Harvest Is Over – Better Get the Ladder

When business is good and customers are eager to buy, it sure is a great time. Business seems bountiful and everlasting. You’re hot. The phone is ringing, orders come through a cornucopia of the internet, customers stand in line… easy pickings… like harvest time in an orchard and all you have to do is just walk over to a tree and pluck another apple… one customer after another… you feel that you are a business genius. Here’s some advice from someone who has been there: better enjoy it while it lasts.

Because, after a while, the orchard is picked over. Sometimes there is a drought. Insects or disease or a frost attacks the crop. Customers now are standing in line somewhere else for the next shiny thing. The market swings in other directions away from you. The easy pickings are long gone. Customers have dwindled. You are no longer a genius, what oh what to do? Wringing your hands doesn’t help.

In the orchard, some starve because they can’t get to the harder-to-reach fruit, even standing on your tippy-toes, sigh, and give up; survivors build ladders to climb higher. In business, some give up and close shop. Those who have the resources and the gumption to survive evolve by changing product, marketing harder and smarter, perhaps even changing their business model. They change their offerings and bring out new, improved colors or sizes or capacities or groupings. They take groups of products or services into and put them into different combinations or bundles with new pricing.

Survivors have a way of going after an increasingly more elusive harvest. They have larger crops in good times when the picking is easy and can sustain themselves when there is a drought or other calamities. Whether the tool of survival is a ladder, a marketing plan, a customer retention plan, customer service training, sowing, fertilizing, weeding, pruning, and harvesting… it all needs to get done year after year.

Increase your reach now, plan your evolution when business is good, before the drought, before customers defect for the latest fashion, before the next shiny thing comes and replaces you in the marketplace, before something else gains favor. Always be aware of events that arise and affect your market and circumstances beyond your control. Keep your eyes and ears tuned to the changes happening around you and your business. Do that and you will survive and prosper in good times and bad.

Visual Arts-As Old as Civilization

For as long as man has been alive, he has observed the aesthetics and beauty of life. It seems that it is innate in us to create and change and this has been demonstrated throughout the ages. Even the cave man recreated his vision and told a story via stonewalls.

All art is a communication! The artist is creating his/her vision via any artistic outlet such as drawing, painting, sculptures, photography, graphic design or filmmaking etc.

It’s any art we see! The natural landscape is a powerful tool artists have used throughout time. We seem to want to recreate what we are looking at and at the same time change it to put our own nuances and character into it.

Art is not limited to drawing, painting, sculptures etc. There are the living visual arts such as the painstaking shaping of the Bonsai tree or creating the next beautiful hybrid rose. We started with the incredibly gorgeous vintage rose and now we literally have hundreds of different kinds of roses in various sizes, colors and fragrance.

Dancing, figure skating, gymnastics, ballet, and even acting are also considered visual art forms.

You are basically taking something that has been done before, or a piece of life, and are making it new by changing or adding your own character to the piece. That’s all imagination is!

Just in the 20th century alone we have created new forms of art such as art nouveau, pop art, ethnic art to name a few. The subject of art is so vast that there is literally no ceiling to creativity and that is what makes this subject so incredibly interesting.

Pop Music Producer Roadblocks to Success

Wannabe producers always have at least one fatal flaw. Now the flaw varies from person to person, but they basically fall under 3 categories. So to lets list out the rules to keep you in the game.

People Skills

Lets start with the granddaddy. This is a people biz hombre. You deal with people all the time, whether it be label execs, engineers, or the talent you are producing.

Because of this critical point your people skills will make or break your career. This may seem overrated if you come from the school of thought that says, “if I get a single it will be enough.” Honestly, maybe. But your success is so much more likely if you treat people in a way that makes them feel good.

That is what brings Rick Ruben success in this industry. That man is unquestionably the biggest thing on the scene. He has hits in all genres from Rap, to Country and people want to work with the cat because he makes them feel good, and alive.

Do you do this?

If not maybe its time to learn. Go get a copy of How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It could be a career changing book

Overshadowing

The second mistake that many produces make is to cast a looming shadow over an entire project. This is usually because the producer is a control freak. This type of producer has their fingerprints all over an album, and the artist feels suffocated by their presence.

Music is supposed to be an outflow of a vision. A song comes to life out of an artist, if they feel stifled by an overbearing oppressive regime you are not going to get the best production out of them. That is the truth.

Now, that does not mean that a good producer cannot point out flaws and errors, it just means that it should be done in a way that makes the talent want to change, not hole up and die.

Work on allowing the artist to breathe. Give them space to be an artist, but yet keep the project moving forward. Its tough, but hey that’s your job.

Limited Chops

The last area that hang up wannabe producers is a limited pallet of chops. This shows up in the inability to get the sounds, beats, or vocal takes because of lack of knowledge. A know-it-all attitude is a sure way to shoot yourself in the foot.

Why Does a Magician Wear a Tux?

This wonderful question has rarely bothered magicians for decades. It should. Some possible answers might include:

He is getting married today.
He just got off work as a waiter.
He is going to the prom.

