A common question asked is “How much does it cost to hire a magician?”
There are always going to be magicians who are very cheap, possibly because they are just starting out and those who charge a fortune. Based on a straw poll with other magicians in the area the average price for 2 hours of close up magic performed in the north-east is between £200-500.
Of course there will always be some budding close up magicians who are prepared to perform for much less and others who charge a fortune, especially if they have any kind of celebrity profile in the media.
So one thing to decide is do you want a celebrity magician who some of your guests (probably not all) will know of and pay, possibly thousands or do you want someone who is probably equally as competent, has plenty of experience and only charges you a few hundred.
Another factor is agents. Are you booking via an agent who will without doubt be adding on a percentage for themselves, for no added benefit to you. Its always best to go direct to your magician.
A third factor is distance that they will have to cover to get to your party, event or wedding reception. If they have to pay travel expenses and overnight accommodation then that is obviously going to radically increase the price they will quote you. Booking locally will always be the cheapest option.
So go direct (not through an agent), find some local magicians, local to your area and find out their level of experience. Take some time to read independent reviews either on Google, Facebook or on their own website (providing the reviews are guaranteed to be independent of course). Here are some reviews of mine. You can see that I have been performing since 2004 and hopefully the reviews I have received speak for themselves.
People sometimes ask me if I can quote for just an hour, or just for two hours and I know some magicians will work on an hourly basis. Bear in mind that although the hourly rate may seem high compared with some jobs, there is travel time to factor in and in my case I always practise and prepare for a gig beforehand for at least 2 to 3 hours. Some tricks stay embedded in the brain come what may for ever, others sadly don't. So I always find it essential to rehearse and to prepare meticulously before every event.
At an event, I find that two hours is not nearly enough, unless it is a very small gathering. A typical wedding has over 100 people spread over multiple tables. I never perform whilst people have food in their mouths - it just doesn't work. So I'm trying to get round every table, in between the courses and trying to get to the most important people in the room at a good time for them to appreciate what I do.
I also feel that if you've booked me for the event then I should stay for the duration and try and get to everybody that wants to see some magic. Each table that I go to is like a mini show. I might be doing several different effects at each table and I don't want to rush off, because I've only got two hours and I've still got 6 tables to do.
Thats why I say, book me for the event, not by the hour. That way I hopefully disappoint anyone who is waiting for some magical fun.
I've done some birthday parties recently where there are only a few tables with about 40-50 guests in total. These are really great bookings for me because I can take my time and I can often bring out a third category of effects that I call my 'after dinner' set. These tricks require more table space to spread cards out. I may even be able to do some cabaret style effects in this environment. There's not really much danger of me running out of tricks to do.