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

Ming Da’s Magic MAY-hem America ‘Tour’ !

And here it is, the long awaited news!

Firstly, i would like to say that I am not like a famous magician who can “tour” per say, so i am thankful for all the producers of these shows for having me on their shows! Will be performing 8 shows in Chicago, New York, New Mexico, Vegas, California , and LA! Exciting!

Here is the promo poster for the ‘tour’:

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I am extremely excited to share my magic and performance with the American public and also look forward to meeting many magicians and masters that i have only heard of but never met!

Here some links to the different shows and venues:

The Magic Chicago Show– 3rd May
New York Monday Night Magic– 8th May
Max’s Magic Theatre-10th May
Vegas Wonderground– 18th May
California Magic Dinner Theatre– 19th, 20th May
Bay Area Dinner Show– 22nd May
Magic Monday LA– 29th May

If you happen to be around any of the places, please do buy a ticket for the show! And drop me an email to let me know you will be there :)

Magically yours,
Ming Da

Why do people hate magic?

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Imagine this scenario:

‘Hi! I am the magician hired for the event, would you like to see some magic?’

‘a….no thank you, we don’t like magic’

Ouch.

Let me tell you that this is not a made up situation but a very real scenario that many magicians have met with. As a professional magician, i am very aware that magicians are viewed as geeky and nerdy to some people.Everyone has different perceptions of magic. Some people only think of a magician at a kid’s party when you mention a magician, which is far from the truth. Try this out, ask a friend to describe a magician. Often they will describe someone dressed in a top hat, rabbits and doves, or even better- someone in a bright clown-liked costume. And it doesn’t help that there are magicians that still follow and dress this way. I do not want to point out anyone in my local market in particular or say that it is wrong, but personally, it is not the image i want me or my magic to project. I perform for corporate events, weddings and private parties and i definitely do not look like what you would imagine a magician would look like above. And yet when i perform, i still have people saying to me ‘I hate magic’

But here’s the thing:

I DON’T BLAME THEM WHEN PEOPLE SAY ” I HATE MAGIC”

You see the reason that people say they hate magic is the same reason magic is portrayed in a bad light in the media (Watch the Amazing Burt Wonderstone movie, its hilarious). That reason is us magicians. Don’t get me wrong. There are many magicians who are really good, many that i count as friends. However, there are also many who are still stuck in the old fashion times.

You will be able to spot these performers easily. They are the ones with a magic wand or top hat or bunny on their business card. They are the ones that have little social skills and don’t really speak well and within seconds of performing immediately act like they are better than you. The problem is magic is one of the industries whereby you can get some magic props, within a month print some business cards calling yourself a professional magician. Confession time:been there, done that. Now, this may be the way some of us start out. But a professional magician should definitely grow out of this as he matures in his entertainment career. Having said that, there are many magicians that have been around for years an should have quit years ago.

Whatever people have seen or experienced in person is what they attach to it. Unfortunately, this means that if that experience is bad…most likely it will be what they associate with magic.

Once that idea is cemented, nothing can change their mindset except having a different experience.

Now, this means that i have the chance to make the person fall in love with magic again. To change their perceptions, all i have to do is to perform for them once. After that, not only will they be able to appreciate the magic but most importantly they see my skills in interacting with people, engaging the crowd’s attention, and create a genuine connection between us while having fun and being amazed at the same time.

So what do I do as a magician to change perceptions?

ASK – Every client has a preconceived notion of my product or service. I must discover what shaped that experience and created that perception. If the client trusts me, they will tell me why that previously negative experience has impacted them to believe what they do now.

ACKNOWLEDGE – People don’t like to have their opinions challenged or ignored. I need to acknowledge their past experience and understand why they have the perception they do. If possible,i will ask deeper questions so that i can get a more complete understanding of their perceptions.

ASSIST – Help them see the future. A show reel is helpful in doing this. I will try to ask them to describe the ideal scenario that they wish when engaging my services because they cannot see what i do. Other than watching a show reel, it is important that they see a new picture and get a new understanding of what’s possible. I will assist them in imagining things the way they have never imagined them before.

