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

End of the trip… start of a new journey

So i am sitting here at my desk in my hotel, and tomorrow i have an early long flight to catch back home to Singapore. Have some time to do some reflections before getting down to packing up.

How can i describe this trip? Magical. Unbelievable.

I still can remember having this plan in my mind last year:

    I want to perform in America.

That was it. I am not the best, i am not famous, i don’t have the most original creations, or the best new moves. But i knew there was only one me, and i believed that was enough.

I didn’t tell many people, especially local magicians, because i was afraid to be judged. I was scared to be said to be “thinking too highly of himself” But i took the leap of faith. I listened to the small still voice in my heart.I researched, looked for places that i wanted to perform and emailed the places. Some were open, some were not. Of course i do not blame them. “Who’s this guy? A guy nobody knows, wanting to performing in the great America, how can we trust that hes good enough?” They didn’t say that of course, but i knew that was what they were thinking.

But some were open, some gave me their faith, and i think i did not disappoint them. Looking back at the trip and places i have performed…how unreal is this! I have met people i have only heard of, seen on magic tapes, seen their name only in a magic book…Legends from a far away land. And fast forward to now, i have met some, talked to some, sat on the same table to session, and even performed with some! And many who i can really now say are my friends. How crazy is this.

Here are some photos from Vegas where i performed at The Wonderground Cabaret:

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California Magic Dinner Show, where the show was sold out!

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The Bay Area Dinner Show:
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And finally Magic Monday LA:

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It has been an incredible journey, nothing short of amazing. I am leaving this place with ideas to work on, acts to practise and showcase one day, new goals to be achieved in the future, new business ideas to start when i am back home and most importantly memories that will last me a lifetime, friendship in magic that makes this craft and passion and hopefully art that i pursue so much worth it.

This is the end of the trip, but a start of a even greater journey i’m going to take. America, i will be back, wait for me.

Magically yours,
Ming Da

Updates from America!

Greetings from America!

Decided to post some updates as i am at the halfway point of my “tour”, turns out this is going to be a long post :)

America has been awesome so far, I have completed shows in Chicago, New York and New Mexico and currently in Las Vegas awaiting my next performance.

First show always takes some nerves and i felt a bit of that on my first at the Magic Chicago Show, but all was good and it was an honour performing alongside Bill Cook and George A. Bradley.Managed to watch a great show “Cerebral Sorcery” by Francis Menotti and David london which set me off thinking of many ideas as well.

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The highlight in Chicago was being able to perform at the Chicago Magic Lounge, which was originally not part of the plan! I was just there to check out the place. And WOW,the exquisite, magical venue just breathes magic. If there is a place that is competing with magic castle to be the mecca of magic, this is it. I was asked to do a short bar set on the Thursday that i was visiting and the response was so well that the owner asked me back on Saturday to work the tables! There was so much magic history in Chicago that i learnt about in those few days, i wish i had more time! Going from a visitor to performing at the bar and doing the tables today, and hanging out with the guys at the backroom for an old style Chicago magic session, Chicago was a great experience.

Here are some photos from the lounge:

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Part of my bar set:

New York was interesting, the city of business and happenings. I performed on the Monday Night Magic Show as a special guest alongside an extraordinary cast including Peter Samuelson, Alex Boyce and Todd Robbins who was the host for the night. Performing in theatres has taught me a lot in terms of staging and technicalities of theatre , as we do not have many theatres back home that we can easily have regular magic shows, as of course watching the other magicians take the stage with their acts. I only had a couple of days in New York, so i mainly visited Times Square and The Statue of Liberty, and Tannen’s magic shop! Tannen’s is one of the best magic shops around, i managed to catch up with Magick Baley and hang around the shop to soak in the New York Magic Scene. I also managed to watch one of the deepest and most mind-blowing magic show i have seen. “In and of Itself” by Derek Delgaudio. In fact, it is so much more than a magic show. All i can is, if you get a chance to be in a city where the show is on, do not hesitate, GO FOR IT.

Here are some photos from New York:

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I only had 4 days in New York and flew down to New Mexico, Albuquerque.

