It’s said that a good magician never shares his secrets; but it’s also said that a good YouTuber shares everything (that might not be true, but hey, that doesn’t stop them). So what happens when you’re a little bit of both?
YouTube magicians have come under fire this week, as representatives from the Magic Circle have warned that videos of tricks and tutorials on the site are damaging to the future of live magic. The Telegraph reports that prestigious Circle member Jamie Raven is of the opinion that sharing tricks on YouTube for “the obsession of online profile” could prevent amateurs from learning important skills like misdirection and audience interaction.
“When they first start learning, if their sole aim of the game is to get likes and views and shares, technically there are issues,” claims Raven. “If they learn just how to point a camera they learn tricks, but will never learn what magic is.”
While The Telegraph had a lot to say about magicians who use YouTube regularly, they failed to speak to any to even out the discussion. But don’t worry, that’s our job. Anyway, meet Steven Bridges, who disagrees.
Steven is part vlogger, part magician, and full-time street performer. When he isn’t wowing his 100,000-subscriber audience and fellow creators with tricks, he’s doing them for crowds in central London; so you could say he has the best of both worlds.
We had a chat with Steven about his opinions on tricks and tutorials on YouTube, how he maintains the balance between magic and growing his audience, and where he gets some of his inspiration…
Why do you think the inner circle have problems with YouTube as a platform to learn and/or demonstrate new skills?
From what I understand, the Magic Circle and Inner Circle’s primary goal is to keep the secrets of magic secret. So when people teach magic on YouTube for free it goes against that objective.
I personally don’t think that magic tutorials on YouTube are a good thing. They make magic secrets too accessible. I’ve done performances before when someone has come up to me and said ‘I know how you did that, I saw the explanation on YouTube’. Everyone who wants to should be able to learn magic, but it’s not good for the industry for magic tutorials to be so easily accessible on YouTube.
Magic performances on YouTube have always gotten a bad rap from other magicians. Maybe because there are a lot of performers who are filming themselves doing magic when they’ve not practiced it enough? But I don’t think that’s a fair representation of the medium. There are a lot of phenomenal magicians on YouTube who can and do regularly perform live.
YouTube is a medium, just like television is a medium, or radio, or live performing. I don’t think it makes sense to criticise the medium. Criticise the performances on a case by case basis.
How much does YouTube factor into your long-term career as a magician?
It hugely factors into my career. Building a successful YouTube channel is the end goal. It allows me so much creative control and freedom. As well as a great opportunity to connect to the people watching. I’m planning on putting a live show next year and selling tickets to people who have watched me on YouTube that want to see me live.
I think it’s really important to note, that just because someone performs magic to the camera, doesn’t make them a bad live performer. I perform close-up magic at gigs, street shows, stage shows, street magic for YouTube and magic to the camera. By trying so many different mediums I have learned a heck of a lot about myself as a performer and become a better magician. If I didn’t do magic on YouTube, I would not be as good a performer live.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
That’s a huge question! Derren Brown, Cyril Takayama, Will Smith, Lady Gaga, Russell Brand & Conor McGregor.