Which is the best market for kids entertainment? In this post, I’m going to be bold and give you my opinion on which children’s entertainment gig is best.
Over the years, Obediah and I have performed at all of the venues listed below. For each item, I give a pay range from 1-10, with 10 being the highest pay potential. The reason I am not using actual money figures is that specific pay varies depending on your location and your reputation. I also state what I personally like about each venue. Again, this is based on our experience.
If you are performing a special event, the pay is 4 out of possible 10. But if you perform at a particular school each week (as a musician may), it may only be 2 of 10. What I like about preschool gigs is you can be very goofy, but you need to keep things simple.
2. Shopping Mall “Kids Clubs”
For weekly or monthly “kids clubs”, pay is 3 of 10. For special big holiday or promotional event productions, it can go as high as 7 of 10.
3. Birthday Parties
I have found that parents pay a lot for the very young kids. So let’s just talk about parties for under six-year-olds. The pay can be up to 5 out of 10, though many parents can only pay 3. I have done these shows as a musician and puppeteer and Obediah does the older kids parties as a juggler-comedian. I have stopped doing parties because I prefer school assemblies. (More on that in a bit.)
These are held indoors for shopping malls or outdoors for corporate or municipal events. The pay for “strolling” entertainers is 5 of 10. Facepainters and balloon artists also fall into this category. Obediah does strolling as a juggler or stilt walker. He likes the simplicity of these gigs.
Pay in Southern California is at most 4 of 10. We still do some libraries during the summer when schools are on hiatus. The libraries that promote a regular series (e.g., once a week or once a month) are well-attended. They are fun and your shows don’t need to be as educational as you might think.
The pay is 9 of 10. Keep in mind, however, that to get most theatre gigs, you must attend trade shows such as WAA, Southern Arts, and IPAY. You also usually have to fly to the city, so you have to factor in extra time and expenses.
Obediah and I have done several of these shows in previous years. For one of these theatre gigs, we flew to Artesia, New Mexico. We had to check all of our props, we rented a car and drove another few hours, we stayed in a hotel overnight, we performed one show to about 40 people, and then we flew back. We grossed about $3500 for the gig, but we also spent a lot of money and quite some time, too. Though we love the prestige of theatre, good lighting, etc., we don’t really actively pursue it anymore. I prefer to go home right after a gig.
7. School Assemblies
Pay: 6 out of 10. One huge advantage to school assemblies is that you can work Mondays to Fridays. That leaves your weekends available for your other gigs or your family.
There are also a few more things I especially like about school assemblies:
- Bigger and more impressive productions compared to those of the other venues (except for theatres)
- Students are a captive audience. They LOVE being there. You can use techniques that are more difficult to utilize in other venues (except theatres), such as a silent routine.
- You are guaranteed a large standing-room-only audience of 200-400 kids for each show.
- And most importantly, we are not only entertaining kids, but we are truly making a difference in their lives.
So if you haven’t already guessed, OUR favorite children’s entertainment gigs are school assemblies. And I admit, the school assembly venue spoils me.
What about you? What gigs are best for you? Share them in the comments section below.
In my next blog post, I will go back to the above venues and discuss what performing styles (disciplines) work best for each. Until then.