This week, I learned the importance of talent having an agent. Agents make publicists lives easier, because they agent (or do agenting). I can do more PR, social media, marketing, etc. for clients who have agents. Agents also get work for the talent, so they can actually pay you. Some people say you need four people for a successful career—an agent, a manager and publicist, and eventually a lawyer if you make it big enough. First thing you need on that list is an agent—getting work on your own can be hard. Agents have connections and established relationships with studios and directors. Managers and publicists have other responsibilities, and if they are looking for work for you, it’s taking time away from keeping you on track or making you famous. Agents also help deflect a lot of drama that goes along with work/projects. As a publicist, I prefer for my clients to have an agent (or agency) and have helped some of my talent find one.
What Do Agents Do
Agents wear many hats, but here are a few things they do:
- Oversee that everything is OK on the set—if there’s a problem, you call them and they take care of it (whether you leave the set or everything gets resolved).
- Make sure you’re physically safe and don’t send you to directors or studios they are unsure of—they make sure it’s not a “private”, but a real gig.
- Guarantee that you get paid—you leave with a check in hand unless it’s decided you get a payroll check. You don’t have to deal with shady directors just choosing not to pay you. And if you don’t get that payroll check, they go after whoever owes you.
- Call you ahead of time (usually the day before) and let you know what’s in store—who you’ll be working with, what to wear/bring and other pertinent details.
- Agencies make sure your tests are up to date—many will remind you if you’re coming up on your tests being expired and this will guarantee you won’t lose a job due to an outdated test.
- Take your side when you need them, but let you know when you’ve screwed up (mainly so it won’t happen again). You might even find one that will do damage control and make sure your reputation stays intact when things go wrong.
What It’s Going to Cost You
Agents don’t work for free and require a fee of 10-15%, depending on the agency. They get you gigs you might not get for yourself, so you’ll be bringing in more cash and potentially working with people you would not have on your own. Their job is to pay your work and they’re motivated, because the more you work, the more they get paid.
Things to Ask An Agent Before Signing with Them
You should look at an agent or agency’s roster before signing with them—see who they currently have and look into how much work their girls are getting. Do your homework before you meet with them, because they have done theirs on you. Before signing, you’ll need to find out a few things:
- The most important one would be can they get you work. There’s no point in being part of agency just to be on a site. Ask if they don’t get you work in a specified amount of time (like two to three months) if you can void your contract.
- Is there a contract and how long is it for—this is also important to know if you’re exclusive or can work with other agents, directors or studios on your own. Most agencies are exclusive and those ones tend to offer you the best deal.
- What is the percentage they take? Do they charge for driver service?
A Few More Things Before You Sign
Ask yourself things like do I click with my agent or agency and can I work well with them. Check out their style and see if you can work with that in long run. Know how they work and even ask around. Do you want a laid back agent who waits for the phone to ring or an aggressive agent? Can you deal with someone who is honest and will let you know when you mess up? Is your agent reputable and how is he or she seen in the industry? Is most of their talent happy? Remember, all agencies aren’t ideal, so make sure to do your homework.
You Decide to Go It Alone
Some girls (and guys) decide to do it one their own. They have email accounts set up for bookings and hit up studios and directors on their own. Others set up their own sites specifically for booking with photos, measurements and contact info. Some talent has found success this way, but others don’t. Agenting for yourself will take up a lot of your time and energy. If you have a great sales pitch, it could work. You might also have a manager or publicist that can help you, but they won’t be doing what they do best—managing or making you famous. Sometimes, all you need to do is find another agent or agency, if you’re not happy. But before you decide to leave your agency or not sign with an agent, really think it through. Hopping from agency to agency will get you a reputation, and not a good one. Perception is everything in this business.