Wait! The man is about to do magic. Surely anyone doing great magic wears a tux. It logically follows that a person dressed in attire not worn generally by the public in nearly sixty years must be a well trained and entertaining artist.

I encounter responses such as:

“People won’t know we’re magicians if don’t wear our uniform,” bemoan penguin-like prestidigitators.

“Real magicians must wear tuxes,” cries the part-time professional in his ill fitting and second hand attire.

The question of what magicians should wear has been around for more than a century. The correct answer has been around just as long. Unfortunately, many magicians don’t get it.

Jean Robert-Houdin, the father of modern magic, looked around at how his fellow magicians dressed. The common uniform for a “real magician” was to dress up like a wizard complete with a conical hat. Robert-Houdin chose to view magic as an art. He devised many wonderful effects. He would go out on a bare stage to present his magic dressed in formal evening attire. The attire was appropriate and commonly worn for evening theatrical productions. Instead of dressing in way completely different from his audience, Robert-Houdin dressed just like his audience.

The point being made is simple. If you want magic to be viewed as a fine art, take your performance and dress seriously. Let the quality of your magic performance speak to the level of your magic artistry. If you want to be a magic clown, then dress like a penguin.

What about Lance Burton? Great question, thanks for asking. Lance’s performing personality makes wearing a tuxedo appropriate for his performance. Mr. Burton consciously links back to magic’s historical roots. Figuratively speaking, he wears the mantel of magic passed down through the ages. He portrays the great magician out of our past. Lance performs classical magic effects while donning the classical magical attire.

This is completely different from the approach of 99.998% of the other magicians wearing tuxes. Most part-time professional magicians wear a tux without regard to their performing personality. The key to what to wear is your performing personality. Begin with the assumption that a tux is not an option. Examine the key elements of your performing personality that you want to communicate to your audience. Tailor your dress to consciously communicate those key elements.

Another factor to consider is whether you want to stand out or blend with your audience. Let’s say you want to blend with your audience. This is common approach for the restaurant or corporate magician. What will your audience be wearing? Try to dress a little above your audience.

Let’s say you want to stand out. Find ways to contrast with your audience that communicates positively to your performing personality.

For example, assume your performing personality is that odd middle aged uncle that all the kids love but make parents roll their eyes. You know the type, every family has one. His style sense will be decades out of style but he will be clueless that he isn’t the hippest guy around. If that is your chosen performing personality, then the performer’s style will match the outfit. The point again is that the outfit chosen by the magician must relate to performing personality.

Let’s get back to the original question. Why do magicians wear tuxes?

Nobody knows including the magicians. Know your performing personality. Select your dress to complement your venue and performing personality. Treat your magic performance like the artistic performance you want it to be.

Copyright © 2005 J.L. Siefers, All rights reserved.

J.L. Siefers has been performing great magic for years. He has written extensively on many topics in magic. He has shown hundreds of people how to successfully learn to do great magic tricks.

So Much Work for Just 60 Seconds

When you watch commercials, music videos, TV programs, or films, do you ever wonder who it is that handles the job of getting them on camera and how they’re put together? That’s the work of a video production company. There are really two kinds of companies that create video content. A technical production company may target details that the client isn’t interested in doing. They may do the things that come after the video is shot, the editing and the post-production. Or they may simply take the finished video and post it online. That’s one thing that a video production company may do.

Other companies are full-service. That means they do it all from start to finish, and post-production as well. A full-service company will do the creative development, then write the script. They’ll be responsible for locations and casting. They’ll produce, edit, and deliver the final product for posting. A company like this is totally hands-on; the client states what they want and the video professionals do the rest.

A commercial production company, as you may expect, has a specific focus. It creates short videos, 30 to 60 seconds, that are oriented toward commercial branding. They are all about promoting a product, a company, or a service; or getting a company’s name, brand, and message out in front of the public as widely as possible. A commercial production company creates videos to grab the public’s attention and interest, and to create excitement-“buzz,” as it’s often called. The company creates what are effectively “teasers” to bring in potential customers.

Commercial producers and their creative teams have to get excited about a client’s product, brand, or message. In this way they develop ideas that connect with the audience. Their process includes personally experiencing what the client is selling to create an understanding of the market and the customer.

The video producer’s job looks creative and exciting, and it can be. It is also a highly demanding and responsible job that calls for not only creativity but people and business skills. The producer might be thought of as a “creative problem-solver.” He or she is the leader of the process from pre-production through actual production to post-production. The producer is responsible for the planning, scheduling, and final editing of the project, and hiring the talent and the staff. He takes part in selecting graphics and audio and may actually write the script. He is the point of contact between the company and the client, facilitating all communications to make sure the project is delivered according to the client’s specifications. And of course, it’s the producer’s job to make sure everything is done on time and on budget.

It is very exacting work that a video production company does. You might not believe the amount of work that goes into a 60-second spot and the number of people it takes to pull it off. But these production companies know how to do it with the greatest effect.