I promise, I will answer this question. But first, there are a few things that must be taken into consideration.
Asking “What can I expect to pay for a magician?” is a lot like walking into a car showroom, and asking “How much is it for a car?” You see, much like booking a magician, it depends on your requirements, not the price tag on the windscreen.
So, right from the start, let me tell you what you might expect to pay for a magician. You can get a wonder worker who will perform in your front room for your private party, or at your wedding, for £50. Yes, you really can hire a magician for that; maybe even less! Of course, whether he’s going to be any good – or any better than the flat-tyre old banger that’s rusted away in the back area of the car showroom for two years, and only costs you £200 – is something to think about.
I recently saw a question posted on an Internet forum, asking; “How much should I expect to pay for a magician”. Somebody responded that they had recently booked a magician who was the son of a friend of their next-door neighbour, and it was only going to cost them £50. They genuinely thought they sealed the bargain of the year… Who, knows? Perhaps they had. But I very much doubt it.
And I doubt it, because the first thing to take into consideration is the professionalism and experience of the performer.
If you want a performer who has a full time job, but practices card tricks in his bedroom, and would jump at the chance to make a few bob from a one-off performance, then you’re going to get that at a great price. If you’re having music at your event, you could apply the same thinking and hire a band with a singer who’s tone-deaf and a guitarist who only knows three chords; and hasn’t quite conquered the third one.
You’ll save a bundle. (They won’t have overheads like Public Liability insurance or membership of Equity). But, of course, the event may not turn out to be quite the roaring success you envisaged.
And a search on the internet isn’t going to help either. It’s amazing how many seriously awful magicians I’ve seen that have incredibly flashy websites. And don’t be suckered in by celebrity endorsements. I recently discovered a magician who was caught out using Photoshopped pictures of himself with a number of TV and movie stars… Several from the famous London Waxworks!
Every second magician has the words “award winning”, on their website. But in many cases it means they were handed a certificate at their local magic club. I know of one “magician” who has that on their website; there were only two entrants in the competition.
So, how do you make sure you are paying a fair and reasonable fee for the quality and experience of the magician you hire?
Well, there is a great place where you can almost guarantee unearthing a magician who perfectly meets your needs, and that’s at The Magic Circle. It’s a society for magicians, but in order to gain membership, each applicant has to go through a 3-stage process. They are required to submit an application, attend an interview, and then perform an audition.
You can even search The Magic Circle website by location and the type of event you are hosting.
Another way of selecting a magician that will have all the relevant documentation and ensure your event is a success is through an agent. Additionally, you have somebody to contact if something goes horribly wrong. I have had dealings with people like Douglas Gillespie at The Entertainers Agency (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Kenny Donaldson at Speakout (email@example.com). Both are members of the The Agents Association (GB), take their jobs seriously, and will only recommend acts that they know will deliver the goods. They have magicians on their books who I know, from personal experience, are professional performers who deliver the goods each and every time – and have done so for a number of years.
Cost will also depend on another few factors:
(1) The type of event. Is it a children’s show? Or is it a full after dinner event?
(2) What style of magic do you require?
(3) What is the location? Is the magician local, or is he travelling from the other end of the country?
Just to give you an idea, I have performed in theatres, live TV, massive halls, people’s front rooms, and at weddings. Each will have its own price.
The type of “magic” I perform is mind magic – or psychological illusion. There are no cards, ropes or fluffy bunnies. Instead, it involves reading minds, fast memory work, influencing the choices of the audience and so on. Yes, it’s more expensive than a run-of-the-mill magician.
In terms of location, I have performed all over the UK, in Russia, The Netherlands, Sicily, Marbella, and dozens of other far-flung locations. I have also performed at a hotel, just six miles from my home. Obviously, that has a huge impact on my fee, too.
But I promised to answer the question “How much does a magician cost” – and taking everything into account – here is a very rough guide. (Given that, you may pay more. But if you’re paying less you are probably getting something that’s going to leave you and your guests seriously disappointed.)
For a children’s party, a professional with all the correct documentation will charge around £250 – £400.
* Hiring a magician for a private party – a bit of walkaround / table hopping plus a floor show should cost somewhere in the region of £400 to £700.
* A cabaret style performance for 100+ people or so will probably fall into the bracket of £700 – £1200. Of course, at this point you would also be considering a low stage (riser) and PA equipment (possibly lighting, too.)
* A big-prop illusionist show; well, it’s just going to be silly money.
* Walkabout (strolling table hopping). Magicians tend not to charge by the hour, or to bring travelling costs into the equation – unless it’s a fair distance, in which case accommodation must be factored in, too. But it’s actually a pretty good indication of cost, if you consider (minimum of two hours) £150 – 200 per hour flat fee.
While all this offers a fair indication of a standard magician’s price list, it is worth bearing in mind that a more specialised form of “magic” such as mind reading / psychological illusion which I perform, may cost a bit more. That said; I, like many others of my ilk, are very keen to fit in with the client’s budget.
But one thing is for certain; if you are on a tight budget, you do not want to blow it on a performer who will at best disappoint, and at worst, prove to be an embarrassment.
WHO IS DREW McADAM
Drew McAdam is an entertainer based in Central Scotland. He has performed his distinctive form of pure mind magic across the UK and from the United States to Russia. From Europe to Africa – and most places in-between. Though mainly performing in the corporate market, he often performs in theatre and on TV – and had his own series with BBC. While specialising in corporate after dinner astonishment and cabaret performances, he loves nothing more than taking his spellbinding demonstrations to private functions, parties and weddings.
If your requirement is for entertainment that is uniquely practical and practically unique… Get in touch. Tel: 07711590618