We asked a range of magicians on Facebook: 'How much would you charge for 2 hours of close-up magic?'
You can see the results just there on the left. Quite varied responses and a range of prices.
What does this tell us?
There are magicians for everyone's budget. Just as there are singers that work for £50 and a free meal, and singers that charge thousands per show. There can often be a range of prices because there is always a range of clients with different needs and budgets.
The important question is: Where YOU want to sit on this scale!
Looking deeper at the results.
Several of the cheapest and also the most expensive 'votes' came from people who don't actually perform. These may be only aspirations, but can still be useful data about the perceived value of a close-up magician.
What Agencies report.
We asked some of the most popular entertainment agencies what average fees they were charging to supply close up magicians.
Generally agencies will determine the clients budget and then seek out a magician from their trusted database of performers that are willing to work within the clients budget.
The most common prices for a close-up magician performing 2 hours at a private party or wedding in the South of England were £350-£500 with the magician receiving around £250-£400 from the agent.
Many agencies also have a list of 'up and coming' or part-time magicians that are prepared to take work at around £200. These tend to be used as part of overall entertainment packages or for events with limited budgets.
These fees excluded restaurant residency fees, which came in at £80-£150 per evening.
'Higher end' close up magicians ranged around £600-£800 per 2 hour booking.
Finally, TV celebrity magicians were much higher than this, leading into 'celebrity appearance' fees dependent on their current popularity.
Fee's outside of the South of England tended to be slightly cheaper.
What we learn from this:
Like any type of product, there are as many different prices as there are types of customers and events. We can look at it a bit like Apple iOS Vs Android in the smart phone market. The android platform aims to reach as many people as possible across the whole spectrum of product prices. Because of this, it is on many more devices and has the largest market share. IOS is much more expensive and has a lower market share but has the largest share of the markets profits. A magician can be very busy, but their income relates to the fee level they charge and the market they target, more than the amount of gigs they need to maintain their required income.
Setting a low price will mean you are within the price range of most gigs agents are seeking. However, It will put you in a crowded market with a lot of competition from part-time magicians happy to work for low fees.
You may get plenty of work from this approach. However, you may become stuck in a low fee cycle:
The low fee cycle.
When a magician starts out, he or she can often pitch their fee lower than it should be. Chances are they are part-time, and income from gigs is just fun money for them. If they are good, they build up a reputation and get regular work from agents. They meet other magicians from time to time, who are also working for a similar low fee. It's rare they work with magicians charging more as they tend only to work with other magicians doing corporate parties arranged by the same agent as a package. They may also do restaurant gigs, at a much lower fee.
When private bookings come in, they quote at the fee level they normally get from agents as that's what they feel the standard fee level should be.
As a result of this, they stay in a low fee cycle. Charging the same fees year after year, and receiving lots of regular work.
Outside the low fee cycle.
Other magicians start the same way. If they are good, they get busy. Once they find their work diary filling consistently, they start to increase their fees.
Increasing their fees can mean that they stop getting work from some agents. That's quite scary, and there's a temptation at that point, to return to the low fee cycle.
Pushing past this and moving away from 'whole of market' agents, can lift them to a more selective client base. This does result in fewer bookings, but a larger income over the course of the year.
Sitting on the fence.
Many magicians attempt to work within both markets. The magicians have a main persona and brand, which is pitched to premium clients, but they will also work for 'whole of market' agents, under a different name. A second brand can permit a magician to fill his or her diary gaps with lower paid work. This can work very well, providing that care is taken to keep the brands distinct and that preference are given to the premium brand on key working dates.
How long have you been quoting the same fee to agents and clients? Have you been increasing your fee every year by at least 3%-5% to cover inflation? If you haven't, you are taking a pay cut every year as the value of your income naturally decreases. Do you find that fear of no longer being competitive and losing work is stopping you maintaining your income level?
Consider increasing the fee you charge by £50 from today. If a client wants you, £50 probably isn't enough to break a deal, but over a year the increase is considerable to your bottom line. If a £50 increase threatens the deal, the client is probably only shopping on price rather than quality, and someone else will almost always be cheaper. Do you really want to be, simply the 'cheapest option'?
As your diary fills to an acceptable level, increase the fee you quote in small jumps. Continue to increase your fee until your new inquiries begin to level off. Adjust your fee to just below that level until you find your work level starts increasing again, then repeat the process. Remember, as you increase your fee, it's OK to take a few less bookings for a larger fee. You will still maintain the same monthly income. As you do this, notice how your client base starts to change, and as a result, the referral bookings that come in will reflect a new market.
Photo Courtesy of Pds319