Social Media Sorcery

Dear Friends:

I think you’re going to enjoy this, from one of our more recent additions to the McBride Magic family—Michael Tetro, better known just as Tetro. If you don’t know his work already, you will soon, as he is a real rising star in the magic world.

Social media is changing the art of magic whether we like it or not.

I’ve loved magic since I was a teenager. However, before I became a full-time performing magician in recent years, I co-founded a tech company that provided social media services to large entertainment brands like Hulu and CBS. I lived and breathed social for years, which gave me a unique perspective on the role it’s played on various industries, particularly how it’s changed the landscape of performance art disciplines like magic – for better and for worse.

When I started learning magic, there was no social media. I learned from books and DVDs, hunting in the library and magic shops for the best information. Now, social media is used as an educational resource for magicians across varying skill levels. An abundance of content, teachers, tutorials, performances, and new ideas are available at the touch of a button, making it easy for magicians to learn and share. This has certainly helped speed up the evolution of the art, as it’s lowered the bar for entry, and broken down barriers for people to connect with magic.

Social media is playing an important role, not only in people’s personal lives, but also in how their businesses grow and succeed – artists non-exempt. It’s how many brands and companies express themselves, and where many consumers discover and interact with content.

As a magician, social media has allowed me to share my art with a lot of people who might otherwise not have access to it, and spread awareness of what I do with minimal cost. I use it to share my journey going full time, and pursuing my passion, sharing videos of me performing, as well as more personal content. It is an online portfolio of my accomplishments which allows me to highlight and celebrate the progress of my career, and build meaningful and lasting relationships with my fans. Further, it has allowed me to connect, work, and collaborate with other artists and potential clients. Once you post something, you never know where it might end up – one day the queen herself might be watching your videos while sipping her tea in Buckingham Palace.

It’s important to recognize the responsibility of this opportunity and be cautious of what you put out there. 

What gives, can also take away

Unfortunately, abuse of this power has already caused problems for the magic community. We know and have suffered from too many magic reveals and exposures. By this I mean content that is not created with the intention of education or art, but rather for the exploitation of people’s curiosity, to maximize views and likes. Want to see a magic performance on YouTube? Due to the way the platforms’ algorithms operate, you’re likely to be shown how the trick works in the thumbnail image of a suggested video right next to the one you’re watching – regardless of whether you wanted to know the method or not. What’s even worse, these “reveals” or “magic exposed” videos are often cashing in on someone else’s intellectual property, which isn’t fair to the brilliant minds that invent the effects, the magicians who spend countless hours and dollars to learn them, or the audience members who revel in the mystery of it all. Abuse of other people’s intellectual property isn’t tolerated in other industries, and it shouldn’t be tolerated here, yet the systems, for the most part, are not advanced enough yet to protect against this.

What can we do? Well, for those beginning in magic, be cautious about what content you consume and what you post. You guide the algorithms not only for yourself, but for others as well. Seek out quality teachers, regardless of the platform. Start with an established educational source, like well-reviewed books. Arriving now are also dedicated streaming services made by magicians for magicians, like MagicFlix. Even better, find a magic school like the Magic and Mystery School to get a thorough education from trusted experts, who will help you establish a great foundation and good habits. There is no substitute for in-person real-time feedback. From there, you can further and supplement your education with social media. 

While it may be tempting to jump on the social media trends right away, remember to stay focused on your ultimate goals. Ask yourself, do you want to be a great magician that plays to people, or a magic-themed content creator that plays to the camera? Mix of both? While the algorithms encourage frequency (posting frequently), focusing on quality will always be better in the long run. There is a big difference between playing to a screen, and playing to a living, breathing audience. The greatest illusions are built upon the deepest truths, which can only be learned through studying the highest quality material, and learning from the best. If you spend the majority of your time training to astonish real people, you’ll be closer to making real magic.  

Social media can hurt or help our magic depending on how it’s used. It needs to be used consciously if it’s going to develop our art form, instead of exploiting it. It may be guiding our art in a new direction, one where secrets are harder to keep, but truth is harder to find. It is up to us to keep our magic strong.


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