULDER’S OF GIANTS? They don’t even know where the giants are or who they are – like the CLASSIC story shared to me by Tyler Wilson on the kid and father that told off ROY WALTON when he tried to tell them they were doing HIS effect Card Warp..and they literally said, “F off old man, you don’t know what you are talking about – it is called the Voodoo card” – because it was branded as such.

    How about the reason I joined this forum – when all these young guys were talking about this great trick created by a guy named Roy Raphaeli on Youtube, because he posted his name on it...but it turned out to be Darwin Ortiz’ Jumping Gemini - oddly my second post said this:
    Exosure kills magic, speak out against it, don't do it, and respect the secret.
    So here is the deal Jason – if you REALLY believe that it improve magic to reveal the secret – I will come to your show and tell your audiences exactly how your magic is done – because it would be good for you. It would make you come up with “better” methods and make you a better magician.
    I always find it odd that the people claiming exposure is okay, are the ones not contributing anything original to magic. NO disrespect, but you spend a few years working on an idea, to have a bunch of kids rip off the idea by clicking a button – when you invested time and energy into the creation. These same kids talk about respect on forums...when they obviously have no respect for magic.

    Jon Racherbaumer said it in Genii best – we used to ogle, now we Google.
    Personally, I hate doing magic for the Youtube generation magician, because they see something – can be FRIED by it, but won’t react, because they go home and look it up. As a kid, I remember being excited over the secret, it made us special and unique, and it connected us to have something to sit and share on what we have learnt in our life journey with magic – who we learnt from and all we share is through the computer. Our magic isn’t about connecting...unless you count your internet connection as a legitimate form of connecting – magic is about how big your hard drive is....or what you searched on Youtube.

    Jason – I have been in magic for a decade – I have seen the conventions, in meetings, meeting new magicians – it is sad. Magic has changed, and really not for the better – youth don’t understand how to progress in magic anymore, because they learn METHODS, but not magic – they learn tricks, but lack knowledge in how to make it a memorable moment of magic. They rely on shock value of the effect, but have NO clue how to make it an unforgettable experience that includes them. I think it was Ortiz that said something about the magic being the movie – but the magician needs to be the actor in the movie...not the screen (or projector for a more precise analogy) that the movie is played on (or plays it). If you rely on the magic to do all the talking...then all they will remember IS the magic, and not you – so when they look to hire...and magician will do – when people call me – they ask for ME, not, “We are looking to hire a magician” – as A MAGICIAN can be found in the phone book and charge you nominal fees...but when people want ME – I can charge a phenomenal fee and they know I am worth it...because I am the show...not just my tricks.

    Magic is still alive in the trenches. It is alive with the real pro’s that don’t want Youtube education, but the real education on magic. Everyone has different learning standards...some like to learn how to do things from Youtube videos from a 3rd party source – I would rather learn from the creator, on why he did what he did, and how he came to create his effect. I would rather keep the secret to make my (and the creators) efforts valuable, rather than learning all there is and
  19. Eh, people who say that usually are trying to justify what they are doing. They'd rather not believe they were doing a dick move and pretty much ruining their own careers. (which is exactly what the Masked magician did. I seriously wonder how many people re-hire the guy after he's already told them how everything is done.)
  20. I doubt that otherwise he wouldn't get hired for gigs.

    I also doubt kids are really exposing things simply because they want to show that magic is nothing new. Otherwise they wouldn't be doing it themselves. I mean come on. Why would they learn something just to expose it. It doesn't make them look any better. In fact it makes them look pretty stupid.

    I had a conversation with a friend of mine who isn't into magic and when he talked about The masked magician, his words were pretty much "Why would somebody do that? It's freaking stupid.."

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