Looking for a Magician? Do the legwork yourself!
This article is not meant to preach or to admonish, but merely to point out an understanding of a prevailing trend. It is here as an insight into the apparent benefits and great drawbacks of comparison sites for entertainment and the “FREE“ quote system….!
These thoughts are offered for consideration of both consumers and professional or semi-professional performers alike.
The hypothetical situation is this; you have a function coming up at which you require the services of an entertainer ( a magician, a musician etc ). You want a number of quotes and options of entertainers for yourself or to present to a colleague or a client. You get on Google and do a search; one of the top hits is a site that a proclaims you can get 3 to 6 quotes for free on your job. Sounds perfect! Let the market do the leg work for you, right?
Well, maybe, but maybe not.
The notion of these websites to the consumer is this;
1) You can save money
By checking quotes from a number of performers, consumers can quickly compare to select the cheapest option for a lower-end budget and avoid the fees or commissions added on by an agency.
The truth, however, is not so simple…:
Mostly what these sites do is inflate the cost to the end user, without actually adding anything to the experience. Some website agencies are paid commission i.e. a percentage of the cost of the booking, and the artist naturally adjusts his fee to add what the extra will be on top of the commission that the website takes. The end result, the client ( you ) end up paying more by using these sites or alternatively, reject the quote outright as too expensive. An offshoot of this is that if many of the quotes from the artist are rejected time and time again, the artist becomes unlikely to respond to the site at all. The other option is that the artist absorbs the commission charge, which will result in giving enquiries made from that site a lower priority or consideration and again eventually she or he may not respond to the enquiries at all.
2) Variety and choice in one place
These websites operate to give as many choices as possible which means the quotes are from a number of different performers, giving comparison alongside one another to find the best performer at the best price ( - The hosting website naturally make more money from having as many performers as possible and a greater possibility of a strike rate; and as an added benefit have a great Google rating due to the algorithm of the number of websites and backlinks feeding to and from their site ).
However, what actually happens is that firstly you are presented with the illusion of choice, because in actuality this is a small representation of artists and may or may not have someone suitable for your particular function and need ( in terms of price point, quality and style ). This then causes what I call ‘a race to the bottom of the barrel ’. The performers second guess each other and try to win the job by lowering their fees. What eventually ends up happening is that you are only ever going to get a certain level of professionalism and expertise; as the professional who quotes his fee on these sites generally has a greater chance of failure to win the job, as the consumer is looking only for the best price. The professional performer ends up not answering these enquiries or only casually looking at the enquiries coming in, as there is no logical sense in paying ( in time or money ) to respond to enquiries which you have little chance of winning. It seems apparent to the artist that the result of websites like this is that the only important criteria for the consumer is that it fits into a budget. This is the race to the bottom of the barrel; he or she who is willing to do the job for the least amount of money, wins most jobs; paying for the leads to boot. But to be clear, the result of this model of internet quote shopping, is the professional performer eventually disregards these websites as a waste of time and money to her or him.
3) Convenient and time-efficient
In a short time with a few clicks and a little information entered you can get a number of quotes with hardly any effort at all. This allows you to save the time and hassle of trawling through dozens of individual websites.
This can be true to some degree for the consumer but in actuality, there is all of what I have outlined above. Or there is the other model of website offering entertainers which works like this: - a website that requires the artist to pay for each individual ‘lead’ before they can quote. A number of things happen because of this ( & and here, as with all of this, I am speaking from personal experience ). As a consumer, you think you are getting a good deal because of the illusion of choice and the supposed legwork being done for you. But again it just manufactures the situation outlined in the above 2 sections. The quotes coming to you via email allows you to compare and choose without the hassle of having to contact each performer or artist individually, but this may or may not happen. Sometimes a performer will look at the basic information entered and just make a judgement call that it is not worth his or her time and the $5 to $10 dollars for the lead. On some of these sites I have seen job leads sit there for over a week with no response from any entertainer or magician at all. The result - the consumer is still at square one and has wasted days waiting for the website to do it’s magic!
As a side note to all of this, there is another issue that arises;
No expertise - in the past there was expertise as well as quality control, through an entertainment agent or agency. Through experience and knowledge, an entertainment agency could recommend to a client the best person for the job, based on feedback, experience and ( a lot of the time - first-hand ) knowledge of the performer and their style of performance, experience and skill that they had to offer. The agents job and livelihood depended on it; they were only as good as their ability to deliver the right entertainment experience to their client. This model of business hasn’t disappeared and I believe is coming back in a new and more defined way. There are some excellent entertainment agencies out there, but the prevalence of the agency is not what it once was, and again there is both good and bad in that. My reasoning and understanding of which might be best left as another blog for later.
In conclusion; the result of this model of internet quote shopping is that the professional performer eventually disregards these websites as a waste of time and money to him/her. And so ultimately, the consumer loses. They lose the quality and the choice of the professional performer who can see little benefit in the time and or money spent to respond to quotes from these sites.
In this new and ever changing frontier internet landscape the moral of the story is to search just a little longer and do the legwork for yourself. If you spend the time to search for a magician, an entertainer for your needs, the chances are you will find them …. Contact them directly. By talking to the performer themselves you will know whether or not they are right for you.