Brandon Lawrence - Entertainer, Magician
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How To Hire A Magician

How to Hire a Magician:

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Why Hire a Magician?

Think back to the very first magic trick you saw that fooled you.  Do you remember what year it was? How old you were? Where you were?  Who performed it? How it made you feel?  Can you answer most or all of these questions? The fact is that well-performed magic, aside from its sheer entertainment value, can have a profound and transformative effect on an audience.  So much so that they will remember the birthday they attended, the wedding couple, the company party, or the corporate message at the sales meeting. They will attach that feeling of astonishment to that event. If you were planning an event, would you want your guests to remember it?

Here are examples of events and venues that magicians can be hired for:

Amusement Parks, Conventions, Associations Events, Birthday Parties, Cabarets, Carnivals, Casinos, Clubs, Circuses, Colleges, Community Shows, Consumer Exhibitions, Corporate Events, Country Clubs, Cruise Ships, Dinner Theatres, Fairs, Family Events, Festivals, Open Houses, Performing Arts Centers, Private Parties, Television, Weddings, and Restaurants.

 

Where Do I Find a Magician And How Do I Pick the Right One?

You might think, “But aren’t all magicians basically the same?”  Not at all. In fact magicians can vary greatly based on: performance character, technical skill, target performance venue, target demographic, experience level, and professionalism.  There are about as many types of magicians as there are types of restaurants. If your family is craving sushi would you take them to a pizza restaurant?

The best way to ensure that a magician is best for you and your event is to see their performance first hand.  Maybe you saw a magician at a wedding reception, office party or a birthday party. Stay after their performance and talk with them.  Magicians love to talk with their audience and listen for feedback. This is the time to ask them for their business card and let them know about any events you may have coming up.  They should ask you for your business card and offer to follow up with you regarding your event.

If you’re looking to book a magician and haven’t had the privilege of seeing a good one live, you’re likely to Google-search “Magician” along with your city/town to see who’s available in your area.  Prioritize the magicians with good, detailed reviews. Their listing should link to a professional, organized, website. Their website should have testimonials, a description of their services, photos, videos, and a clear way to contact them.  

Things to look for on a good magician's website:

  • Are there photos of real performances?  How is the audience reacting?

  • Do the photos and videos look up-to-date?

  • Does the website look up-to-date?

  • Do the testimonials look genuine?

  • Do they specialize in your type of event?

  • NOTE: Their website will not openly display their rates.

Aside from their website, a prospective magician should have some social media presence.  This shows that they engaged and maintain a relationship with their audience.  Check for profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. What you should be looking for when researching magicians online is not only evidence of successful past performances (through photos, videos, testimonials, and reviews) but also professionalism and organization.

I should also mention that there are websites (GigSalad, Thumbtack, and GigMasters for example) that offer booking and events services.  These sites are great ways to find additional information about a given magician, like reviews, photos, and videos. These sites are like virtual talent agents and take a fee off the top of each performance, either from the client or the talent.  In return they provide a uniform experience for both parties. I can tell you that many magicians (myself included), don’t rely on these sites either because they don’t like middle-men and these sites often don’t attract the clients they are looking for. Although it can be a benefit to have a third party make sure the transaction goes smoothly,  if you’ve done the proper research, the use of these sites is not needed. I can tell you that both magicians at the upper tier of their market and experienced event planners do not rely on these sites.

Who to Avoid:

Avoid a “jack of all trades” performer.  There are many magicians that advertise a range of “specialties” like kids parties, weddings, gospel magic, gambling demonstrations, balloon twisting, corporate parties, face painting etc..  Avoid these types of performers. They are likely to not be proficient in everything, which is a gamble for you. The saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”, applies here. Being great in any one area takes hundreds if not thousands of hours, and anyone that claims to do it all couldn’t possibly do it all exceptionally.  If you care enough about the success of your event to look for and hire a magician, exceptional is what you need.

Aside from the “jack of all trades”, avoid someone with poor interpersonal and communication skills.  Did they take 3 days to call you back after your inquiry? How are they over the phone? Are they listening to your needs or just giving you the same script they give everyone else?

