Get An Agent or Do It On Your Own?
Get an Agent or Do it on Your Own?
by Tony Folden
So you’re ready to enter the entertainment business. You want to be a model, a singer, an actor or you’re the “triple threat” – all of the above. Why do you need an agent? Can’t you make more money by eliminating the middleman and doing it all on your own? Perhaps you have an agent. Now you can just sit back and let your agent do all the work, right? Wrong.
First, if you don’t have an agent it’s going to be very difficult to get yourself in front of the right people. Producers of major motion pictures, producers of major musicians, producers of major fashion designers go through agents. Unless you know someone, you’re not going to get in front of those major producers. What you’ll most likely find are free projects and projects the promise to pay you on the “back end.” This means that once the producers have recouped their money, you’ll get a portion of what’s left over. With an agent you’ll get the standard rates set by the unions and you are guaranteed (by your agent) that you’ll get paid.
Second, if you do have an agent, don’t think that you no longer have to go out and look for work on your own. Your agent represents many clients and many talents. You are not the only mule in their stable. If you are serious about your career, then you need to take initiative. Being successful in any career takes dedication and hard work; entertainment is no different.
Third, an agent gets 20 percent of your pay. Does that mean that 20 percent comes out of your check? No. Professional producers that hire talent with an agent pay an extra percentage to the agent on top of your rate. It does not come out of your check. Don’t think that you’ll be getting paid more money if you don’t have an agent.
Fourth, don’t think that you can go out and obtain an agent without experience. Most agents prefer that you have at least two years under your belt. How do you get that experience? The best way is to do some projects for free. Free? Are you crazy? I’m extremely talented! I am way more talented than your average Joe! I would even say that I’m more talented than some of the people already out there! This may be true, but until you have something to showcase that talent, you’re just another fish in the pond. Besides, if you’re really passionate about a career in entertainment, if you really love to entertain, then you should be willing to do it for free, right? I’m not saying you have to do free work forever, just to get a few credits. I’m sure you’ll find a few paying gigs here and there in the mean time.
Finally, be sure a reputable agent is representing you. A professional agency will never ask you to pay them up front. A professional agency will never tell you that you are required to use their photographer. According to the SAGAFTRA website, a legitimate agency will never charge you anything except their fee after they find you work. Be leery of any agency that asks you for any money up front. Do you your homework and investigate any agency before you sign any contracts. Happy hunting and knock ‘em dead!