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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Raising rates for kid / birthday shows (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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JamesinLA
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Since we're looking at a new year, I wanted to start a discussion on the topic of raising rates for the coming year specifically for kid shows / birthday shows. Is there a glass ceiling beyond which we can't raise rates in this particular venue?
I have three shows of different prices for people to choose from. I would love to raise my rates but I am afraid of raising the price of my base show. I was thinking about increasing the difference in price between the three shows. Currently the shows are priced $50 apart. 200, 250, 300. (Now you know my prices.) I was talking with a friend and he is also worried about going above 200 for his basic show. What do you guys think? Thanks.

Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
KC Cameron
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I think when you raise your rates, you are going after a different economic group, so it could take some time as you gain different clients. By staggering rates you help solve that issue by appealing to a wider base. I also think the higher your price, the better performance people expect. It is also a classic sales tool to bring people in on one price and talk them up in small increments.

Here in Raleigh, (as in LA) we have some extremely wealthy people, and the price difference between a entertainer that charges $195 and $395 is not a big deal when it comes to their child's birthday. Many people will assume (right or wrong) that the more expensive entertainer is the better entertainer.

Last week I did a party for a 4 y/o and they had a live band too. I wish I was charging more than I did . . . I am bringing up my rates.
JamesinLA
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Captain Kid,
I have had the same experience. I often do shows for people who will not blink at my most expensive show. They don't even hesistate that that's the one they want. They often then give me large tips as well. I know I could easily charge a lot more for them and they wouldn't care; I think a higher price tag would, in fact, increase their perceived value of me and my shows. However, there are other people who get sticker shock at my lowest priced show. I did a lot of those lower priced shows this summer. Maybe the answer for now would be to increase the price between the shows. Instead of $50 apart I could raise it to $75 apart?

Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
KC Cameron
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Perhaps $50 between the lowest two and $75 between the middle and highest, with a "Super Show" that is a lot higher. As you book more higher shows, you can faze-out the lower shows. If you lose clients, act as an agent for a less expensive magician. They are going somewhere else anyway, might as well create good will and a little $$.
MagicSanta
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You both are in completely different markets with different situations, competition, driving conditions, living expenses, etc.. Good luck coming to a conclusion...perhaps someone in Kentucky will find value in it.

James, Los Angeles is too vague. In some areas your rates are very low, in others about right, you also have a huge amount of people trying for the same gig you are in many parts of LA. Why not give it a shot, ask what you think is fair, and if you are losing too many fishes then you adjust again. You can also check on what is being charged by others in your area. Don't worry about what is going on in Podunk unless you live there, LA is an unusual market.
KC Cameron
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Well, I have lived in both, and I don't think they are that different. Both have some very wealthy people, and many of the higher end are alike. Software and Medical Research/ Medical sales are very big here, as well as some top schools like UNC & Duke. Chapel Hill is well know for it's extremely liberal politics, and we have our share of "interesting" religious people. In both cities there are a TON of people of foreign decent, MUCH larger than the norm. Here we have a lot of Mexicans and Asians, with a fair amount of people from the Middle East - currently about half of my clients fall into one of these groups. In both cities, it is difficult to live w/o a car (as opposed to NYC). The Raleigh area is no Podunk. I would say the average house where I do a birthday party is valued at $450,000 or more (very high for the South). The rest of NC may qualify to one extent or another, but not Raleigh. Obviously, the Raleigh area (we call it the "Triangle") is smaller, but we have areas that produce well and others that don't. We have a lot of great children's magicians going after the same gig. To name a few that post here, Jeff Jones, Skip, and Tate, with a host of newer guys.

I think what the two of us are discussing will work in any large market that has a wide range of income. The rates may vary, but the idea works. World over, people associate price with quality (right or wrong), and in most of America anyway (middle class and up, our market group), people spend a big chunk of their cash on their kids - perhaps too much.



Now, I would say it is a lot different than NY
MagicSanta
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You don't think there is a difference between the LA market and the Raleigh market? Oh my....
KC Cameron
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I did not say that. First, I am talking about the Raleigh Area (the Triangle). Second, I said I don't think they are that different as per what we were discussing - we were discussing marketing in specific, using a spread of rates for maximum work and growth. LA is bigger, more expensive, and you have the movie industry, and more gang activity and more silicon - but I doubt James is really effected by these (save cost of living). Is it the same, no, but for purposes of this conversation, yes. Could he be going after a niche market specific to LA? Not that he mentioned.

