Monday, April 21, 2008


So with the influx of technology made to rip, burn, and duplicate media over the last decade or so, is it no surprise that we here in the magic world are not exempt? I think not. I have talked about this before, but I do want to make some points.. neither for nor against. Just something for yer mind to chew on for a bit.

Tim Ellis, (Who I have no beef, chicken, or any other yummy dead animal flesh with), keeps tabs on people who are generally exposing and ripping off magic. Kudos to him. Stand up for what you believe in and alla that. However, in a recent post he tosses out some figures that, for the most part, are not wholly true. I would like to clarify a bit in the name of fairness.

"...don't forget the way the world works, after the cost of producing the DVD (which, when pressed and printed is between $3-5) all of these other people need to get a slice of the profit: (Now I don't know what it's like in Australia, but over here I can get DVD's for $1.13 to $1.25 a disc per 1000 units.)

* Magician who created and performed these effects.
* Graphic artist who designed the cover art.
* Composers who wrote the music or royalty fees if existing music was used.
* Production crew for camera, sound, lighting and editing.
* DVD mastering costs.
* Wholesaler/distributor of the DVD.
* Magic shop owner or online store who sells the DVD.

(In todays world, those first three people are one in the same sans people who use royalty free music such as Opus 1.)

If you work down from $40 (though most are closer to $30):

* Retailer sells it for $40, but buys it from the wholesaler for $25. (Standard mark-up is usually 70-100% from wholesale to retail)
* Wholesaler buys it from the magician/manufacturer for $15 (note, again I'm using a low percentage mark up in this example).
(Jobber pricing is ballpark 60% off retail price.)
* From that $15 the magician pays $4 in producing the DVD (as long as he has over 1000 at a time made at once - and he pays for that up front - $4000 before he sells a single DVD).
(See above.)
* He's left with $11 from which he pays his graphic and music fees, plus the production fees if he hires a professional crew to shoot & edit his DVD." (Also see above)

Here is what he isn't telling you. A lot of places do drop shipping, which means they don't ACTUALLY have the item in stock. Also, there are only a handful of Wholesalers and the biggest one is Murphey's Magic who almost has a monopoly here in the states. They will place an initial order which will usually cover your duplication costs (200 units) with some profit to spare. Now, if yer a relative unknown, they won't make another order for sometime. However, any sales you make off your website or lectures, etc are DIRECT profit. If you pay $1.25 per DVD, then you can sell that sucker for 2$ and still make money off it. (Not much but you get my point) You also have to realize that MOST internet stores sell UNDER the suggested retail price because they haven't lost any money by having the product just sitting around their place of business, unlike a brick n' mortar shop. (Who all of this tends to hurt more than anything else.)

Mind you, places like L&L publishing make 2-3 disc sets because that's the ONLY way they make money off DVD sales. (That's also why their stuff is so bland and cookie cutter most of the time.) One DVD isn't a money maker for them usually.

Think about this tho', why do magicians still sell DVD's for 30+ dollars when Hollywood can crank em' out for 10-20$. Well obviously sheer volume of course... but it's also because they cost almost NOTHING to produce. In magic, with more and more access to technology that allow us to "Do-it-ourselves", it is cheaper and easier to find the ways and means to create these videos and other various merch. Gone are the days of "Hiring" graphic designers, studio space, and equipment. (Sure some people still go about it that way, bit thaz not my point.) So why do we charge so much for a DVD? Is it to make a profit from our audience.. or is it to make money of the wholesalers?

If you charged 15$ retail for a magic DVD, you would get nil from places like Fun Inc. and Murphey's. Problem is a jobber price is usually reserved for orders of a gross or more. After their initial large order, you only get orders for 25-50 units at the SAME price structure which is actually very wrong, but us magicians don't complain. We're happy to make ANY money and get our product out there because we are filthy, filthy whores.

The market is flooded with merch and videos because it is so easy to do so. The opposite end of this is the kids who distribute the videos on websites and torrents do it because (Drum roll please).... IT'S SO DAMN EASY!! It's like inviting your friends over to watch a DVD you purchased. (If you have a few hundred friends that is) The argument is, you are sharing secrets and charging people lots of money to learn such secrets. Once that info is leaked out for free in ANY way shape or form, it's an honor system that if they liked it, they will buy their own. (Tho' that way of thinking I feel is going the way of the Dodo.) This is the danger of living in a world that movies like Lawnmower Man 2 and The Matrix have tried to warn us about. Instant gratification society.

To wrap this tirade up, I am going to quote from above again. ""...don't forget the way the world works". No matter what steps we take, no matter what new technology comes out, there will always, and I wanna repeat that for clarification, always WITH WINGS be people who are better and smarter who hate the establishment more than the people who get paid to sit behind a desk thinking of ways to make our technology "Safer". (Hell sometimes, they are the same people.)

Piracy and exposure is like a Hydra. You can cut off one or two heads, but more will always grow back to replace it. I salute those people fighting their fights. You kick it's ass. Just don't forget that things may not change anytime soon. If it does, it will do so on it's OWN volition and not your will alone. THAT is the way the world works. As it has been, as it shall always be.

As above... so below.


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