What Drives the Cost of Private Event Entertainment?
Let’s say you’re throwing a private party for your spouse’s 40th birthday, or perhaps you are considering entertainment for a Gala Fundraising Dinner for your nonprofit organization. Maybe you saw a Dueling Piano show or a really good party band on your vacation to NYC last month and you want them to entertain for your special event. The things that you see are great entertainment. But it’s the things you don’t see that the professional event entertainer is probably going to base his price on. Here are 8 that you should be aware of before you contact your entertainment provider for a price quote:
The entire time the entertainer will need to be at the venue. This includes the time for setup (I like giving myself 3 hours to load in and set up my sound, lights and 2 grand pianos) plus sufficient buffers in case something unforeseen happens such as needing to run out to Guitar Center to replace a broken cord. It also includes time during the event that I’m not performing but that I am still set up. So even though my performance ends at 9, I can’t begin breaking down until 10:30. So a 90 minute Dueling Piano show may require 8 or 9 hours of my time at the venue.
Travel time with buffers for traffic. It takes about 90 minutes for me to travel from NYC to Philly, but I will probably want to give myself an extra hour (at least) in case something unforeseen happens. My clients do not care that there was traffic on the NJ Turnpike. They expect that a professional will be there on time. This takes planning.
Event Insurance. Will the entertainer be required to provide a commercial insurance liability binder possibly naming the venue as additional insured? Some entertainers pay for these policies annual, while others purchase them for each individual event as needed. Regardless, it’s a very real cost of business.
Your choice of day/date: There are only 52 Saturday nights in a year. These are valuable commodities to performers who may only work 4 or 5 shows per month. Most performers put a slight premium on weekends because they know they are more likely to get a booking even if they don’t get yours. This is why you expect to pay more for events on New Year’s Eve, or Saturdays in December.
The size of your venue determines the sound production required. If you are doing an event for 750 people, your professional event entertainer better bring a sound system that can fill up that space, and these systems aren’t cheap. Your performer has paid thousands of dollars for (hopefully) good professional sound gear just so that she is ready to provide quality production for your event and others like it. The cost of this equipment as well as upkeep and upgrades will be part of the professional’s equation when bidding a job.
The cost of moving and storing equipment. Many entertainers have technicians that they pay to move and set up their equipment. Some have purchased large vans and trucks to move our equipment from job to job. Others have the equipment professional stored for easy access. They may insure this equipment against damage and theft.
The cost of maintaining advertising, websites and referral services. This is the cost of doing business. How did you find your entertainer? Maybe they paid for Google Adwords so that when you searched the term “Party Entertainment NYC” their ad came up. You clicked on their add, which brought you to their professionally designed website where you looked at their professionally shot and edited video reel and photos. You better believe that every one of these elements took significant time and expense to get right.
Act development and prior experience of the performer. This is the part that is illusive to the purchaser. The good news is that the better the video is, and the better the performance is, the more you can be sure that attention has been paid to this most crucial part of professional event entertainment. Obviously if someone has spent a lifetime developing their talents and skills, they expect to be compensated appropriately.
These are just some of the considerations that your performer will have in his or her mind when they are considering what to charge for your performance. If you receive a bid that seems too good to be true, I would start to question the actual value of that act with the above points in mind.
About the author: Eddie Lawrence has been entertaining crowds since he was 7 years old. He has been providing entertainment for events large and small for the past 15 years and is a self-appointed guru in booking entertainment for special events. His company, New York, NY Dueling Pianos provides interactive entertainment for corporations and individuals seeking something unique and fun.
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