Have you spent much time in both areas, or are you blowing smoke?
MagicSanta
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I was raised in the South june bug and spent the last 20 plus years in California between Los Angeles county and San Francisco. The triangle (famous for underwear production) is only about three million people short of Los Angeles city and nine m-m-m-million off from the county of LA. Bad magicians in Los Angeles are better than good magicians in most other areas, same goes with Chicago and New York. There are also many more magicians in the area as well as other competing individuals, parks, events, restaurants, all kinds of fun stuff like that. LA also has more and better looking women...of course most come from other parts of the country. They have weather, money, and packs of parents who ignore their kids most the time so they make it up with lil' birthday parties. They are not at all the same market. The wonderful thing is you all go ahead and pretend it is, I'll watch and giggle. Oh, before ya run off to Piggly Wiggly LA is far different than San Francisco, but closer than y'all in the way people are. There are very few big markets in the US when you come right down to it....and y'all ain't even close. There is nothing wrong with that by the way, I just moved recently to a very small market, our biggest city actually is smaller than Raleigh, and because of that I have to take into consideration income, how families are structured, distances, demographics....because I'm not foolish enough to think the area can be approached with the same methods as I had in California. For instance while I use to be able to charge between $300 and $500 a show w/o a problem there is no way I can do that here, I have to bring it down by more than half and that is cool cuz that is the market.
JamesinLA
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Captain Kid, I think you're suggestion is a good one, to increase the difference in price of my most expensive show. That would also make me feel better about it because it's a lot of work that show.
Magic Santa, I think your last paragraph is useful because it is on topic. Thank you. Where your in San Fran or LA when you charging the prices you stated? Thanks.

Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
MagicSanta
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I didn't do much magic in LA but did writing with people. LA magicians are freakin good, you know, you see 'em. In the bay area I held my own, in LA I was a punk. In SF 400 is pretty standard, the further you get from the city the price goes down but stays around $250 and above...lots of money and guilt there.
KC Cameron
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You seem to forget - I have lived in both, my lil' sister lives in LA now.

Famous for underwear production???????? You are confused. I have been in NC for nearly 10 years and this is the first time I have heard about that. I have never heard of ANY major clothes production here . . . Yes, in NC, not Raleigh. You are confused . . . You say "Y'all" which is NOT Raleigh - Raleigh if full of transplants (like LA) - tons of NYC and Florida transplants. As for the quality of children's magicians, I completely disagree. Yes, LA is larger, and so will have more magicians, and the Hollywood element will attract a few better ones - but more adult magicians than kid's magicians. I have seen a number of LA children's magicians . . . and they were no better. I use do develop graphics for a number of them. The average is about the same. The bell curve stretches out more because of it's size.

You seem to be hooked on price. Price is not the topic - it is a spread of prices to attract a larger market share. I have yet to hear you say why that wouldn't work in any city.

Sure, as I said, cost of living is higher, so the cost of a show will be more on average more expensive, but . Since the price of props is the same, they will have nicer props. Still, a local children's magician here is now charging $475 for a BP, and I will be bringing my prices up soon too. I am not as established as he is yet, but the market is there.
magic4u02
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Great information here folks and wonderful sharing. I want to try and make a small index here from what we have so far. Just a quick reference index on location and what people have said in regards to price ranges in that location. I think it could help benefit a lot of folks. Hopefully people will chime in and ae can add to this.

Las Angeles area: 200-300
Raleigh, NC: 200-400
SanFrancisco Area: 300-500
SanFrancisco Burbs: From 250
Philadelphia Burbs: 200-350

If anyone wants to add to this or give their price ranges in their own areas, that would be great. Hopefully this will be helpful to a degree and maybe we will start to see patterns or trends we can learn from.

Kyle
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Dennis Michael
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Northern New Jersey: 250-450
Southern New Jersey: 200-350 for Birthday Parties
Dennis Michael
magic4u02
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Great information Den. I think if everyon pitches in we could get a really nice range of prices for different areas. Obviously it would not be set in stone, but at least we would start to see information that we can use and learn from. We might start to see trends forming that we can talk about and discuss openly. If you post, thank you in advance. Keep in mind we are looking for specific area you live in and the general price range for a birthday party in that area.

Kyle
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KC Cameron
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James
I think there is a "glass ceiling" - but it depends on the social/economic group. the US is stratifying fast, and we are getting a lot more of super wealthy and a lot more poor. If you can market successfully to the very wealthy, you can charge more. There are fewer in each successive economic group, so your pool of potential parties goes down. At the same time, fewer magicians are marketing to the higher end parties. I believe in most cities there is enough wealthy clients to support a $500 entertainer - you just have to make the market.

To look at another market which I am very familiar is the mobile DJ. Here, DJs would say that they could not charge more than $500 for a wedding. At the time, a really high end DJ for this area charged $650. Seven years later, that DJ is now charging $1450. Most brides here won't pay that, and truthfully, you can get a comparable DJ for half that. He found the market of the wealthier couples who don't want a rinky dink band, can't afford (or find) a good wedding band, so they use him. Now those that were whining about raising their prices are all in the $800-1200 range, and it is considered norm for a better DJ.

