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This article explores why some entertainers can charge much more than others.
To really fully understand this aspect of show business, the first thing you have to do is to eliminate the notion of a “market price”. A market price is but a mere guideline but in no way binds you to charge a particular fee.
A perceived “market price” is a rough median of what entertainers may generally charge in a specific market but this does not need to apply to you if you are not in that specific market or if you are completely unique from anyone else in that same market.
It is because there is no such thing as a “market price” that some artistes can charge 10, 20 or even 50 times more than others. Yes, you read correct. If you charge $500 for a show, there is someone who can command $5000, $10,000 or even $25,000 for the same duration of show.
The biggest fallacy I have heard an entertainer state is that clients want the cheapest entertainer they can get. That is completely false. While it might apply to a small percentage of budget-conscious clients who just need some kind of entertainment and are not concerned with quality, clients DO NOT always want the cheapest.
What clients always want is – the best value for money entertainer they can afford.
But, the point of interest in this article is to understand how entertainers can get more shows that pay more. Why are some entertainers able to command higher paying shows than others?
The answer is simple once you understand the distinction between price and value. Price is what a client pays but value is what you deliver.
The reason why an entertainer can charge much more than others is because he/ she has been able to raise his/ her value substantially, in the eyes of the market.
The next question is then “how does an entertainer raise his/ her value?”
The first most obvious reason is that some entertainers have some level of celebrity, influence and mainstream media attention. Realistically, only top 1 – 2 % in any given market or region can reach this level. And even so, there are A, B & C-level celebrities.
More often than not, an entertainer who has risen to a mainstream celebrated status within a regional, national or international market has something unique to offer that intrigues and creates commercial interest. Whether you like them or not, they have something of high value to offer that the media, clients, the market and their fan base appreciate.
There are many variables that distinguishes these “celebrity” entertainers. Some of these variables include:
- Superior technique, skills & knowledge in their field.
- Distinct Personality. Whether you like or hate him or her, a celebrity with a distinct personality stands out from the rest.
- Physical Looks. The media/saturated world is unfortunately a very superficial one. The fact is – The best-looking people do have it easier. The good news is that even if you are not good looking, you can still cheat through styling and wardrobe.
- Originality & Innovation. There is something original or innovative about their art or the way they present their art. Do not underestimate the latter. The perception of a different presentation of an art is very powerful.
- Work Ethic. Most celebrity artistes are known for their strong work ethic. Do you work 18 hours a day? Probably not,if you want a life. But, then again, most celebrities don’t have a life because they work hard to get results that make them a celebrity. It is a vicious cycle.
- Mass Commercial Appeal. While you might have superior skills, the personality, the work ethic and originality that differentiates you from other entertainers, the important question is whether your differentiating factor is commercial and if it appeals to the masses? If it does not, you will either cater to a very small cult audience or you will be typecast as a deviant.
- X-Factor. This is the elusive ingredient that is usually some kind of combination of the above factors. It is almost impossible to define it but you will know it when you see it.
In addition to the above, there is an element to luck. But if you truly examine the careers and success of celebrities, you will realize that that their “luck” was really their talent and ability to capitalize on an opportunity and continue to leverage on it for future success. They stepped up to the plate and delivered when it mattered. Many people do get opportunities but unfortunately when it counts the most, fail to deliver that would catapult them to the next level.
If there is someone who has reached a high level of success and is constantly operating at a high level over a significant period (for e.g. 10 years of more), it is unlikely that “luck” is the only factor for his/ her success. Chances are, there is something extraordinary about him/ her that creates high value to his/ her market.
Don’t confuse a strong celebrity brand that is sustained over a significant period of time with “flash in the pan” media spotlight. A “flash in the pan” may be in the news for the wrong reasons, or it may be just one lucky break that never goes anywhere.
At this point, you might be thinking that trying to attain a mainstream celebrity recognition is not within your reach (yet). Yes, we can all try to reach a celebrated status, but the reality is, it is not a reality that most of us can enjoy.
But, there is good news! You can still get more shows that pay more even if you are not a celebrity.
It is very simple: Increase your value and you will be in a position to get more shows that pay more.
So, how do you go about increasing your value?
The solution can be summed up in a single sentence:
An Entertainer has a Higher Value when the Consumers Believe the Entertainer Offers a Differentiated Quality Product in the Relevant Niche Market.
This may sound very convoluted so please read that sentence again and try to digest it.
The entertainer’s value is directly proportionate to the consumers’ belief in the entertainer’s differentiated quality product and the value of the niche market itself.
- The stronger the consumers’ belief, the higher the value they will attach to the entertainer.
- The higher quality the product, the more the entertainer is valued
- The more differentiated the product is, the more the entertainer is valued
- The higher the value of the niche market, the higher the value of the entertainer that caters to that specific niche market.
To elaborate on the last point: The value of the niche market refers to the level that consumers spend on products in a specific specialized market. The more consumers are willing to spend, the higher value the market is.
So, the diamond market is considered a higher value market than the toy market because consumers are generally willing to spend more on diamonds than on toys.
Your job is to figure out how to ensure your show is of high quality, is different from your competition and find a good niche market that you can own.
Understanding how to get more shows that pay more is the first step. The next step is to take action to differentiate your product, increase your value, identify and own a niche market.
The entire strategies and tactics are details in my book “The Showbiz Master Plan” that is a live entertainer’s blueprint to creating a money-generating brand, making a consistent 6-figure income and setting up for retirement.