My host at Albuquerque was Max Krause, he is a creator in magic and i managed to see many of his creations in action. Max owns a magic shop and theatre of his own and i performed 2 close up shows and 2 stage shows over my weekend there. Albuquerque is a small city but a beautiful one. The shows we had were intimate and a really fun crowd.

Some photos of the shop:

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And many thanks to Max for the hospitality!

And right now, i am looking forward to the rest of the trip and adventure!

Till next time, magically yours,
Ming Da

Updates!

Hi there all you lovely people!

Time flies and almost a quarter of the year is going to be over. It has been a busy few months since the start of the year and i had not have the time to sit down to write. So, here is a quick update of what i have been up to.

So what have i been busy with? Firstly, it will be shows. Have been really busy and will be so up till the end of next week. One of the fun shows was performing for a wedding in Krabi, Thailand! Look at photo of the beautiful scenery below (Just one of the many!):

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Other than bring busy with shows, i have been busy with a few projects as well, here it goes! I am really excited for a few things that will be unfolding in the next few months:

1) I will be performing weekly regular magic at 3 more new restaurant venues! Will be bringing a magical experience to these new venues :)

2) MAY-hem America Performance tour! I will be performing in various cities in America in the month of May, more details coming soon!

3) A brand new formal close up show, this will be a public ticketed event! Currently in the process of finding a venue and finalising the show.

Thats all for now, will be posting more updates on each of the 3 points above as the time draws nearer. Meanwhile, here is a short magic trick for you:

Magically yours,
Ming Da

Good bye 2016, Towards 2017!

And…. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Firstly, i really wanted to post something before 2016 ended but i was too busy with 3 shows on the last day. 2016 has been great and my busiest year so far. I can only imagine it getting better and will be working hard towards achieving new goals and milestones.

A big thank you to every direct client, repeat clients and event companies and partners for your support in 2016, more to come in 2017~
Thank you to every feature i got on both online and printed media: Vulcan Post, The New paper, BBC Radio, LOVE 97.2 , JTV

And lastly a special shout out to my regular gigs: Beer Market (Past) , 555 Villa Thai, and The Royal Albatross!

Some things to look forward to in 2017 include putting out a new show (maybe 2!), a possible new online series on another platform, and more international performances. Have received a couple of possible opportunities to go overseas, but nothing cast in stone yet, so we’ll see how it goes!

Here are some photos from my last days of 2016:

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Happy New Year! Stay Magical!

Magically yours,
Ming Da

New Episode of Black Magic on JTV!

Hi everybody,

The brand new episode of Black magic is out on JTV! This time i spent some time performing some street magic in Bristol as well as the StoneHenge, which is BEAUTIFUL!

Do watch and remember to like and share! :)

Currently working on some new ideas and ventures, so stay tuned! And come down to The Beer MArket on Wednesday to enjoy some close up magic! :)

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:
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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 :)

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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!

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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

Europe performances and updates

Hi all!

A quick update for the months ahead :)

I will be leaving for Europe from 17th June to 20th July for some performances and a short ‘magic trip’. I will be performing at the Casablanca Variété in Amsterdam in June and performing at the Illusions Magic Bar for 3 nights in July!

Casablanca Variété is the only circus cafe in Europe, where all European circus people meet. It has a small theater where i will be performing my cabaret one-man show in june. This will be my first performance stop in Europe! Check out the poster below:

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You can visit their website here (In Dutch): Casablanca Variété

I will also be performing at The famous Illusions Magic Bar in Bristol, UK, in july! I have heard of The illusions magic bar for a long time and it is an honor to be able to perform 3 nights at the bar,

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Check out their website here: Illusions Magic Bar
To promote my show in Bristol, i will also be appearing on air on BBC Radio Bristol to do an interview and performance segment. I am honored and excited for these opportunities and for being the first Singaporean to perform at these places, and hope to do Singapore proud!

During this period of time, i will not be contactable through my phone, but i will still be able to access to my email, so feel free to email me for any inquiries. For any shows and bookings during the period of time that i am away, i will still have colleagues that will be able to take them up, so feel free to contact us through email.

