A variety of entertainers can be booked for events such as children’s birthday parties, weddings, school shows or corporate events. Magicians, face painters, balloon twisters, dancers, DJs and more are all available to entertain guests. The cost for booking an artist depends on the artist’s experience and business model as well as a number of other factors, such as contract requirements, travel expenses, and possibly food and drink. Some artists charge by the hour, while others charge a set fee plus expenses for their services. The size of the venue and the number of people at the event also factor into the final cost.
Finding an artist
Many artists—and not just the top-selling pop stars—work through agencies. If you want to book a specific musician or DJ, you might have to go through a booking agency or manager. When booking artists, through an agent or directly, expect to pay a deposit, ranging $25 to several thousands of dollars, depending on the artists’ overall fees.
Booking children’s entertainers
Magicians, face painters and balloon twisters are among the most commonly booked entertainers for kids’ birthday parties. These entertainers sometimes charge lower fees for children’s parties than adult events. Some entertainers, including magicians, often tailor their act for their audience. New York illusionist Matias Letelier in New York, for example, has a clean comedy for children as well as a range of other acts for different settings. Boston magician Eric Benton specializes in parlor magic and also has a show for children.
Booking adult entertainers
While some artists offer shows for children, others specialize in adult acts for corporate events, trade shows or company parties. The entertainers at Abracadabra Productions in Portland, Maine, for example, perform sleight of hand tricks, illusions and comedy with a theme that matches the client’s corporate philosophy or marketing messages.
The average cost of hiring a magician is $225. The average length of a children’s party act is typically 30–45 minutes long, but some magicians also provide face painting or balloon twisting services for additional fees. Some charge by the hour, with hourly rates ranging from $150 to $500, depending on the size of the event and the audience. Others charge by the event. Some magicians might also provide gift bags to children for less than $5 each.
Face painters are a popular option for children’s parties. They should provide all their own materials as well as set up and tear down their space before and after the party. Like magicians, face painters typically charge by the hour, but many charge additional fees based on the number of quests. For instance, one hour of service for 10 children costs $100, and up to five additional guests cost another $40. For larger events, many face painters charge by the hour.
Some face painters, such as Creative Faces in Los Angeles, also offer airbrush tattooing and henna tattoos. For 10 to 14 people, Creative Faces offers ornate designs for the following prices:
One hour: $125 an hour
90 minutes: $160
Two hours: $195
150 minutes: $225
Three hours: $255
Creative Faces offers the following add-on services for these hourly rates:
Glitter and mica tattoos: $25
Hair feathers: $20
Jewelry for face paintings: $25
Packages that include face painting, henna tattoos, glitter tattoos and hair features range from $150 per hour to $315 for three hours.
Balloon twisters are another popular choice for young children’s birthday parties. Highly skilled entertainers, such as Circus Dynamics in Providence, Rhode Island, or Balloons by Zippy in Washington, D.C., can make an astonishing variety of shapes, including hats, animals, toys and other sculptural forms. They generally charge by the hour. For example, Chicago’s TwistiCity charges $120 an hour, including all the balloons and air pumps.
DJs, such as Coastal Music Services in Salisbury, Massachusetts, are available for all kinds of parties, and they generally provide their own state-of-the-art equipment and current music. The cost for DJs varies the most among entertainers, in large part because some are much more highly skilled and better trained than others. For a four-hour wedding, couples can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $2,500.
Most DJs charge by the hour for other types of events. Some DJs, including Bill Pence of Folsom, California, also offer karaoke and even lighting services for additional fees. For example, a basic package with one DJ generally costs $125 an hour. Adding a minimal light show costs $150 an hour, and adding karaoke services costs $150 an hour. A package that includes all three services is about $175 an hour.