Would you like to make a living out of performing your magic? If you are going to do that.. You need to decide how much to charge for a magic show.
Most people that learn magic tricks, do so for the fun of it. It’s a wonderful, rewarding hobby. You may, however, be planning to earn a small income as a magician or even turning your obsession into a career and become a professional magician. If you do decide to start performing magic for money, there is some important information you should think about first:
Will you be Professional or Semi Professional?
The vast majority of working magicians earn an income from magic on a part-time basis. They have a current employer and supplement their wages by doing magic in the evenings and weekends. As the weekends tend to be the most popular time for social events that require a magician, semi professional magicians can fill their diary quite nicely through the year, and still maintain a full time job. The aim is often to build their reputation over time before being able to move into doing magic full-time. There are several advantages to starting off semi-pro:
- There is little financial risk.
- You can maintain your current lifestyle.
- Income from magic doesn’t have to be used for living expenses.
- Time can be taken to build and develop your act and reputation above the average magician.
- You can perform when you want to, not because you have to.
What type of magic act will you perform?
This isn’t about the types of magic tricks you perform or your performing persona. You need to look at your act as a product. What type of product will it be?
- Will you directly market your services yourself, or focus on working with an agent?
- Where will you market yourself, only local, or are you happy to travel?
- Will you work alone, or will you be using an assistant?
- Do you intend to have a secondary income doing film or TV work (Perhaps as a consultant)?
Who will your customers be?
Understanding your customers is essential for determining both the product you will offer and the fee you can charge.
- Will you be aiming at companies and venues, of focusing mainly on private individuals with wedding and party events?
- What level of affluence does your target/local area have?
- What is the persona of your average client? Professional/family/retired etc.
What is the competition doing?
It’s important to understand what level of fee’s your competition has achieved in your local area. Getting some quotes from other magicians will help, but take the advice of fellow magicians with a pinch of salt, as they tend to exaggerate. Getting quotes from local entertainment agencies tends to be more reliable. Bare in mind, that in any area there will be magicians charging at the top of their ‘payment ceiling’ and others who are underselling themselves. Never try to be the cheapest, it tends to work against you over the long term. The aim is to be in the middle or towards the top of the fee structure in your area as quickly as possible.
When can you work?
If you are performing semi-professionally, and holding down a day job, you may have to limit your gigs to the weekend, or only take bookings that start later in the evening. Even then, if you have a family, it’s essential to spare time for them too. If you intend to make your full time living from magic, you will need to be able to commit to working evenings and weekends. It’s great having your days free, but your friends and family may not think the same. It’s very important to discuss the implications of being a magician with your family, and to have their support.
How much money would you like and how much do you need?
The first step in setting a professional fee, is to determine how much money you NEED. This is quite different from how much money you WANT.
Make a list of all your outgoings. Get your last 12 months bank statements and note down the total that went out of the account each month. It’s important to use a year worth of bank statements as some expenses are annual. Group the debts into categories so you see exactly how much you spend on the following on average each month:
- Rent or mortgage
- Utilities and services
- Average monthly spend on food
- Loan or card repayments
- Club memberships
- Pension and monthly savings
- Car payments such as tax and insurance
Now use the statements to calculate how much money you spend on entertainment and small impulse purchases.
You should now have two figures. The first is for your essential fixed expenses. This much money HAS to be earned each month just to live at your current comfort level. The second figure is your leisure or fun money. This second figure is not as fixed as the first and can fluctuate over time. Think of it as your ‘buffer zone’.
Once you have these figures, if you add them together, it will give you the total amount of money you need to earn each month to continue your current lifestyle. This figure is very important for the next step.
How much you NEED to charge.
Nobody is the same. We all have different commitments, responsibilities and interests. A young single person can have much more disposable income whilst earning far less than a person who has a mortgage and needs to support a large family. The old saying ‘It’s not how much you earn that’s important, it’s how much you spend’ is very true. That makes it hard to give any examples of income, as we are all different. In this discussion, I assume the average monthly income in the UK, so simply correct these figures to fit your own income needs and commitments that you calculated by looking at your bank statements over the last 12 months. The average household income in the UK is currently £2000 per month, so I will use that figure as a baseline.
The most important question of all.
How many gigs will I need to do each week and how much do I need to charge for each gig, to bring in an income equal or greater amount than my expenditure?
Let me introduce you to a great website that is free to use: Your Rate
Your Rate is a website that asks just three questions:
- How much money you need to earn every month
- How many hours you can work each week
- How many weeks of holiday you intend to take.
Fill those in and get an hourly rate to charge. Your Rate calculates this for you, and builds in how much you should include for savings and how much is needed to pay your tax on the earnings you make. Because tax rates vary by country, and it is allowing for savings, it multiplies the actual rate needed by 2 to give the final total.
As a magician you are going to use it in a slightly different way. In your mind, change ‘How many hours do you want to work per week?’ to ‘how many gigs do you want to do each week’.
Let’s say the average close-up magician does 3 gigs every week and has 2 weeks holiday. What fee would he need to charge each gig to earn him an income of £2000 per month with taxes and savings covered.
To earn £2000 per month the magician should charge £347 per gig, doing 3 gigs per week and having a 2 week holiday each year. This included taxes and savings built in.
Let’s say the magician averages 2 gigs per week. What fee would he need to charge per gig to make the UK average income of £2000 per month after tax and savings.
To earn £2000 after tax and savings, a magician should charge around £500 per booking and do 2 shows per week.
Let’s look at a different type of magician. Children’s shows start from around £100-£200 per show.
If a children’s magician charges £150 per show and does 7 shows every week (with a 2 week holiday), it will bring in an income of £2000 per month after taxes and savings.
You can use the Your Rate website to enter your own figures and play with the results.
DO THIS: Use Your Rate to see how many gigs you would need to do, with your area average fee per gig to earn the income you made over the last 12 months. See if the fee you would need to charge is viable for your reputation, the number of gigs you think you can average over a year and the fee’s your competition are charging.