Multiple times a week, I get THE call. It’s the call that begins with the most revealing question about this person’s level of seriousness in hiring a magician…”How much do you charge for a show?” I don’t think I will ever get to a point where I don’t have some level of amazement when I’m asked this. To me, that’s like walking onto a car lot and asking the salesman, “How much do you charge for a car?” Can we agree, there’s a lot of factors that come into play? One of the biggest mistakes people make when hiring a magician is making the assumption that all local magicians are the same. They’re not all the same and there are some ways that you can very methodically rule out the bad ones and settle on a good one. Well, I would like to give you a little insight with just a few tips on what your focus should be when you hire a magician.
What type of event are you having?
Ok, maybe you don’t need David Copperfield, but if you have a corporate function, the last thing you want to do is hire some inexperienced magician that may come out and say something inappropriate or just come across as extremely unprofessional. I’ll be the first one to say, if you’ve got a very important corporate event, get the best you can afford. Don’t bring $300 to the table and expect a performer that will get a standing ovation.
Who is your audience?
This seems like common sense, but have to consider who your audience is going to be. I walked into an all-adult corporate event one time and saw a clown walking around, pulling gags on people. Granted, some of the adults were laughing, but overall, there seemed to be this awkward feeling that followed that clown everywhere. Don’t hire children’s entertainment for adults. That also works the other way too. If you’re having a show just for kids, you don’t want to get someone that mostly entertains adults. They may not be able to bring their material down to a level that kids will understand.
Avoid low-budget “party companies” like the plague!
I don’t think any one source has been responsible for more bad magic shows than those party planning companies that can provide everything from pony rides, to cotton candy, bounce-houses, face painters and magicians. In all seriousness, the magicians are sometimes high-school kids, nothing wrong with that because that’s when I started. However, the high school magicians, as I have met a few of them, really don’t have any big interest in magic. It’s just a weekend job that pays decent and they really don’t have to work hard. Because I knew an owner of one of these companies, I learned that in most cases, he doesn’t know which “magician” he’s going to send out to do the show. That really cheapens the idea of a professional magician.
What do others says?
Once you’ve narrowed down your search for magicians, start looking at reviews. Reviews can tell you so much about a performer. A lady last week called and booked me for a very high paying event. I asked her specifically if she had seen my promo video. She replied, “No. I didn’t need to after I read your reviews. We want you.”
Can they customize?
A professional magician can customize a show to add an extra element to your event. Sometimes the customization is used to get a message across or to introduce a product. This is why the pros are more expensive. They customize…and they do it well.
Finally, the big question is…What are you doing wrong?
Once you have found the right magician, I have some disappointing news…chances are, he’s already booked. The reason? Most people make a huge mistake and if you take one thing away from what I’m saying, let it be this: Don’t book the entertainment last! This past week, I had two people try to book me on two of the most in demand nights of the year. The punchline is, they were trying to book me on those nights, less than two months in advance. When you know you’re having an event and you’ve nailed down the location, the first thing you should book is the entertainment. I can almost guarantee, if you try to book a true professional just a few weeks in advance, you won’t get him. When I’ve had some of the bigger corporations book me, they were making initial contact sometimes 8-12 months in advance. Also, keep this in mind…the busiest time for magicians (and many entertainers) is October-December, with fall festivals, Halloween parties, Thanksgiving banquets, Christmas Parties, and New Years Eve get-togethers. It’s never a bad idea to find out the performer’s availability before you set the date of the event.
I wish you the best, especially now getting into the busy season. However, don’t let that discourage you! You can often find a magician that is able to book something last minute if they have a gap in their schedule. Remember, get the best you can afford! It just might save you a lot of disappointment! I hope all your events are great this season!