Magicians - How much do you charge?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by StevenLevitt, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. Deechristopher,
    I don't know if I agree with you. Well, not you specifically, but this way of doing business. I know that is how a lot of full time, professional magicians do it.
    So this is not meant to be an attack on you, but on that method of doing business.
    Perhaps it's my ignorance about this area.
    What I would wonder is this: how much would it vary if you are giving the same show (same set of effects- say a stage show) to a wedding for 100 people, or giving the same show to a corporate venue with 300 people? Same show. Same amount of work. Same presentations (lets say minor variation). Etc. Would there be a bigger charge for the bigger venue with more people?

    I can understand a different charge if the effects needed to be different to accommodate a larger crowd> for example a private party with 12 people versus a gig with 50 people and a gig with 100 people. The cost is going to vary, because the work is different. But what about WHO hires you? Does that affect it for you? I know many magicians who would do the same show for two different clients and charge different prices, because they know the corporate can pay more for instance. But is that fair or moral? (like I said I don't have any clue how you conduct business personally, but I know magicians who work with this same model).
    Perhaps that is not what you meant, but for me it is just as much work to do a show for 40 people as it is for 60. And it would be the same show the client would get for 200 people versus 2000. So how could I justify charging more based on the number of people? Perhaps there is logic there that I'm missing.

  2. I charge $5 million for my stage show.

    I haven't booked it yet, but when I do... I'm retiring.

    In the mean time I'm just gonna keep practicing that stage act (Stratospheres, Zombie, Run Rabbit Run, etc) and sending out promo packets.

    It's all about having a solid business plan.
  3. I mainly do night clubs. I go on my own time, and I'll make anywhere from $200-$700. I'm there for about 3-4 hours. I only charge for private events. If its walk around or table hopping, I don't charge. I make way more off tips. If you really only work off tips and the people know that, they wil tip very nicely. I'll get $20 per person quite often. I prefer to make tips only. This way I know if they really liked my perfromance.
  4. J, I understand where you're coming from completely, but it is very, very different working for a crowd of 50 people than it is a crowd of 1000 - I use 2 different shows for bigger and smaller crowds like that personally as some stuff just won't come across to a crowd that big that I do in my parlour show.

    If I was using the exact same show however, or if it was based on just a walkabout performance, I'd still probably work it that way.

    It's not that I consider corporate events worth charging more for, if I could, I'd charge a grand for smaller do's too, but people that have £2000 to throw a party and have £1000 to pay the venue and £500 for catering aren't going to pay £1000 for entertainment as they simply don't have the money to. It's more the other way round than you described if you get me :p

    There's much more to it than that though, I've got one or two clients who book me over and over and over. I give them good rates for their loyalty and have built up a relationship with them after working with them so much.

    If you wanted to have a set price list for the different services you can provide, that's cool, but I'd prefer to be a little flexible and be accessible to people without huge budgets.

    I'm not at the stage that I can charge £5k every show I do, so I'm happy to get the most out of the client I can so that I'm able to pay the bills and not go to jail for not paying council tax! (that happens over here!:p)

    Like I said before, I'm no authority on how to charge, there's no right or wrong as long as you're getting the work. It's all down to preference and the different skillsets each performer has.

  5. Ah, thanks for putting some perspective on that. I don't have experience with huge audiences (my biggest is coming up next month), so I don't know how effects play differently for massively large audiences. I suppose time will tell!


  6. Quoted for truth.

    -Nuff said.
  7. Haha, Glad to see we're on the same page Steve!

  8. I charge them a hug. :eek:
  9. I shall have to read all of this later - Just posting in here to remind myself!
  10. Sorry I can;t contribute to this discussion, however I have to say, as a magician who is just starting to get into the working industry, I find this information very useful.
  11. I notice a few things I want to bring to attention, as it may not be the right "venue" but there is an educational opportunity for

    I notice many people who rang in on fee charge $75 to $150. I also noticed a few mentioned a price list. These things send trigger signals for issues. I have a few long winded stories, but they will change your thinking, I hope.

    First - when I was in school, I paid my way with JUST close up, however, I would get calls for kid shows. I didn't do them, but felt I was losing money, so I made a deal with two local guys to promote them and take a percentage (booking fee) as their (sorta) agent. They were happy with the deal. Anyhow, one guy felt his show was worth $150.00, as he didn't want people to say "no", he had been doing kid shows for 10 years. The other guy did children shows on the side, and had a decent show, but he charged $300. Seeing both their shows, I felt they were pretty equal in ability, so when people called for kid shows I would say, "Sure, I have two different magicians that both provide a quality show" - then I would tell them their prices for a hour. 90% of the time - people would take the more expensive one...and I realized, your fee represents value. We can both get a pair of basketball shoes - one at Wal-mart for 30 bucks...or a pair of Jordan's for $300 - anyhow, some people DO like to have a more expensive product. If you can charge that much - it is because you are worth that long as people feel, after the show, they got their moneys worth.

