Things to Consider Before Signing with An Agency

It seems every artist assumes signing with an agency is be the solution to finding more work. They think if they just got an agent the jobs would start flooding in!  Having an agent can be an asset to your career if you partner up with the right company, but signing with the wrong one can make your life more complicated than it’s worth. There are many things to consider before you sign on with any company or agency.

Let’s start by examining what the difference is between an agency and an artist management company. An agent’s function is to bring in immediate work and negotiate job offers. Management companies are more focused on the development of your long-term goals and career path. Once you have an understanding of this you can begin your search… but before you do, here are a few details to ponder:

1. Start out by asking yourself if you are ready to have an agent, generally agents like to take on artists who already have a client base. Just know agencies are in the business of making money. It takes a lot of time and money to develop someone’s career. It just simply isn’t profitable to sign someone who has no client base to build on at all!

2.  Know what type of work you want to be doing. Every agency out there has a unique client base. So make sure the agency’s client pool is a good match for you. Some agencies are more film/tv focused, some music, and others might be print & celebrity. So ask yourself before signing the contract, “Is this the career direction in which I want to go?”

3. Does the agency have experience representing hair & makeup artists? Just because they are an agency with variety of types of artists doesn’t mean they know anything about representing the craft of hair & makeup. You want an agent who has a good eye for quality work, and someone who can help steer your career in the right direction.

4. Ask the agent many questions before signing: Do you consider yourself to be more of an agent or just a management company? Many companies out there just want to manage the client base you already have rather than bring in new clients. If they claim to get you new clients, then ask them what is their method, do they make phone calls, emails, do they do social media? If they can’t or won’t answer these questions then just walk away. Ask them who their clients are and how often they are able to add new clients to their roster of artists. Ask what percentage they take and if they charge an agency fee to the client as well as you. What is the payment protocol? Ask if they have an in-house accounting department or will you be responsible for doing your own invoicing.

5. Know if your agency is flexible and fair with taking a percentage from all the work you bring in. Some agents will want to take a cut of all the work you do regardless if they brought that client to you or not. Others will give the option of running the clients through them. While some will only take a cut if the rate was over a certain amount.

6. Comb over the any contract before signing it!!! There can be terms in “lawyer-speak” that will be a little grey in meaning. If the agency wants any sort of exclusivity with you, or wants you to be “locked in” with them for any length of time, then it’s always best to get an attorney to look over the contract first!!!

7. Trust your instincts!!! If something feels off to you…then walk away. It’s better to remain freelance then to have bad representation! Some agents might tell you they plan on bringing in new clients but really are more interested in only negotiating the rate, taking their cut, and coasting off your existing client base.

8. Ask yourself if having an agent is a necessity at this point in your career. If you are good at bringing in your own clients, and complicated contracts to comb over, then maybe having an agent isn’t what you need at this time in your career. Maybe having an intern or part time assistant would be a better alternative.

9. Take in consideration how many artists are on the agency’s roster. Will you befit by being in a pool of these artists or will you get lost in the mix.

10. Don’t go looking for an agent as a means to jumpstart your career. Know that most agencies are a career destination rather than a jumping off point. In the beginning, it might be better to just educate yourself on how to promote yourself rather than rely on someone else to do the work for you.

If you still feel your are ready and interested in getting an agent, then start out by finding a list of agents in the LA or New York 411. If you are a member of our network, you can log into your account a click on the agency tab on our site. That will give you a broad list of agents in your area.

If you are just starting your career and you don’t know where to begin, there are a few career workshops out there that are geared towards Hair & Makeup Artists: The Powder Group, Crystal Wright, and of course we have our own Career Coaching Workshop scheduled for March. But as always, do your due diligence and find out which career workshop is a good fit for you. No two workshops are alike. And of course, if you prefer more personalized attention, there are many personal career coaches our there that work with entertainment professionals such as Kristine Oller, Michelle Lee of HMAN, & Shawn Tolleson of Strategy Coaching.

Just remember it is your dedication to your craft that will ultimately push your career forward!

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February 7, 2014. Hair & Makeup Jobs, Hair & Makeup Marketing, Working as a Hair or Makeup Artist.

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