When I left Raleigh the first time, I was charging $195 for a BD and most everyone else was charging $125 or less. I am not saying I was better - just charged more, and thus got a different market. When other magicians saw that I was charging more and getting it, their prices went up. Now, I think if you want to get a decent magician you need to expect to pay at least that amount. Since magicians here are now getting paid more, the quality has gone way up. They can afford to use better props, and can take the time to develop themselves. We are doing things that I would not have imagined 5 years ago for a BD party. The person who is pushing the envelope in Raleigh now is Jeff Jones, a transplant from Vegas.

I think the main issue when it comes with pricing is we price what WE think is fair. Since most of us are not wealthy, we price ourselves for middle class and don't think we are worth more. We think $400 is outrageous - and it is for our economic group, but not for the guy in the 3 million dollar house. My current goal is to make 2k a week. Sometimes make it, often I don't. I won't make it unless I charge appropriately.
MagicSanta
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I want to salute Jeff Jones. I looked him up and there are four pages of his name. He knows how to get his name out there when searches are done, way to go. I don't know how he does it but that is what works baby! He has a nice web site and it seems other than Raleigh he worked a lot of Lima, Ohio, which is just like Las Vegas. Oh Captain, when I looked your name up I saw your site but also saw a YouTube thingy and hoped it was magic but it was just you making balloon animals and saying 'errrgh' in a rough voice. I don't know how it works but you may want to get a youtube video of magic up to replace the one someone put up of the balloons.

Mr. Jones, if you see this can you post tips on how to get a web site to reference when searches are done? I think that would be helpful.
JamesinLA
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Thank you CaptainKid for your posts and to the others.
Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
sspanks
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Atlanta $225-$350 in my experience
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KC Cameron
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Thanks Jim, I am happy to help, and as Santa will point out, my advise is worth every penny you paid for it.

MS,
Jeff pays a company to be a SEO for his web site. It does an OK job. What I imagine you are seeing is references to Jeff. He does a lot of fairs & corporate work, and just in the last few years started pursuing birthdays seriously. (Opposite of most). Doing pubic shows will get you a lot of references from sites of clients. Doing private parties does not work as well when it comes to getting online references. If you want to optimize a website yourself, search for "SEO" or "SEO instructions" or better yet "SEO FORUMS". The standard program for optimizing websites is "Web Position Gold". While their are a number of programs to do this, this is the leader. There are also a number of programs that specialize in just small part of optimizing. The other thing for raising your search engine results is getting links from related web sites, getting on DMOS, etc.

Yes, Jeff currently does work out of Ohio. I said he was FROM Vegas, I did not say he was currently working there. Previously he was a hand to a very famous Vegas magic act. I am not sure if he had his own show at that time or not. He was very lucky and got to see the inner workings of how a national act was put together. That, and a lot of hard work, talent and creativity have made him a very good performer at a fairly young age.

As for the balloon video, I rarely do balloons anymore. 20 years ago my balloons were great, but I have not learned any new sculptures since then, so now, I would rate my self as good (a bit better than most magicians and clowns, far, far worst than a real balloonist). For me, ballooning has always been about interaction with the kids, not the balloons themselves. While I like doing balloons, I like magic better -and it pays better. A piece of advice Jeff told me was "People view your show quality by your weakest presentation." I believe that is true, and balloonists are seen as a lesser talent to magic (I am not saying that is true or not) so I have dropped balloons (unless asked).

I would have dropped the video (just an average BP with a unmanned camera, virtually unedited) but you and a couple others made such a big deal of it I wasn't going to turn tail and run. The kids enjoyed it, in my estimation much more than most balloon shows, but it was not my finest moment either. I am not sure if I EVER put a link to it on any of my sites. It was a demo for another performer when we were discussing presentation for a balloon show for young kids. A unmanned video camera with unedited footage never comes close to a professionally shot & edited video. I do imagine it is time to take it down.

I am sorry you don't like my "rough voice" (pretty accurate) or "drill Sergeant" like presentation (yes, I scream at kids), but the kids love it and I am, after all, a pirate. Most of the pirates I have heard about were not "Gentlemen". I did not create the persona to appeal to magicians, and I break a lot of "rules". Magicians don't pay my bills. I listen and weigh advice, and have learned and discovered a lot here in the Café, but I am happy I am somewhat unique. Staying with the "herd" is a good, safe way to be, just not my me. I am not the silly kid's magician in bright clothes, nor the "serious" kid's magician pulling doves and acts of wonder. I am not a "glam" magician with a shiny costume and props. All these magicians, and various combinations do wonderful shows - but they are not me. My clothes are relatively dull (but somewhat authentic), I don't use the wonderful Wolf's props, and while I treasure wonder in my show, it is not the goal. My goal is to entertain. As much as we in the Café like to rate each other, for me it comes down to happy clients. My show is built around my persona, and I have made a lot of kids very happy. I certainly don't think everyone should model their show after mine, nor have I ever said I don't have a lot to learn. I do know this style works VERY WELL FOR ME.
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