While i am overseas, i will be planning and awaiting news for a big upcoming project as well. This will be very exciting, so stay tuned! 😉

Meanwhile please watch and share the 2nd ep of Black MAgic on JTV here:

Thank you!

Magically yours,
Ming Da

Why Should You Have a Close Up Magician at Your Wedding?

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So you are getting married and you want your wedding to be amazing. You want to look back on your wedding day and remember that it was one of the best days of your life. There are many important things to plan from choosing the perfect dress to the perfect venue. These alone takes a lot of time. However many brides and grooms forget about about a very important thing and leave it to the last minute- ENTERTAINMENT!

When asked after the wedding day, 72% of brides said they felt they should have spent more time choosing the entertainment. The majority felt that they had not prioritised the entertainment enough, coupled with the fact that nearly 100% said they did not budget enough for wedding entertainment.So how did the guests feel? 81% of guests said the most memorable experience was the entertainment. So even though the Brides had not spent as much time or money on this area the guests still saw it as the most memorable part of their wedding experience. (Quote Source)

There are lots of different options for entertainment – everything from a DJ through to photo booth. But i think that booking a close up magician for your wedding may be your best decision made. YES i am bias, but let me tell you some reasons why i think hiring a close up magician is the best thing you can do for your guests.

1) Get the guests to mingle around, avoid awkward silence.

At a wedding you have a lot of people who don’t know each other coming together for the first time. A lot of people in this situation can be very shy and once the obvious questions are asked they run out of things to say.Having a close up magician can solve this problem almost immediately. A good magician can go around the crowd performing a for different groups of people and bring different pockets of people together. It raises the whole atmosphere in the room. Watching a magician performing at a nearby group builds anticipation and gets everyone talking about what they are about to see. Magic also acts as a conversation starter or ice breaker. Once the magician leaves the the group everyone instantly has something they can talk about, even if it is trying to work out how it was done!

2) Awesome photos for a lifetime

If you are getting married you want to have the best photos ever. That is after all why you have spent a small fortune on a professional wedding photographer. A lot of couples ask the wedding photographer to walk around during the wedding breakfast and take pictures of guests having fun and smiling. It’s a great idea, the only problem is when you point a camera at most people they freeze or do some sort of weird forced smile. Magic is one of the best way to get pictures of people who are smiling, obviously happy and enjoying themselves. You will literally have hundreds of pictures to choose from of your guests reacting in a variety of different ways.

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3) Make your Wedding Stand out and be memorable

Weddings have become quite predictable. Most weddings are the same, in fact during the popular months if you have been invited to three or four weddings it’s hard to remember one from the other. A wedding should be memorable, it should be remembered by all the the guests for all the right reasons. Having a close up magician at your wedding is makes your wedding stand out and it will give your guests the WOW factor from the second they walk through the door. The nature of close up magic is interactive and miracles happen in front of the guests eyes which will leave them talking about it for a long time. Imagine the look on your guests’ faces when a card appears in a lemon, $2 changes to $50 and amazing card tricks happen in their hands.. All this is possible and more! It basically means that your wedding will be remembered for a long time to come – for all the right reasons.

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4) Customised magic for the newly wed, Surprise them!

Planning a surprise item for the newly wed? Magic is perfect to illustrate a lovely moment between the couple or create a special moment. I have been invited by friends of couples to surprise the couple with a lovely act for both of them and the couple are always grateful after the wedding for adding a little magic to their big day.

Some tricks that i do specially for weddings:
– Linking hearts- Like the classic chinese linking rings magic but done with metal hearts where the hearts seemingly link and unlink with each other magically

– 2 cards are caused to linked together permanently and can be given out as a souvenir.

– 2 cards are each signed by the bride and groom and caused to fused together and become a single card back to back, making an unforgettable memento.

Of course, with any of these points you need to ensure that you hire the right close up magician. Unfortunately, like in any industry, there are magicians that are very good and magicians that are very bad. Do your research, check what awards they have won, what experience they have, where they have performed. Watch showreels and live performance videos, check reviews, monitor them on social media and if possible watch them perform live. And yes, get me, i’m the right one for you, trust me 😉

Magically yours,
Ming Da