As a member of multiple professional performer associations, many times I come across a fellow performer who asks me why I waste my time and money to belong to such organizations. Well, that’s a fair question and I’ll give you the answers in this little article. And yes, there are as many answers as there are reasons.
First, let me tell you why I titled the article the way I titled it. The first part, “Why I pay My Dues” will answer that question. I added the second part, “When I’ve Already Paid My Dues” because I have been a full time, professional performer for three decades. So, by virtue of my time in the biz and the miles I’ve put on the road, I can say that I have paid my dues. That statement is not meant to be arrogant or egotistical in any way, but let’s face it, the entertainment business is a tough one and even someone with five or more years in the game has paid a big part of “their dues,” so to speak.
During my time and mileage in this showbiz game, I have learned a lot about what it takes to make it, what it takes to be good, what it takes to do better, what it takes to get booked and re-booked, and what it takes to survive. As entertainers, mainly solo entertainers, or as some would call us solopreneurs, we are for the most part all alone and on our own little respective islands. We may get lucky and run into a fellow entertainer that we know when we are on the road and our gigs overlap, or we are fortunate enough to strike up a new friendship with someone we meet at a gig, but for the most part, we are all alone.
Some of us are lucky enough to be asked to present at our trade conferences where we are able to hang out with our friends and fellow entertainers for a few days, but again, after the conference is over, we are once again alone. I suspect you are seeing the theme of being alone here, so that my friends is the first reason why I belong to associations or trade organizations. If nothing more than fellowship, camaraderie and let’s face it, sometimes commiseration. Yup, sometimes it’s just great to share horror stories from the road and know that we are not the only ones living those nightmares. Belonging to these organizations keeps me from feeling, you guessed it… alone.
COLLABORATION IS KEY
So that’s an easy reason to see, but now for the others. There are four other major reasons, but we’ll start with one of my favorites: collaboration. Any good association or organization is set up to foster open communication and collaboration. Collaboration can be as simple as a forum in the group where members can bounce ideas off each other, ask questions without fear of ridicule, and share their knowledge in the form of new techniques or discoveries, or something they experienced and want others to learn from. There are still far too many performers that refuse to share with who they see as their competition for fear that said competition will steal their ideas. In reality, collaboration can only help those ideas blossom and grow into even bigger and better ideas. When you come from a mindset of prosperity and abundance, rather than fear and scarcity, you are respected more and don’t really have to be as concerned about others stealing your ideas. The organizations I belong to foster this very mindset.
A COMMUNITY THAT SUPPORTS AND CHALLENGES
Along those same lines, another reason I choose to belong to organizations is to be supported by my peers. When I agree to join and belong to any particular organization, I look for two types of support. I look for an organization that not only supports but also challenges me. There was a huge research project I heard about years ago and forgive me for not remembering the name of the study, but their research concluded that a good organization would support you, but a better one will support and challenge you. Challenge you in such a way that you want to do better and want to constantly improve. Fortunately, the organizations I belong to subscribe to this way of thinking in their respective communities. Look at it this way, supporting its members is only good for a short period of time until they become stagnant and then it is necessary to challenge the members to push themselves to improve and evolve into something even better.
TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER THAN WE ARE AS INDIVIDUALS
My next reason is super simple to grasp: together we are stronger than we are as individuals. Being part of something bigger than us helps us, as a whole, accomplish more. This is true on so many levels. We create a bigger awareness as a large group because our voices carry further. More people are exposed to our craft because there are more of us out there offering public performances. We can protect our craft from unjust rules and regulations by having a bigger lobbying base and by educating our clients and people that come to our shows about how hard it is to be an entertainer, that it is not just the glitz and glamour that the media or their own perception portrays, and how much we need their continued support of live entertainment in a day and age of live streaming and digital downloads. Together we can collectively strive to create and maintain a certain code of ethics or standards, whether they are written or just passed on through our actions, that will eventually become the standards for the way our profession and the people in it choose to exist.
LEAVING A LEGACY
Lastly, and perhaps one of my biggest reasons to belong to an association or organization, is to be able to leave a legacy for those that will follow in our footsteps. Let’s face it, none of us would be entertainers if we didn’t first see a show. A show that was performed by someone who put in the time, someone who put in the mileage and bled sweat and tears, someone who has paid their dues. Being a member of an association that supports and challenges their members, fosters collaboration, understands the importance of banding together, and one who is interested in passing the torch and paying it forward, allows us to keep the legacy of entertainment alive. None of us would be able to do what we enjoy doing so much on stage if it wasn’t for those that came before us and paved the pathway for us to go down. I know that when my career has reached its end and I have taken my final bow, that after the curtain closes, that the next act will be ready to take the stage, follow in our footsteps and those that came before us, to keep our craft of hypnotic entertainment alive and well.
About the Author:
Michael C. DeSchalit is a full-time Stage Hypnotist and Magician. He has over 5,000 performances to his credit with a career that spans over three decades (20 years as a hypnotist and 30 as a magician). Michael is a Member (30 years) and Past Regional Vice-President of the Society of American Magicians, a Member and Order of Merlin of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, A Performing Member (25 years) of the Academy of Magical Arts and Sciences (The Magic Castle, Hollywood), and A founding board member and current treasurer of the International Stage Hypnotists Association. Michael has trained over 300 stage hypnotists from 13 countries worldwide and maintains a rigorous 200 plus shows per year schedule.