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Thread: Lasershows as a full time job.

  1. #1
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    Default Lasershows as a full time job.

    Getting deeper and deeper into lasershows let me start thinking about quiting my job and dedicate all my time to lasershows. I realized that I dont have time for my regular job. Plus my lasershows schedule is starting to get into week days. There a lot of ideas to implement and graphics to draw and because of my regular job...no time for all those ideas and graphics. How hard can it be to move away from the boss and regular pay check to something I love and something that will bring me enough money to stay alive. Im booked every Friday Saturday and Sunday (and Thursday if I quit my job) for about 3 months ahead which will be enough to stay alive not to die from hunger and have a leakless roof above my head. Should I move forward or should I have some backup of regular job.

  2. #2
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    This is my dream too
    But for now I really can't imagine to live with lasershows...

    It's a risk to take. If you think that you can earn enough money with that, it's ok I think... Take an arrangement with your boss, or so

  3. #3
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    Default living the dream!

    good luck whatever you do.
    if it was me i would at least take a leave of absence and go for it.

    i have no mortgage or debt and though i like my job,it is low paying and they would take me back too if it came to that.

    with so many bookings already it sounds like a good time to jump.
    you are out there getting exposure all the time.
    surely you could keep the bookings coming.

    sounds like you could use a nice fat corporate show.
    there is a guy in this region who does cruise ship shows and the like.
    he boasted of a show he did for accura.
    they canceled a fireworks program and he did i think a ten minute show and got paid 20,000$

    are you doing mostly parties/dance events?
    with more time you could develop new clients.

    really,good luck and success.
    wes

    p.s. promoters here cannot afford our top level show even though i have cut prices.
    i usually go out with a dmx beam box and bounce mirrors.
    the damn thing is more work than the 100lb cubr because of all the back and forth from the control board to the laser to aim beams and then up and down the ladder to adjust mirrors.after setup and a 9 or 10 hour party my hourly rate is just higher than my kitchen job.
    lots more fun though
    with the cubr my buddy works with me and all the aiming is done from the laptop.
    Last edited by wes; 06-21-2007 at 07:09.

  4. #4
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    If you cant make enough money to exploit a full time graphic artist, Dont quit teh day job yet. Big corporate clients hire contractor type "event planners"
    who have experience booking events and dealing with tech staff, those 20K gigs need like 2x 30 watt yags and largeframe full color. Tubes and pump diodes die, and hobby level pricing and used medical lasers dissapear when your in a hurry to get back on line, ie you need to have 10-20K in reserve for emergency repairs and travel. Keep your weekend gigs and train a young person to run them , but DO NOT tech them how the technology works, you'll have a instant competitor who already knows your clients/. Unless your west coast US or East Coast, you'll have to be traveling all the time, better own a big truck.

    plenty of people exist to out bid you who lower the quality of the industry,
    and have a fraction of teh investment in the biz, I quit trying locally because of a competitor who has "recreational pharmacology" type funding, he got 2 millienas and a ktp 532 in a few weeks. Yet FAA seems to think its me (yeah, I',m legal) when he lights up the skys around the local airport.

    If your doing good right now, keep it that way unless you have other people's money to spend. Get a invester and write up a business plan. Maybe its just me , but once you go self employed, people dont want to hire you back,or at all, mainly because it makes you more business savy and more competent then most. Think clearly before you ditch: social security, health plan, stock options, chance of promotion. Assuming your in the US. In europe, South America where promoters are not so cheap, then I'd say go for it, here there is always someone to outbid you or try to out tech you, ie what do you have that a LED wall or 14 modern moving lights doesnt? Can you offer the whole package, lasers, sound , lights, pyro? Can you afford to grease the palms of promotors and officials (yeah, thats capitalism at its finest)

    Can you afford the fact that quality American females want to see a steady pay check and a firm roof over their head, or will ditch you in a heartbeat, but easily can stick you with bills for the kid you dont see anymore? It costs mucho more to raise a kid if a lawyer and the state are involved. Can you make enough to have 2X the salery you need to pay each tech person you hire, ie by the time you pay workmans comp, insurance, social security and
    other costs, a 30K per year employee will cost you 60K$.

    The Second chapter of LMR's (L Michael Roberts, of Laser-FX fame) book on how to do laser shows, has one word in it in 24 point bold type and just one other sentence. Keep in mind LMR did this as sole source of income for 25 years. Quote "Can you make money doing laser shows? NO" end entire chapter.

    I have a friend that is still a full time laserist, I'm constantly bailing him out when tubes die, psus fail etc. He's a artist, not a techie, and he's trying to support 1 kid, one wife and a habit. The habit is lasers.

    Most small businessmen I know are workaholics, they have to be. Do you like 9 to 5?

    Tough questions, no easy answers.

    Steve "I've been there and its rough, I wish I was still doing it" Roberts

  5. #5
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    sounds wise and experienced.
    i hope it doesn't seem i am hijacking this thread.
    as you mention these things mixed gas,it makes me think how it would suck to have something that is a lot of fun become a demanding "job".

  6. #6
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    your not hijacking it.

    Its cool if you can make it a hobby that pays, is legal, doesnt place you at risk of lawsuit, and burns weekends. Bany employers will give you flex time if they think it will be cheaper to keep you and if your happy. Goin it alone is the problem, you need to speed 10-20% of your earnings on marketing and doing cold calls. Plus you need to fold back funds for the rainy day, orphens and widows and pump lamps account.

    If you can find a invester who likes your art, and already has the business framework set up, but will let you run the show, its wonderful. Most small laser companies team up to to do large projects. If you thrive on stress, showday is the best day of your life. I however lost the ability to thrive on stress as I got older. Day job starts looking mighty attractive then. in his case, he may be 1. happy, 2 have enough connections to get constant work, 3, maybe he'll marry a wealthy social partner who'll say "go have fun and live your deam, I dont like you moaning about the house on weekends" many, many variables. Or he may land a planetarium gig, or a multiclub install.
    His fate is his fate, if he goes in informed.


