What to charge for shows?

Question: How should I charge for my performances? I am new at this.

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Answer: Generally, I found that new ventriloquists fall into one of two categories:
1) Those who think they are more skilled than they actually are, and
2) those who are more skilled than they realize.

Here's the important question: Are you able to deliver an entertaining show? Do you have an entertaining act? After seeing you perform once, would your audience want to see you again?

In fairness, without having seen you perform I do not feel I can suggest a price for your show. Prices will also vary according to client and occasion. It will help if you can find out what other entertainers (magicians, clowns, etc.) are charging for similar jobs. I realize the following is not very helpful, but I used to answer this question by saying, "Don't charge more than you're worth, and always deliver a bit more than you were paid for."

Most new performers begin with a few volunteer shows to gain experience before putting a price on their services. Maybe you have progressed beyond this step? If not, then that may be something you will want to consider.
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And now I invite blog visitors to weigh in with their comments on this subject. I am preparing a "themed page" for your comments.


  1. I like your sound advice Mr. D. only other suggestion I may have, is after a number of free shows to help gain experience infront of a Audience, and as you gain more confidence,
    Do some Volentere work for good caulses, Raise some money for Cancer, exc.
    Then put on a show an Do the best you can.
    Before hand suggest to the one putting on an event, to have a break in the middle of the Act.
    then mention that you will be back to proforme more. Have a coffee-cookie break,
    During the break, Have the boss, put out a donation jar and he suggest that the Audience donate something for your efforts. You may be supprised. and get a nice donation for your efforts. Then again, you may not get any money,
    If they liked the First half, they probably will give you a donation, and usually so will the one who is putting on the event. Unless you bomb.
    Just a suggestion,
    Put on the best show you can, dont worry about the funds, If you are good, eventually, you will reap your rewards. Good Luck and enjoy what you are doing. Thanks, Bill

  2. I wonder that myself. When I started my tribute act, I started out $50 an hr then every yr I would go hire. Now, Its different with the economy. I give the customer a price. And if that price is too high, I make a deal with them. I usually charge by the hr. so say a nursing home cant afford the hr. rate. Say they can only give u $85.00. I will take it but only going to give u a half hr or 45 min set. I never refuse shows no matter what. Work with the costumer. Take what u can get. Look @ it this way, It's more than u had in your pocket b4 u booked the show. Happy Venting!! I'm a rookie in the vent business so I honestly dont know how much too charge. any suggestions?

    JIMMY T. from Pennsylvania

  3. Anonymous8/28/2010

    While I am trying to be a vent and having fun, I don't have the confidence to charge yet. However, I am a magician and when I started out I was criticized (by fellow magicians)for not charging enough. At the time I started some magicians were getting $75 for 15 minutes while I charged $35 for 45 minutes. What they failed to realize was that I evaluated the situation. I'm not going to charge the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts what I would charge a bigger event as they can't afford it. What I got in return was a small fee (which was money to replace materials and gas) and people spreading the word of what I could do for larger events. As one's experience and one's act grows so does the fee. But, be reasonable and consider for who you are performing. Today I have been paid $100 for a show of 30-45 minutes. I probably could get more, but it's enough and nothing pays like seeing the faces of those watching the show.
    Note: As a rookie magician I (and a couple others)would visit hospitals and nursing homes to provide some entertainment. No charge, of course. We could try our new routine and not fear in failing as they appreciated the visit, never mind the show. Just an idea as to how to build your confidence and refine your act so you can earn a fee.

  4. Hey Clinton, here is my thought for the person who asked the question about paying gigs. If a vent has to ask how much, they are not ready to be paid or to charge. If a performer really wants the definite time to charge...it's when the client pays you a high fee for your free show, I am not talking about a $20 tip, I'm talking about $75 and above.
    The client will let you know when you are worth something, not the entertainer themselves. I am living proof of this, from 1990 to 1994 I did not charge one cent for shows, I also only did maybe 10 shows a year for those 4 years so I was not ready to charge, I was not polished and my shows were not looked upon as professional. But all those early years paid off and now I have my first check framed from 1995 and that tells me when I was looked upon as a pro and I was ready to charge a fee.

  5. There are a lot of variables when pricing your show; How long a performance. Is it for a small birthday party, a library, a school, corporate picnic. All of the above have different budgets to work with. Also mileage and tolls should be taken into consideration. Get as much information about the affair before quoting a price. Check to see what other performers in your area are charging, you don't want to quote to high ,or too low. If you quote to low, it makes you look inferior, and you will be under pricing the other acts, which can come back to hurt you in the long run. Hope this helps, there is no easy answer.

  6. Anonymous8/29/2010

    I have a set rate of $100 per hour...since most of my shows require travel, I lose time at work and base my rate on double what I would have made at work. I charge $250 for several shows on a given day and I also charge 50 cents per mile -- which covers gas, meals and lodgings in most cases.
    However, if a corporation asks for me, I kick up the fee according to their size and ability to pay... The high fees -- for rural Montana -- allow me to do free shows for churchs and nursing homes.
    I'll do a birthday party for $35 a half hour.