    Second, work smarter not harder - a children's magician, I can't remember his name right now, shared a story about charging $50.00 a show and he booked up every Fri/Sat/Sun - making $75.00 (back then, this was good money). He wanted to make more, but wasn't sure how. His 12 year old son said, "Dad, charge $75 - if 2/3 book you, you make the same and have a day off...if they all book you, you doubled your profit". Smart kid. The guy did, and often he would book all three, but even when he didn't..he still made $25 more, for one day LESS of work.

    Sometimes, you have to learn to say "No thanks" - just because someone wants to book you, doesn't mean you have to take the show. I am BLOWN away with how little people charge, as this says to me a few things - ONE - You don't feel your show has value - TWO - You are limiting your growth - THREE - You don't care because you don't do magic professionally, but essentially you are undercutting people that are. Here are the issues explained.

    ONE - Bill Malone gets (rumoured) 50 000 a show - Micheal Weber makes a killing on consulting fees...and you charge 100 dollars or so a hour of magic? Nice. I have turned down shows for anything less than a certain dollar value...think of it this way. It is like dating EVERY girl/guy that asks you out...regardless of who they were - you would date some real losers if you did that. However, if you have standards, you can hold out for a good person - think of this...but when accepting business.

    TWO - If you are charging $150.00...this means to make a living, just a little above what Welfare pays - you would have to do 140 - 150 shows....or about 3 private parties a week slow periods. So, to make JUST above 20 000, you would have to perform EVERY Fri/Sat/Sun...and you could live like you are on welfare. Nice...and we wonder why so many working pro's are STARVING!

    THREE - so you do it on the side - you feel it is okay to charge a little, and bring in a little extra...BZZZ, wrong. Here is why. Imagine that "on the side" someone undercharged for a lowers the value of the product. Essentially, this is BOOTLEGGING - it undercuts a working pro - but FAR MORE importantly, it devalues YOUR product. Like the story above, you make it look like you aren't worth that much. Live performances are expensive - even a local band will run you 300-500, and they are less memorable than magic. I have a friend that is a police officer, and magician - he once charged a similar price to all, as he was making good money as a cop. However, I reminded him that he was an award winning magician, and that his talent had a value - he would get better venues, and more clients if he charged a price that represented his work. He did - and I was right. Not to mention, now he makes more money, that he spends on magic...lucky bugger.

    Anyhow - pricing issues are hard - but this is the BUSINESS side of show business, and it is obvious their is a lack of guidance.

    I think (as guys like Dee said) your price needs to reflect your audience, I would NEVER list a I would have lost out on making thousands on one show...but by listing that price...woudl have missed out on small house parties, that still paid well, but couldn't afford a few grand for a hour of magic. You also have to ask yourself, what am I worth...and what prevents me from charging more? What makes me uncomfortable about asking for more? These are real questions that will help you grow your magic business. If you aren't comfortable charging more...why? This answer will maybe open your eyes to the fact you aren't ready to be a working magician...or you are, but your price is low.

    There is a lot to swallow here...I hope some of it helps. Cheers.
  12. I found everything on these 4 pages to be great advice, thanks for the tips everyone!
    Now here's my question: I'm 14 and was recently asked to perform at a 4 year old's birthday party in August. Hopefully they'll actually end up calling me to book me, but I'm not sure yet. If they do end up calling me, how much should I charge if I'm going to be walking around towards little groups of 4 year olds to show them some things, maybe even go towards the cluster of adults here and there and show them some card tricks?
  13. But Morgician,
    If you charge one client a price for a show and another client a higher price because they have a bigger budget (perhaps a corporate show or something), for the exact same show - yes you might be able to 'not miss out on making more money' - but how do you sleep at night?

    My show can accommodate 10-80 people, with only sleight variances in effects and performance of those effects. It doesn't take more work for me to swap some of the close up stuff in or out for more effects that play bigger. Why would I charge more? Because I can? Because they have a bigger budget?
    That's like a plumber driving up to my driveway and seeing I have a nicer house and charging more more for close to the same job. I'd be ticked.
    Obviously if the shows differ signifcantly, and one is more work, then you can justify that, and I can also see the hesitancy to had out a price list. Other than that it seems like robbery and taking advantage of fat pocketbooks.


