Common Mistakes People make when hiring a magician

Hi all,
Its the time of the year. Your end of year event/Dnd/party/celebration is here. You have looked at what entertainment options you have and finally have decided to hire a magician. Great! But wait…what now? How do you know which magician to choose?

Here are some common mistakes that people make when hiring a magician:

1) Leaving entertainment budget to the last

Price is a factor when hiring a performer, otherwise you will hire David Copperfield or Criss Angel to come and perform for your event. However, many event planners place too much emphasis on price and not enough emphasis on the overall impact the entertainer will have on their event.

Is the highest priced performer always the best? No. On the other hand, hiring the cheapest entertainer may not be the best way to go either. Magicians, comedians and other performers are often perceived as “all the same”. So, the event planner tries to find the lowest priced performer.
The fact is, that each performer is unique! Like in any other professions, there are entertainers who are great, some who are good, some okay, and some who should never be allowed on stage! Fees for entertainers are usually based on reputation, popularity, scale of presentation and over all talent and skill. But overall, it is important to note, as with anything in life, “You often, get what
you pay for!” You need to base your decision on the performer who will best fulfil your needs and help you to achieve your desired outcomes.

Decide what your budget range is early, do not leave it to the last thing remaining on your budget.Then go on and check out a couple of performers in that budget range. Choose several that catch your eye or seem to fit your event the best. And finally, choose the best person regardless of price. If your budget is so small that you cannot find an excellent performer, DO NOT HIRE ANYONE. It is far better to have no entertainer than it is to hire someone who is not going to give a good performance. Save your money and wait until you can afford someone who is outstanding and going to make your event outstanding.

When it comes to me, i always hold fast to this principle:
Always over-deliver, exceed expectations, go the extra mile; so that my bookers will feel that they get more than whatever value they are paying for.

Performing at The Chicago Magic Lounge

Performing at The Chicago Magic Lounge

2) Assuming That Going Through An Entertainment Agency
Will Guarantee Good Entertainment

Many event planners feel that they are better off hiring performers from an agency instead of hiring performers on their own. Firstly, let me say that there are many good and reputable agencies that I work with on a regular basis. In fact, if you want to hire entertainers through an agency, i can recommend you some. The following information is intended to help you avoid disreputable agencies. While it is true that calling an agency and letting them do the work is a lot easier than doing it yourself, there is no assurance that you are going to get the performer or entertainer that is perfect for your event. Agencies have a list of entertainers in different price ranges. Their first concern is to book the highest priced performer so they’ll get a bigger commission. It’s for this reason that they always ask you what your budget is. If you tell them that you have a $5,000 budget they will look to book an entertainer in that price range. This may not be the best person for your event, but because they can earn the most out of it, the agency books them.

3)Booking solely on testimonials

Testimonials are an important factor and tool when hiring any entertainer. However, it is not necessarily the volume of the reviews, as much as the content of the reviews and whether the reviews are genuine. The truth is that many entertainers make up their own testimonials and totally lie about their
credentials. Finding out the truth is very easy. Ask the performer to give you copies of some of the actual testimonial letters they received and not just the quotes from these letters. (I have for mine, in case you are wondering) If the entertainer/performer can’t produce at least some of the actual letters, you have your answer. Another ploy that entertainers pull on unsuspecting event planners is to claim that they have performed for people and at places they never really have. If a performer claims to have performed on a well-known television program, simply ask to see a video clip or picture.

If they don’t have it… well, you know.

Photo from the Singapore American Embassy 4th of July Independence Day Gala Event

Photo from the Singapore American Embassy 4th of July Independence Day Gala Event

4)Booking solely on demo video

A demo video is another helpful tool when choosing an entertainer, but it is not the most important thing. What a demo video is good for is getting a sense of the entertainer’s style and personality. And, whether the entertainer will be a good fit for your event or audience. The problem with basing your decision solely on someone’s demo video is the fact that anyone can make themselves look good on video through editing and retake after retake. The ideal situation will be to set up a meeting and to meet the performer in person, and perhaps get a sense of how he/she is like in person and how he carries himself.

5) Booking too long a duration OR the one with the most props

This, once again is a common pitfall. Especially in Singapore. People tend to have this idea that “If i am paying ‘X’ amount, i want to get the longest time out of it or a “tricks per minute” kind of mentality. This is not the best because magicians are NOT ATM machines, where you put in a certain amount and expect ‘X’ number of tricks. In fact, a great magician should be able to work a crowd with a standard set of tricks that plays to different crowds. An amateur on the other hand, tends to switch around material, jumping from one new trick to another. A true professional commands a room not JUST by his tricks, but by his presence. When i am doing roving magic for events, i prepare more tricks in advance but most of the times i tend to perform the same set for different groups and occasionally specials for VIPs. But the whole room can hear the laughter and reactions from different groups as i go from one end to another.

