HomeArticlesUnderstanding The Real Cost Of Live Entertainment

SkillYou have just called an entertainer to inquire about having him/her appear at your upcoming party, and when you got to the part about price, you nearly dropped the phone. You said, “How much?”

Live entertainment does not come cheaply. But then again, it is far more reasonable than you might expect. There are many factors that affect the price you need to pay to bring an entertainer into your home (or office).

Here are just a few:

  • The city or community you live in determines the overall market. Performers in New York generally charge more than performers in Cleveland or Denver. Performers in Toronto generally charge more than performers in Ottawa or Regina.
  • Each type of act or entertainment has a different range of pricing. Pricing for a clown is different than a face-painter and that is different than a magician.
  • How many performers are in the act that you are booking? Generally, a larger act will charge more than a one-person act.
  • Are you booking a name artist? David Copperfield charges a lot more than, say, Jeff MacBride. Both David and Jeff a name entertainers, even if you don’t know who Jeff is. And Jeff charges a lot more than I do!
  • What type of event are you having? Rates for an in-home child’s birthday party are different those for a wedding at a banquet hall or a major corporate event.


Other factors include:

  • How much equipment is required to stage the performance?
  • How far does the entertainer have to travel to get to the venue?
  • What is the date of the event? For example, rates for New Year’s Eve are significantly higher than most other days. Why? Because entertainers are in great demand and it’s simple economics: supply and demand.


Regardless of the type of act or service that you are booking, you will find that there are usually three different price ranges in play in your area.

  • There is the median or generally accepted range that most decent and reputable performers will fall into.


Then there are the two outliers.

  • The budget or low cost supplier – These are, for the most part, not as good or experienced. Sometimes, these are performers that are just starting out. Sometimes, they are simply not that good, and can only get work by under-cutting the market. It’s buyer beware. And understand this, you usually get what you pay for.
  • The top-tier acts – These performers are the A-list performers in your area. They get to charge the top dollar because they are generally the best in their field in your area.


Here are some things that you need to keep in mind as the buyer or booker:

  • You cannot shop strictly on price. The product you are buying is not the same, even though it may appear to be. Yes, a magic show is a magic show. But, my magic shows are not the same as the shows offered by other performers. You must compare them in detail.
  • You cannot make your buying decision simply on what you see on a performer’s website. Look into such details as:
    • The relevance of the show to your event requirements.
    • The age-appropriateness of the show to your guest demographics (this applies only to children’s events, of course)
    • Does the performer have the experience to deal with any unique needs of your guests or event objectives?
    • What range of testimonials does the performer offer?
    • You cannot make your decision without actually speaking to the performer. If you cannot connect with the performer, how well will the performer connect with your guests? This works in reverse, too!


Are you working through an agent and agency? Here are some additional factors to consider.

The price you pay goes to the agent who may be taking as much as a 60% commission. Yes, you read that right. Several agents in the Toronto area charge about $250 for a 1-hour birthday party package. Out of this, the entertainer gets $100-$110.

You are not getting a $250 act. You are getting a $100 act. And you have no idea who is going to show up at your door. The agent secures your booking and then goes out to find who is available for the price that the agent is willing to pay. This is true regardless of the type of event.

So tread carefully; there’s a lot more to the price that you were quoted than meets the eye; and ear! Ask questions. Do your homework. And you’ll hire the right entertainer and have a great event.


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