Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Industry Insider

Managers and Agents

The term "manager" is one of the most misunderstood terms in the field of modeling. New models, particularly on the Internet, don't understand the difference between a manager and an agent. That is easy to understand since there are many people on the Net who portray themselves as managers, when in fact, they are more closely operating in the form of an unlicensed agent.

A talent manager, also known as a personal manager, is one who guides the career of artists in the entertainment business. The responsibility of the talent manager is to oversee the day to day business affairs of a model/talent; to advise and counsel talent about professional matters and personal decisions which may affect their career. Managers are more or less the quarterback of the team, setting a direction, telling the model/talent what they need to do to compete - and giving them the bad news in terms of what they cannot do. Managers make a percentage of what the model or talent earns -- not for specific bookings but for their overall earnings generated in the entertainment arena. The percentage may vary, but not to exceed 20%. It is critical, however, that the talent manager only receive this percentage AFTER the model or talent has received payment for their work, not BEFORE. But a lot of the income that can be generated by a talent manager includes workshop and/or seminar fees, photography portfolios, printing services, web services, resume services, and more. These services are not considered to be talent management, as a definition, but are important support functions for models and talent.

While managers won't represent a model directly, as an agent will, they will help them network and will promote them to the industry. These activities will help a model get bookings they would otherwise not get had they been working on their own. Models will often have more than one agent representing them in different areas, such as commercial modeling, fashion modeling, and acting (normally theatrical or commercial). On the other hand, no model or actor should have more than one manager. An agent is one who, acts in the model's stead, negotiates contracts for her, books the assignment on her behalf, does the billing and remits her monies upon payment from the client. Agents respect managers who perform the function they are intended to do. Indeed, agents work with competent managers because it is to their benefit to have the best talent available. Recently, a number of well-known agents have become managers because of the increased flexibility management has. Agents are restricted from production because of union contracts and have limitations on what they can do for their clients based on the covenants of their licenses. Many agents have found that they can be more effective as managers, and thus have made the switch. By removing the restrictions an agent has, a manager can often open doors for talent that they couldn't do as an agent.

Truly understanding what a manager does as oppose to what an agent does, is the key to selecting a good one and advancing a model's career.