The same thing goes for stage magic. Scheduling too long of a show is a mistake many event planners make. It’s important to remember that it is not like people are going to the movies and want to see a two-hour show. In many cases, attendees will have been in meetings all day and will be tired. Even if your event is “dinner only”, your guests will have been sitting for at least 45 minutes before the show starts. If you add a cocktail hour, an awards presentation, and/or a speech from the company CEO, the length of the event increases dramatically. Some performers bring a whole lot of props for shows (with the exception of illusionists as that is required of them), chances are they are hiding behind their props.

Know what you want as a event planner. Do you want just a silent act? Where the magic is purely visual without talking. Or do you want an interactive stand up act, where the magic has audience participation. Usually, a mixture of both would be ideal, but then again, every event has its requirement.

There you have it! 5 common mistakes people make when hiring a magician for their event. Of course, there are other factors that you might want to consider as well depending on your event. But at least you have a guideline to start with now :)

Magically yours,
Ming Da

Reflections on Europe

Hi everybody!

Alas, the time for me to return home is near.

The Amsterdam Magic Show was a huge success with the tickets selling out before the day and standing tickets were even sold. I was honored to be on the line-up with fellow dutch and international magicians: Aljaž Šon, Arthur Gerards, Quintus De Paarse Goochelaar, Alex Blackwood, Timon Krause, Fritz Alkemade, Ryan Millar. We had such a fun international crowd (Saudia Arabia, Norway) and because we streamed the show live, people from South Africa and Czech Republic could see the show as well! My part of the show went very well and i had people coming up to me to shake my hand and tell me they enjoyed mine the most. Happy and humbled at the same time, very thankful for this opportunity.

Here are some photos from the show:
amsterdammagicshow3

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The last of my performances happened at the Illusions Magic Bar in Bristol and what an experience it was. Illusions is like a cross between a club and bar. It has a corner for bands and a DJ where music is blasted out for the guests to listen and a mini dance-floor in front of it.

At another corner is the elevated platform stage for the the close up magic show. It is custom-made from an actual poker table and it is a beauty!

Illusions Bar Table: Every close up magician’s dream table
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Illusions Bar House Rules:

Performing at Illusions has been a big learning experience for me as a performer. Over the 3 days, i had to impress skeptics, deal with drunk and rowdy people, and learn how to work to get tips. One of the experiences was quite funny: I remember a guy who brought his wife up to watch my show and the wife was obviously not interested and did not bother to keep it in as well. Throughout the first 2 tricks that i did, she refused to be cooperative and was complaining to her husband that he dragged her up for the show. I knew i had to do something and i said: ‘ Look, the rest of the people here are here to enjoy the show, if you do not want to watch, no one is forcing you and you can leave anytime.’ She was stunned for a moment and kept quiet. It was then that i did my favorite trick with a lime and she was amazed and smiled and clapped. I have to say: That was a satisfying experience :)

illusions bar2

illusionsbar1

As Singapore does not have a tipping culture, it was also my first time doing banter and trying to get tips. And i absolutely love it. I shall not say how much i got for tips but let’s just say that i could eat comfortably for the 3 days just from the tips that i earned on the table, excluding my fee. Many people came to me after my sets and told me they really enjoyed and were impressed by my show. There were also regulars at the bar that told me they have been there before and my show was the best they have seen there. All these coming from the English public means a lot to me. I remember one group that was screaming to the bar manager: ‘ What is Ming doing here at Illusions?! HE should be at f—ing Las Vegas!’

There were also people who asked about my performance fee for overseas shows and were interested in booking me…so if things go on well: I will be back sooner than i thought! :) Thanks to Mark Bennett, owner and creator of Illusions Magic Bar for arranging everything!

illusionsbar3
Being the first Singaporean magician to perform at Illusions, i have my own picture frame that will be up on the bar wall too!

Testimonial from Mark Bennett, owner and creator of Illusions Magic Bar:

“Hi Ming, Just wanted to say thanks and what a privilege to have you tread our boards at Illusions Magic Bar, many famous magicians have worked here from Paul Daniels to Paul Zenon and John Archer and I can say for someone who has never experienced a bar like this you took to it like a duck to water. especially the TIPS!!! I’m glad you enjoyed your experience with us and we hope to see you again soon.”

During my time in the UK and Europe, i also had the privilege to work with and watch many other magicians and make some friends. i have seen so many different kinds of magic: wonderful storytelling magic, silent acts on stage, stand up magic, great visual creations just for eye candy, bar magic done right. I have also learnt a lot from the magicians that i have talked to and spent time with. And all these add to my overall experience as a performer and gives me a broader perspective. Many thanks to everybody that i met and made me feel welcome and given me opportunities over here!

And big thanks to Brendan Rodrigues, The Magician of the year 2016 at The British Magic Circle, for sending me this:

I will be back 😉

Magically yours,
Ming Da