How Much Should I Pay for a Magician?

A magician’s fee will vary due to a range of factors both specific to them (their expertise,  years in the business, technical skill, quality of service, average rent in the city/town) and specific to you (What type of performance is needed?  How many guests are there? What is the time commitment? How far ahead of time are you booking?). All of these factors make up a magician’s fee.

Keep in mind that in general, an entertainer’s fee is proportional to the quality of entertainment you will receive.  The quality of entertainment will directly relate to the success of the event. Across most markets the entertainers that receive the highest pay for their services are providing the best quality service to that market.  If you’ve thought to hire a magician, chances are you value a special experience for your guests. When planning your event, you will have to ask yourself what’s most important to you: price or quality.

In general the hierarchy of performances by expense from least to greatest will be: kids birthday parties, strolling/walk around magic (receptions), parlor shows (10-50 guests), stage and corporate work (tradeshows, speaking).

Also keep in mind that you’re not just paying for the magician’s time and tricks the day of the event.  I often tell my clients that the performance is free, what you are paying for is my travel and preparation.  I’ll let you in on a secret: a polished magic routine takes hundreds of hours behind the scenes of work and rehearsal before it even sees the light of day.  Why do you think the top magicians make it look so effortless? To a professional performer, that time and energy is worth something.

Examples of off-stage duties besides practice time:  Payroll, Bookkeeping, Accounting, Sales, Marketing, Promotion, Ad Design, Web Design, Web maintenance, Social Media Campaigns, Prospecting, Transportation, Continued Education, Technical Equipment, Client meetings, Show Prep.

All of these factors will contribute to the performance fee.  If you think you’ve found the right magician, but you think the fee is a little steep, consider the above factors before attempting to negotiate.  

Communication:

At least half of a professional magician’s job is communication; public speaking, interpersonal skills, phone calls, and emails. Communication is also a two-way-street in any relationship.  You as the client share the responsibility to communicate: your needs for the event, and to respond to phone calls and emails.

Make sure you’ve communicated your needs in a timely manner.  For example, try to book at least a month before the event, and let the performer know of any changes well in advance (venue, head count etc.).  The magician should check in with you a week prior to the event,  and they should check in with you after the event (for feedback etc.).

Aside from picking the correct, quality entertainment for your event, communication will ensure its success.

Contract and Deposit:

Every performance should have a contract.  This is to protect both the client and entertainer.  The magician should send you a contract well in advance (a month or more out).  The contract should include: the date of the event, the event location, what specific services will be provided,  the cost of those services, when and how the fee is to be paid, deposit details, and any additional stipulations.

Every performance should have a deposit.  This investment helps to ensure both that the magician didn’t reserve the date in vain, and that the magician will show up on the date and time of your big event.  The deposit is typically half of the total performance fee and is paid when the contract is returned. The remainder of the fee is typically paid on the day of the event.

Should I Re-book the Magician or Recommend this Magician to Others?

A top quality professional magician should be a highlight of your event.  They should be included in the comments you get from guests about the event’s success.  Were your guests smiling, laughing, applauding? Did your guests come up to you and say something like, “Where did you find the magician?!”  If so, you can be confident you made the right choice and should consider this magician for referrals or re-bookings.

If the magician didn’t show up on time, didn’t communicate,  didn’t perform as advertised, and didn’t contribute to your event’s success then it could either have to do with communication or the quality of performer.  Some performers (myself included) provide a money back guarantee in their contracts. These performers tend to be more confident in their ability to deliver exactly what is needed.  

That’s It!

Hopefully I’ve provided some insight on how to go about finding and hiring the right magician for your special event.  Ultimately, the magician and event planner should want the same thing: an amazing, seamless, and memorable experience for the guests.

If you need help or additional information, feel free to email me at: Brandon@LawrenceMagic.com.

  Brandon Lawrence is a professional magician based out of Portland, Oregon. He specializes in close-up and parlor magic for corporate audiences.

Brandon Lawrence is a professional magician based out of Portland, Oregon. He specializes in close-up and parlor magic for corporate audiences.