The most important thing is to make sure you book a professional. An amateur or part-time magician maybe able to perform amazing magic but there is a lot more to it than that. Will they turn up on time? Will they be smartly presented? Will they work hard to make sure they see every guest? Will they have the experience to cope with any last minute changes?
Remember that if you are hosting or organising an event, the magician you choose will reflect on you. In the same way, a professional magician who’s livelihood depends on performing regularly will look after all the small details because it reflects on them and their prospects of getting more work.
How do you know someone is a professional? After all, anyone can say they are but what can you do to check that it’s true?
How to Spot a Professional Magician
Check that the magician has a good website and/ or printed promotional materials. These days, magicians often rely on a website to provide information to prospective clients because it is so easy to keep a website up to date. Many also have videos or DVDs and printed materials including photographs. Of course, this doesn’t make them a great magician but it does indicate their professionalism. It can also give you an idea of what a performer is like if you haven’t met them.
Check that the magician is a member of magic societies such as the Magic Circle and the International Brotherhood of Magicians. These societies require magicians to be serious and accomplished performers before they are allowed membership. Another good sign is if they are a member of an organisation like Equity, the UK performers union or similar professional body.
Check the magician’s list of clients and engagements, and testimonial/ recommendation letters. A professional magician should be able to provide details of past clients and engagements – if they can’t something is wrong. The types of events they have been involved with will indicate if they are the right magician for your event. The letters and quotes can be helpful, although it is unlikely that any bad quotes will find their way into someone’s promotional materials! However, the number and quality of the quotes should give you an idea of how well received a performer is. Don’t be afraid to ask for copies of the original letters or emails.
Check that the magician has public liability insurance. This is very important! The magician may be closely interacting with your guests, perhaps borrowing objects from them and a professional will be covered for any accidents that may happen.
Is a Particular Professional Magician Right for You?
So, you’ve found a professional magician. How do you know they are right for you and your event? Obviously, seeing them perform is the best way. Often a magician will work regularly at a restaurant or club, or even have a regular stage show and this is a great opportunity to see them in action. However, some magicians only perform at corporate and private functions and you may not be able to see them in public.
Promotional materials and information about past clients and engagement should give you a pretty good idea what they are like, but a quick phone call is the best way. Have a chat with them, ask them what their performance style is like and what types of magical effects they perform. If you like what you hear and can get on with them over the phone, it’s a good sign.
Price and Negotiating a Fee
Often the main factor when deciding which magician to choose is price. Fees for professional magicians vary a lot because they depend on many factors such as the date and time of the event, how well known the magician is, what type of magic you want them to perform, how long you want them for, etc. But, as with most other services and products, you get what you pay for. Good magical entertainment is not something that you can get cheaply. If you are shopping around and enquiring with many magicians, going with the cheapest may not be the best option!
When negotiating the fee it can be a good idea to be up front and state what the available budget is. This could save both you and the magician a lot of time. If one magician is too expensive or is not available, they may be able to suggest another magician or entertainer for your event. Their opinion is worthwhile, since they should be well aware how good other magicians are and suggesting someone unprofessional would reflect badly on them.
Finally, remember to check whether the fee you negotiate is fully inclusive and that there are no hidden extras such as VAT or travelling expenses.
Note: This article is written from a UK perspective, but many of these tips will be relevant in other countries.