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How To Find Great Local Magicians for Kids Birthday Parties, Corporate Events, or Special Events
How to find a great local magician for your party or event:
If you are planning a birthday, a company picnic, a wedding, or really any kind of local event or party for adults or children, here are some tips from an expert (that’s me!) on how to find the right magician. This article also applies to finding any kind of local entertainers such as clowns, bands, jugglers, face painters – you name it.
Obviously, first you have to find some magicians in your area to choose from. You could get a recommendation from a friend, and that can be a good start. Keep in mind that almost every magician out there (even the lousy boring undependable ones) have some people that will recommend them. Why would they suggest someone bad? Well, it may be because they don’t know any better – they may not have seen a good local magician to compare with. Also, just because someone is good doesn’t mean they are the right magician for your party. In any case, don’t stop with just a recommendation, check the guy out carefully and make sure he specializes in the type of magic that is right for your event (more on that later).
OK, then after recommendations, you have 2 options. You can find and hire a magician directly, or you can go through some type of entertainment agency. There are usually local agencies in your area (unless you are in a small town) that book magicians as well as a big variety of entertainers for any occasion (I used to own a business like that back in Ohio). There are also national online agencies that have thousands of entertainers available for parties anywhere in the country, even for children’s birthday parties.
If you find a good local agency, they tend to be very familiar with most of the local entertainers and can give you more personalized help and suggestions than you could get from a national online agency. Not all local agents are good, though. Some are just out to make a quick buck and are not very picky about who they send out. Sometimes local agents book great people, but sometimes they have a hard time finding good people who are available when they need them. Sometimes the better local entertainers don’t want to work for agents because the agents may not be able to pay them enough and still make a decent commission. Sometimes the local people get plenty of work on their own so why bother with an agent. Therefore, agents can work out well, but check out the agency carefully.
Now, for online agencies: some are just a listing service and don’t get involved in the booking process at all. All of them let you sort out entertainers by city so you can find someone close. They may simply provide some names and contact info, but some show pictures, demo videos, links to the performer website, and have room for several paragraphs of info provided by the entertainer. Some even show ratings and comments from clients who got the entertainer through their service. With most of these national sites, the performers are not screened for quality – anyone can be listed. A few do screen for quality magicians as best they can considering they have not seen most of the performers in person. Generally there is no personalized help from the agency; they serve more like an online phone book. You will find these agencies without effort – just search for magicians on a search engine – these agency listings will be mixed in with your local results. A few examples are Gigmasters, Gigsalad and Partypop.
Online phone books (yp.com, Dexknows.com. etc) can be a good way to find entertainers directly as well as find local entertainment booking agencies. There should be at least 2 or 3 good online “phone books” that have somewhat complete local listings. Dexknows and Yellowbook are a few examples, but the selection of online directories varies based on your location. Again, some of these are much better and more complete with local listings. Often the one that is considered the “official” one for the main phone company is the best – but not always. Just do a Google search for online phone books. Categories to look under include Magicians, Entertainers-family and business, Party Planners, Entertainment agencies, etc. Google itself does something like an online phone book, and you will often see those results when you do a local search for a business.
And of course the sources that a ton of people go to first are Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. To use these and find the biggest selection of local magicians, do several searches, each search with a different set of words or phrases. Be very specific with some of the search phrases for better results. For example, don’t just type in magicians, try “birthday magicians West Chester PA” or “close-up magicians for corporate events Chester County PA” etc. You’ll get different results based on how you search. You’ll find individual sites for magicians as well as some of those online and local agencies I talked about. Not all good magicians have websites, hard to believe I know. And some websites don’t show up unless you dig through several pages of search results. There are also those paid ads put up by the magicians – they have ads for very good people sometimes (on Google they appear on the right side and sometimes the top).
Anyway, once you find some people, then you can first narrow it down based on their specialty. For example, some magicians (such as myself) specialize in local children’s parties and events, so make sure you read their websites carefully so you don’t waste your time contacting magicians that are not right for your event. Some specialize in expensive illusion shows for big events, some only do close-up walk-around style magic, some don’t do kids birthdays. Some do a mix of everything, but may not admit that they are not good at everything (though some are good at everything). Some are expensive and worth it, some are expensive and not worth it. Some will charge a very reasonable rate and give you a better show than you expected. Most importantly, get the magician that seems to specialize in what you want if possible. Some magicians, such as myself, also do balloon twisting, face painting, game leading, juggling, etc. Multi-talented people can be a great choice because they can keep the party going by doing multiple things (if you want).
Make sure you know exactly what they will do for you, make them be specific so you can make the right decision. Also, if you pay $125 for a birthday show, don’t expect some big elaborate show – there is a difference, they are not all the same and you tend to get what you pay for. Know what to expect and be realistic. See their demo videos if they have them. See reviews and comments on online phone books, etc. Get a contract if possible, with details of the show listed on it. Make sure the entertainer knows the details of your party, make sure they have good lighting, enough space, shaded area, a contact number for the day of the event, etc. Oh, and book as far in advance as possible – let me say this again – book as far in advance as possible (several months or even a year in advance if you can). Don’t procrastinate or your favorite person is likely not going to be available.
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