    I just worry if he's never ran the finance side of a business, he may be in for a shock. Call me a sarcastic Ghost of Xmas past. You get either "conservative" or "Sarcastic" by being in the line of fire.

    Me, I like part time laser teching and syetem engineering. Get on a plane, go help out my buddy when he has a big show. I love to Play roadie for a weekend. The final calls and paperwork are his, I just need to show up and do my best fixing last minute broken cables and software problems. Thats a riot and keeps your skills up.

    Its just small business is hell until it becomes a medium business with good employees you can delegate to, then its fun again. Spending other people's money is also fun, maybe he can find a existing lighting company that wants to expand into lasers. When I did my first install, things started to go wrong, the building wasnt done when he scheduled me to be there. The customer laid a printout on my rental car one night during the install, a magazine ad in a club trade publication, it said:

    "Used laser system, 10K complete, available right now, American model 68B laser, we've remodeled and no longer need it, Florida area, will help install"

    I was in Tampa at the time and barely making enough to fly home after some whoopses beyond my control, Running way behind, with just myself and no tech help with me. That can be a real wakeup call.

    One other time I got hired to install a used system by a local laser broker in a city half a continent away, for a new indoor football team. I needed the team owner on site to teach her how to run it, and since it was a city owned stadium, she needed to be there for each small thing, like water hookup etc.
    Her #1 player hit a wall and snapped his neck during a game, paralysing him for life. She turned and looked at me and said what do I do now? How can I learn the laser tonight? I said you need to go to the hospital right now and support your player, or you'll be in deep trouble and have a media disaster.
    Of course her show op was her husband, and he never learned either. She dropped payment on the system,having a sudden huge set of legal and medical bills. I was sweating bullets during the resulting lawsuit, as I had no business insurance and was freelance. They kept me out of it, Thank God.

    But there are good stories too, helping my buddy uncrate a new 2 watt solid state RGB with Cambridges and full blown Pangolin, Then doing his 1200 guest birthday rave with 5 other invited laserists, or doing roadie work and plane spotting for a show for 200,000 people over three days on a weekend, and then backstage at the Toronto Opera House was a treat! Hitting a 30 story building with a beam table mirror from 3 miles away with 20 watts!

    Getting a call from a local hospital to help fix a breast cancer diagnostics laser , finding they had 1000+ holographic films that had developed unreadable, and by switching wavelengths, I found a way to read all the discarded films from the study for them. Once I got a emergency call to pinch hit for a busy medical laser engineer, I drove 500 miles to fix a fiber on a retinal surgery system, and 4 folks got their detached retinas fixed that day! You sweat bullets working on medical gear, until the surgeon and the local biomed engineer sign you off, its gotta be perfect!. But It took two weeks for that smile to wear off. And you get a lot of friends who "owe you a beer". I know a lot of Germans and Russians now, if I ever get over there it will be a heck of a fun vacation.

    But it comes down to his choice, and its best if he makes a informed one!

    Steve

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    If you can find a invester who likes your art, and already has the business framework set up, but will let you run the show

    Actually this is a case. Its entertainment company who needs lasers. But I still run the show. Also all booking and stuff are done for me. I basically install my 2 1W full color CTs hooked them up to my Lasergraph DSP and do the show. Show ends I get payed and go home. Im not shooting high. And 1K people is more then enough for me. Also Im not planing to higher anyone. First Lasergraph is very complex piece of hardware. Second I love the lasers. Every time I do the show i pick up my remote controller and go to the far side of the venue and enjoy the show myself while having a drink. Plus I meet a lot of new people. This includes a lot of girls so thats why Im not married not in relationship and dont have kids. I used to work for a international laser company. I traveled a lot and even visited LOBOs headquarters. Then company went bust mainly because of poor financial management. When you fly high the drop fast and painful.!

  8. #8

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    Hi Guys,

    From South Africa, some info for those that might be interested.
    In South Africa there is only 3 companies that specialize and can do laser shows. I am currently trying to enter the market, have 2 lasers 2W green and 1W rgb, but the South African Entertainment market is quite resistent to laser light shows as entertainment.
    I think it is due to people not knowing what a laser show is?

    I have been doing laser shows for 6 months now and have had a total of 6 paying customers. Would have loved if it could have been three times the interest.

    Therefore, I do not think I would quite my day job yet to persuite it full time.
    On the other hand if I were to be booked up for the next three months, I would have resigned already!

    Has anyone found a good way of drawing customers, getting more interest?

    Would like to here/ read your thoughts...

    Werner

  9. #9
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    Cool

    Do some charity shows for hospitals who have a gala for fundraising.People will then want lasers for their party will then see you. talk to maitre'd or event planners for major hotels. find the mid level people who make decisions, weddings, bat/bar mitzva (sorry for spelling ) Get on the raver/party websites/chatgroups.

    if the local movie theatre down the street is having trouble making ends meet, a 40 minute to two hour pop music or pink floyd show can help both sides.

    you basically have to get out and pound the flesh , American slang for going out and meeting people.

    6 in 6 for a beginner is marvelous

    Steve

  10. #10
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    perhaps take cosmic bowling up a notch with lasers.
    perhaps skating rinks too.
    you might not get paid much but it would help"expose"people to your show.

    i wanted to do outdoor advertising but my hometown would only allow 25 square feet as a maximum size.
    if you're not doing sky scrapers then a good lower power graphics projector should work fine.
    you could sell rotating slots and offer savings by signing on several clients with businesses in the same area.
    Last edited by wes; 06-21-2007 at 13:24.

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