  14. How does he sleep at night? Probably very comfortably in knowing that he can pay his bills and also have extra dough left over for whatever else he wants.

    well that's the thing to think about. If somebody has the money to spend, they WILL spend it. I think this is I would call his Hamburger to Steak theory.

    Plus like he mentioned you have to make enough to stay well above the poverty line. Plus having a set price pretty much locks you in and might not allow for expansion or for those higher end clients to hire you.
  15. I didn't say he charged too much, the comment was about charging two different clients different amounts for the same show based on how much you can suck out of them (Morgician, I don't know if you do that, but that is what questions me). Is your show worth $2000 or $700? If you decide your show is worth $1000, then how could you justify charging $3000 just because the client can pay? Do you get the idea?

    Perhaps some famous magicians can charge tens of thousands, however, I have yet to see a non-famous "professional" magician with a show that would justify that.

    You're worth a lot. Pay your bills and feed you children. But don't be a crook.
  16. #36 Morgan B, Apr 17, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2009

    That is entertainment bro - do you think that a band...or a comedian gets paid the same for every show they do? Do you think Jerry Seinfield gets paid the same doing a night club, as he would for doing Carnagie Hall?

    You can tell the comments are made by those that haven't made a living doing card magic - how can I sleep? Hmm, I find it much easier to sleep knowing my RENT is paid AND I HAVE A PLACE TO SLEEP! Sorry, caps were stuck on, haha.

    Look at it the other way - flip the script - why am I "taking advantage of fat pockets" when it could be seen as - giving the poor man a break! I always ask for the same fee, but when people choke on it - I work my way down.

    It is easier to negotiate down, than add value to your show to UP your price. I know what my show is worth, but I also know what my client can pay - those don't always align.

    I don't see it as being a crook - perhaps you didn't read my story above about the two magicians - and one getting more business, for the same show, even though he was priced higher for no reason?!

    Look - JT - we do card tricks - let me start that sentence over - JT - have you ever collected anything? Comics, baseball cards, Jerry's Nuggets - those things have an attached value. People pay various prices for all kinds of things that have percieved value...I see sports stuff that is priced at WAY over the actual value - then in another store...maybe less - HELL, even groceries have different prices at different stores - so, why can't I attached a value to my show that changes on boundaries.

    Are you honestly telling me that you would charge Coca-Cola the same fee you would charge your 60 year old neighbour on a fixed income to do magic at her family reunion. If you want to make a living - SCREW being fair - know your clients budget and and charge what you are worth when you can...negotiate when you have to...or do you want to screw over the old lady...or lose the show because you believe you need to charge everyone the same to be fair?

    If this is really how you feel - you will NEVER survive being a working pro - keep magic as your side job, and get a real job. I refuse to screw myself over by low balling myself...I refuse to turn down a show where I could make a few hundred for a hour, because the old lady can't affod a grand!

    I will say this though - the true test of my work has been a few things - repeat business...and charging more on the second and third show - supply and demand! You may have not seen many magicians "worth" a high fee...but then again, neither have most audiences that see magicians in general.

    The fact I get my asking fee, is a sign that I am asking the right price. I once heard a business line that really helped...if people say "yes" too fast - your price is too low. Anyhow - I don't want to get into it - but I don't appreciate you questioning my value, talent or my ethics in business...especiallyi from a kid that hasn't done what I have in magic or business.

    May the path you choose be lit up by the bridges you burn behind you.
  17. The only problem is what tricks your gonna do. Thats the age my mother does for a living. the stuff here won't really work. I did that group foe a few years and will never do it again. What are you planning on doing?
  18. Isn't there some old story about a guy who told Coca-Cola or some other high end client that he charged like 150k and they decided NOT to go with him because they thought that was too low. (Usually the name of the company and the price tend to change each time a person tells the story.)

    But it does make sense to charge each individual client a different price. All you really gotta do is ask questions about the venue or event and etc. Once you know what your getting into, then you can charge at the price you think is reasonable.

    I used to think that having a set price was pretty much the standard, but after awhile it did start to make sense to think about charging everybody a different price. And yeah, I myself would rather get the high end guys then somebody small party for a small fee.
  19. #39 Sir FansAlot, Apr 18, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2009
    This is the funniest thing I've seen in a very long time.

    Let me do this.

    Why is it funny, how is it funny, is it really funny? NO, it is mean. How? It is mean. Did you're feelings get hurt? YES.

    You hurt my feelings!

    I will definitely cry about it. You guys are a bunch of punks.

    Metaphorically of course :)
  20. #40 Chrisfecto, Apr 18, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2009
    I definitely started a thread on this not even that long ago that had ended up generating alot of great information... I haven't read all of this but theres definitely information in there...

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