This in its essence is a sales-process. By doing these with patience, providing helpful information along the way, i hope that the client will make the leap of faith for my services and be able to change the perception they have for magic.

As a professional entertainer, my goal when i perform is to make sure they are left with a good impression of both me and magic in a whole. As a full-time business owner, I take pride in communicating to my clients exactly what they should expect and change any negative perceptions they might have about magic.

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If you think magic is terrible there is a very good chance you might be wrong and i would like to help you change that perception. And if you are booking a magician for your event make sure you book a magician that is going create a memorable experience for your guests for the right reasons. Drop me a mail or give me a call here and i will be glad to assist you.

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Magically yours,
Ming Da

How a magician can help you have a unforgettable Business conference or Dinner and Dance

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Magic creates Awe and Wonder.

Whether you are looking for a funny show for a lighthearted business lunch or mysterious mind boggling demonstrations for a suspense-filled gala dinner, teaming up with a magician (or illusionist) for your company occasion will be one of the most unique acts in your celebration. Magicians are able to cater to big groups as well as small teams and not only attract but retain their attention. What you need to know is which kind of magic that satisfies your event style.

Should i hire a magician?

Many people have the cliche and stereotypical image of a magician in a top hat and funny costume (This will be another blog topic :) ), but please do not think so. In fact, a good and modern magician will be well dressed for the occasion and present magic that is both current and relevant to the modern audience. Some questions to ask before hiring a magician are:

Is the magic show unique?

Business conference and DnDs tend to look more or less the same and sometimes repetitive. While the same type of entertainment like dances and singers/bands may be able to produce a positive environment, it will certainly not be the core of an awesome conference. Magic appeals to people of all age groups and you will hear the gasps of astonishment and laughter of joy throughout the whole show. Although i can’t vouch for every magician, this combination of wonder and delight is found in my stage show for conferences and Dinner and Dances. And what if you already had a magic show last year? No two magic shows are the same, each magician has a unique way of performing and presenting the magic even if some of the illusions may be similar. Even for my repeat customers, i am always aware of audiences who may have seen me perform previously and to add new elements in the show. When choosing a magician, look at the show-reel and the manner the magician presents himself/herself on stage, and past experiences and decide which is the best fit for you.

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Is the magician’s show interactive?

It is difficult to find another form of entertainment that will involve real communication and interaction between the entertainer as well as guests. Magic involves the magician and audience to build a rapport and for both to participate in it. Magic relays on bouncing off the energy of the audience to create a higher level of energy in the room especially after a long day of conferences and keynote speakers. In my show, there are pieces by which i play a game with the audience while i am on stage and everyone can participate along, this helps to bring up the energy of the room and build a rapport with the audience. There are other pieces that involve asking audience helpers up on stage to help me out and these are usually the highlights of the show. And it is because of this element of audience participation that every show is different.

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Magic is perfect for employees and CEOs

Sometimes, the CEO of the company like to be introduced in a special and flamboyant way. A magician is able to customize an illusion and make the CEO appear on stage and WOW his employees. It is a proud moment for anyone i have to say :) From my experience, employees enjoy watching their colleagues on stage interacting with the magician and helping out on stage, cheering them on while they are on stage. Of course extra care has to be taken by the magician not to embarrass or offend the colleague or audience in any way. I am happy to say that my magic shows are clean, filled with comedy, interaction and wonder and no one has been offended or embarrassed. Also, no one is forced to participating in the show.

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HOW TO HIRE A MAGICIAN?

With so much said… How do i know which magician to hire?

Do ample research. Look at the profile of the magician and past experiences to ensure they are experienced in performing. Look at his show-reels and the manner he presents himself, and decide which is the best fit for you.

Of course, if price and budget is a big issue for you, you can always go to one of those directory websites where they have magicians ranging in prices from $100 to higher ones. But do remember when it comes to high-quality entertainment – you get what you pay for.

Of course at this time, i will have to shamelessly yet confidently recommend myself for your event because… it’s the right choice 😉

Magically yours,
Ming Da