Welcome, because of the large number of emails asking about this topic, I wanted to talk briefly about the differences between talent agents and managers as pertaining to representing actors.
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Talent agents are licensed by territory or state. Their commission structure is normally 10% for all SAG-AFTRA or AEA union jobs and most take 20% for non-union jobs because the payouts are much smaller.
An agent’s job is to get the actor job opportunities and work. Except in rare cases, do not expect them to give you guidance or advice career wise.
As a rule, an agent wants the actor to have all their casting site materials in order so the agent can pitch and submit the actor for jobs. When they secure auditions, they expect the actor to be totally professionally in the way it is handled and to be an ideal client.
If you book the job and are professional you will have a relationship that is lucrative. If you do not book and are unprofessional you will most likely to be dropped.
Talent Managers are not licensed, but the good ones are known and vetted by the industry. There are manager organizations such as TMA (Talent Managers Association), but most managers I know are not part of any organization.
As managers are not licensed, it is important to get references from people you trust before you sign with one.
Managers will guide your career, manage your business, take calls, schedule and making sure you make your deadlines, etc.
A manager will want to periodically speak to you, giving advice, handling PR, etc. They will also try to help you get an agent when the time is right.
On the Step Forward Entertainment site, I create promotional ‘Shout Out’ pages (similar to EPK – electronic press kit) for clients that are doing a lot of work and look to help them PR wise when I can.
A manager with clout, will reconize the need of their client and will help hire lawyers, PR reps, accountants, etc. and advise them where to go for different needs.
It is important to know that the client should always makes all the decisions in their career, while taking advice from the manager.
Management commissions range from 10% to 20% or more. I take 10% when a client has an agent and books a series regular lead, Broadway show lead or major feature film lead. Otherwise I work on 15% commission and 20% for print and modeling work (standard in the industry).
Most major actors with careers have both an agent and a manager. On a rare occasion you find a well-known actor who manages his or her own career, like Tyne Daly, but that is rare.
A majority of my clients come from people I trust. I like that because it allows the both of us to come from a place of trust. I have had a few problems over the 14 years since returning to full-time talent management because of this model.
However, if you are a beginner and you have an agent, you do not necessarily need a manager at that point.
Should an actor not be able to acquire an agent, then this actor would need to find a manager to help them. Agents don’t necessarily want to develop careers as they usually have 1 or 2 year contracts at the beginning and need to earn money sooner than later.
Unlike an agent, managers usually have 3, 4 or 5 year contracts and are willing to not make money at the beginning in order to develop the actor’s career.
Actors can find a manager that does submit to casting sites because many have breakdowns and casting networks, etc.
If you have any questions, please e-mail so I can either answer them personally or do a video column on it if I feel it has large interest among our viewers.
Thank you and have a great day!
Bob Blume’s company site is www.StepForwardEntertainment.com
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