“How much do you charge for a show?”
That’s a question that I get about every third phone call from a new, potential client. To some people, that seems like a fair question. However, to others and especially to me, that’s about as broad of a question as walking into a dealership and asking, “How much do you charge for a car?” There are a wide variety of factors that come into play and if satisfaction is your ultimate goal, it’s in your best interest to know what these factors are.
Types of Shows
The first thing you want to look at is the type of show you’re going to be having. Obviously, a corporate show is not going to be the same price as a children’s birthday party. One of those may cost thousands and the other may be just a few hundred. You also have to think of customization. Shows that are customized to deliver your company’s message are going to be more expensive. Sometimes, for children’s parties, magicians will offer giveaways or gift bags to the kids, or they’ll have a special gift for the birthday child. This is usually an optional add on, very similar to how magicians can help with giveaways for trade shows or large corporate events, to make more of an impact. Find out what the various options are for the type of show you are trying to book.
Factors of Price
Like any business, magicians will offer better rates, based on numerous scenarios. For me, one of the biggest factors is when the event is going to be. Certain dates and times are much more in demand. October through December is my busiest time of year, while weekends are my busiest time of the week and evenings are my busiest time of day. A company Christmas party on a Saturday night in December is going to be way more in demand than a Monday morning in July. If you’re going to have a company Christmas party, if you can possibly have it on a week day and better yet, if you can have it during the day, that will definitely work in your favor for getting a lower price. Another factor is location. Local events will obviously cost less than ones that require travel and potentially a hotel room. One other potential factor is length of performance. This one is definitely a ‘per magician’ factor. Most of the time, there won’t be a price difference for different length performances of the same type. For example, a 30 minute close-up show and a one hour close-up show will typically have the same price. I also find that the top professionals don’t typically charge an hourly rate.
Who Are You Getting?
Some people think that the term “professional” simply refers to someone who makes money at what they’re doing. To me, that’s only one part of it. The other part is going to be how the person conducts themselves, not just at your event, but also during the booking process and the rest of the time leading up to the event. Do they stay in contact with you? Do they give you suggestions on how to setup the venue? You, personally, need to feel that your job has been made so much easier by hiring them. So how can you know who the professionals are? You can ask for references or, a much easier way, type their name and the word “magician” on Google and that may bring up websites where that particular magician has been reviewed by a customer. I call these “reviews they have no control over.” Think about it: a magician is probably not going allow anything less than a raving review on his or her website. So you’re more than likely going to have to step outside their website to find the consensus of past clients. It may result in a little more work, but it’s better than being disappointed.
So How Much Does a Magician Cost?
All of these prices are going to vary based on where the performer is located and also, I’m not factoring in traveling costs because those can vary even more than the performances. I’m simply giving you over 15 years experience of speaking with professionals, learning what the local rates are in various parts of the country.
For a children’s party, you should expect to pay anywhere from $250-$450, depending on what the magician provides. Private parties for adults will typically have a range of $400-$600. Small, company parties of less than 100 people can also be in this range, but with a much larger group that might involve a stage, sound system and possibly lighting, you should expect to pay $700-$1000+. For close-up and strolling magic, as I said earlier, the top professionals usually don’t have an hourly rate. If you’re not having them perform a show, they typically charge a flat fee and book for the night. The ones that I’ve seen book hourly range from $100 all the way up to thousands and the interesting part is, there doesn’t seem to be any consistency with quality in relation to price. So, I recommend looking for a highly rated magician that books a flat fee.
Keep in mind that what you’re seeing here is what I consider middle of the road to higher end for local magicians. You can definitely find a performer that has a lower fee than what I’ve shown you. However, if they have a much lower fee, there’s usually a reason for that and it’s not one you want to discover after you’ve hired them. Remember to look at reviews online, to find out if they typically have satisfied clients. In the same way, if you find someone that’s significantly higher in price and their reviews are great, there’s a reason for that too, and it usually means that, given their experience and knowledge about different types of shows, venues, and audiences, they are top notch in every category. From what I’ve learned, if people want quality and budget is not a factor, they’ll pay top dollar just to put their mind at ease.
My bottom line of this blog is, stay away from the bottom line. Don’t book someone who is significantly lower than their competition, unless they can really back it up. If your budget is not going accommodate a professional, it is far better not to book an amateur or a hobbyist. There is nothing worse than having a tight budget and spending it all on a performer that’s going to be a disappointment.