Getting a Vegas show/Performing on the Strip…What’s it take?
I have heard multiple times here that playing Vegas is a bought experience. I have also been asked what it takes to do a Vegas Show. I do a Las Vegas Hypnosis show, Hypnosis Unleashed. Here are some of my thoughts:
I have heard that you can open anywhere for $500,000. First of all major casinos are pulling a profit of 1Million a day. I am a smaller indy casino that will still clear over 75Mil in casino revenue this year (or over $205,000 a day). What would be more profitable than a bought show? A bank of slot machines and a blackjack table would.
You have a show and some capital and you want to play in Vegas. Ok, let’s start. Step one is talking to the entertainment director of that casino. She is going to have to approve your show before we can even get to another step. By the way, she gets at least 10 calls a week with people pitching her the next great thing. Also, if she hears “world’s greatest” anything she is already tuning you out. If you were the world’s greatest anything she’d know that, you wouldn’t ever have to tell her.
For some reason she likes what you have to say. Now she wants to see you live. Not a DVD that can be edited, live. So you will have to get into a banquet room for a night and fill it. Ticket brokers are not going to sell your one nighter. Good luck getting your crowd there. Offer it as a free show you say? How many people on the strip and in the casino are offering you something ‘free’ every 15 seconds. Good luck getting their attention.
Why does she have to see you live? You have money. Well the casino has more money and doesn’t want their reputation getting hurt by having you there or creating a conflict with another show or the casinos theme. But congratulations you talked to her, she thought you were a pro and you made a show happen out here and she liked it. Now what?
Well now you have to put together a proposal. Easy, I propose to bring in 100 paying people a night because I will have ticket sellers sell them and timeshares give them at a discount! Great plan. But the ticket broker won’t sell your show till they have sent someone to audit it. Why would they do that? If they don’t sell my tickets they are losing commissions. Yes, but if your theater is crap or the show doesn’t live up to what it is billed as they will have to issue refunds and lose that client from now on. Getting the ticket brokers is a step FAR past getting the room.
Well you have done it, you sent a proposal and she likes it! Sweet! Now she forwards it on to her bosses. Uh-oh. Does the CEO not like hypnosis shows because he saw a bad one once? Is it against his religion? Will it offend a demographic he wants to bring in? Does he know someone he would rather see in there?
This is all before they even look at you financially or talk money at all. Now you get to make a theater, get ads, get the casino to support it and 1000 other daily thing. It takes more than money to make it out here and money is no assurance it will work when it’s open. After all “Americas Got Talent” has more money then you and they closed.
But let’s say you get open. What does it take to do a Vegas Show? This has nothing to do with one nighters, corporate events, etc. This is about doing a nightly ticketed show on the Vegas Strip.
You are about 15 years from your first show away from being prepared to do a show nightly on the Vegas Strip. The last 5 years you had better have been doing 100+ shows a year in front of the demo graphic you intend to sell tickets too. You need that level before you are even close to ready. Before that you are not prepared for damn near anything and everything that can (and will) go wrong on stage.
Ready or prepared for what? First, ready for any situation that comes up. We could be talking about the drunk, the heckler, the over participator, the dead crowd, the over eager crowds, any crowd member at all. I am not talking about your volunteers I am talking about the people just sitting in the audience right now. Can you get in front of any of them and do a show with confidence? Because you will get all kinds of crowds and none of them are allowed to surprise you at this level.
Is your staging ready? Do you fidget with lights or sounds? Do sound cues load oddly? Is everything smooth from a technical stand point EVERYTIME? Are you sure that everything will flow without a hitch?
Is your material bullet proof. Do you know it inside and out? You will have a bad night. Your show needs perform strong in front of a bad crowd and a good one. You are going to be judged by your audience every night (especially now with all the review sites). Are you unique and do you live up to your billing? If you are a COMEDY hypnosis show are you funny? Not just your skits, but you and your material. You will have to generate Laughs Per Minute (L.P.M.). If people aren’t laughing for 2secs every minute and 6-8secs every 3 minutes you will be sunk.
See, here is the big difference performing on the Strip. You asked people to pay money. They paid 100% of what you asked them to. They could have done ANYTHING else that night. I mean anything. They picked you over a Cirque show, over the band they love, over the Broadway play and over the comedian they watch on TV. They picked you. So you need to be better then all of those other choices. This is how they will judge you. I acknowledge in my show that tickets to see me run $1800-$2600 a piece because you flew to Vegas, you are staying in a hotel, eating in our restaurants. This isn’t a show this is part of their Vegas experience. The expect laughter and flawless.
I don’t care if you do a family show or you try to do the most ‘adult’ show in the universe. I don’t care how you put people under. I care about this: Is your show a unique experience they will feel they couldn’t get anywhere else that night and did you get L.P.M.? It’s not about making an audience member ‘feel something with your power’ it isn’t ‘how fast’. It’s did they laugh and feel that it was worth their vacation time to experience this?
Remember right now people are lucky to get a week off and lucky to be able to afford show tickets. If my show is $40 a ticket a husband making $20 an hour had to work 3 hours (after taxes) to afford one ticket. He had to work 5 hours to take him and his wife. So he had to work almost a full day to come to my show not including drinks. If my show doesn’t make him laugh and forget all of that, and make him forget that he could have done 525 other things that night (tripadvisor lists 526 activities in Vegas) he is going to be pissed that he wasted his money.
Get bullet proof with your show. Make sure your show is unique. You will NEVER confuse me Anthony, Marc, Terry Stokes, or Michael Johns with each other. We are all VERY different Las Vegas Hypnosis Shows. Be the best you there is. Be sure that you can handle 100% of audiences. Because if you make that opportunity happen, if you get that shot and you’re not tight and generating L.P.M. that door won’t open again.
As the talent booker for the Tonight Show told Jeff Dunham “Better to get here 5 years too late then 5 minutes too early”.
All the best,