If you’re trying to get into the entertainment business, there might be a few terms you’ll need to know. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be defining some important key aspects of the entertainment industry to give a clearer picture of how it works and who does what. This week we’re discussing talent agents.
What does an agent do?
Agents have access to descriptions of major projects and casting calls for larger roles. You might think you don’t need an agent because you’ve seen casting calls posted online, but those aren’t usually the higher paying, more serious roles. Most online casting call websites post calls for extras or stand-ins. These are great opportunities to get on a set and learn more about production, but they won’t be the leading roles.
In order to get the high-profile jobs (like leading roles in a play, movie, or television show) you’ll have to be represented by an agent. The casting directors for those bigger projects don’t usually post those leading roles online.
Agents work with a licensed talent agency in their field. They specialize in what kind of talent they want to represent. Some agents might only specialize in representing singers while others take actors, singers, and dancers as clients.
Talent agents are licensed by the state that they operate in. As for money, they take up to 20 percent of their client’s earnings from a job that they book them for.
How are agents different from managers?
If you’re just getting started in the entertainment business, agents and managers may seem to have the same job and just have different titles. But that isn’t entirely true.
Managers can work with talent longer than agents and usually sign a long-term agreement. While they can and do book jobs because of their relationships with casting directors and producers, their main focus is helping their clients in their overall career.
They are the ones who help talent with their headshots, talk them through the process of auditioning and what to wear, and give them tips from the business side of the industry.
The business of managing is different than agencies as well. Managers don’t have to be legally licensed with the state to operate and can take up to 15 percent of their client’s earnings on jobs.
How to choose
Between agents and managers, the best option will be determined by where you are in your career and what area of entertainment you will be working in. Agents usually have more client contacts in their immediate region while managers may be networked throughout various regions.
Actors, singers, and dancers often benefit from a manager. Models usually start with an agent and may desire a manager as their career progresses.
Managers are extremely valuable with complicated contracts, business dealings, and relationships with other industry professionals. There’s actually an increasing amount of talent who are hiring managers along with agents.
If you’re just looking for an agent, however, you will need to look at what their agency specializes in. Is it bi-coastal? What is it known for? Have you heard of any other talent being represented by that specific agency?
Be smart in making these decisions because at the end of the day it is a business and your career is on the line. Your agent will be your go to person for jobs and you want to make sure they’re a right fit for the type of entertainment or art you want to get into.
If you have any other questions about agents, managers, or how Discovery Spotlight can connect you with either, call us today at (843) 849-2560.