Conjuring and Commercialism

Share and Share Alike: Read John W. Leblanc’s interesting piece on Filesharing and how it applies to Magic. I agree with most of what he has to say, but I do think that we are seeing a radical turn of events in today’s market, where the consumer is wanting more power in there buying decisions. For example no longer will we put up with having to pay excessive amounts for a music album that we may only want for one or two of our favourite tracks, now we can go and pick and choose the tracks we want, and even listen to previews of the tracks before purchasing.

I’m very much a book guy, which is now-a-days pretty much what I buy in magic, yes the odd DVD, download, trick and consumable, but mostly books, and then only ones from reliable authors, or ones that I want to use for researching a particular trick. Mike Close in his very last column in MAGIC magazine pointed out that the magic market is being flooded by mediocre products, not bad, not good, mediocre. Somone needs to take some responsibility, in vetting the products they sell, too many times I have seen the big distributors in magic churning out the crap with no quality control, anything to make a fast buck, never mind if its a slight variation or even worse a blatant copy. But along with that control should come IMHO more open marketing, yes you have to sell your products to us the consumer, but not at the extent of lies and deception, we are supposed to be doing that to our audiences for entertainment, we shouldn’t have to put up with it when we buy your products.

If I went to buy a new car for example, do you think I would do it sight unseen without a test drive? Would I go on the word of the sales-person telling me this was the best thing ever, and listing all the mouth watering qualities whilst conviniently skirting round its shortfalls. Yet everyday in the magic world we are bombarded by the latest all-singing all-dancing product that comes with quotes from top-names and has attached an un-ending number of impossible sounding claims, and is hyped up beyond fever pitch in certain quarters even before the product reaches the shelves. In fact lately the trend for some effects has been to even omit a proper description of the trick itself, with the apologetic view that it will give the game away… No more, I demand that as a consumer I be given a full and frank and honest description of the effect (yes even just from the audience view, but it must be an honest assessment, if there are multiple outcomes tell me, I don’t mind!) what if any skills are involved, what I might need extra to the trick to make it workable etc. If this spoils or gives away the trick, then maybe you should be thinking of another avenue to release this, maybe a magazine or in your latest lecture notes… I can hope!

Just recently a few studies have been carried out that suggest the downloading of MP3s does nothing in the slightest to harm the sales of albums, in fact quite the opposite, people are just becoming more wary because of the mediocre crap they have to wade through and are looking for more and more information before committing, I think in some ways we are coming close to this in Magic, with the advent of the necessary video-demo that seems to accompany every release and the huge message board threads that accompany nearly every new product. At least now I can see a performance of the trick before I buy, and even if I can recreate or back-engineer it I will buy it so I have the right to perform it, the honest thing to do, I guess that is one advantage of the bricks-and-mortar magic shops, the fact that the owner would tell you if the trick was for you, and what suited your skills, I have never really known that kind of scene, as in my lifetime living where I do the nearest shop that sells proper magic, is a few hours drive away… so I have always bought over the net, basing my purchases on getting all the information I can from magazine reviews, peoples online comments, demo videos etc.

I still want to see open, honest marketing, accompanied by all the information that I need to make a frank and well-judged purchasing decision, but I’m not holding my breath!