When you are looking for representation you have to think about it as your support system. It’s gonna be your team to success which means you should first understand who is doing what in order to put your personal crew together.
There is one fundamental thing you have to know about agents and managers: There is a difference!
People tend to mix up managers with agents. I have an agent and people are constantly asking me about my manager. Although they do similar things you should know the difference for various reasons:
1. It seems more professional if you know who is an agent and who a manager and what they are doing.
2. There are real differences you should be aware of when getting representation.
3. It’s also just a matter of respect towards both of these professions to just know what they are doing and why they shouldn’t be just put in one pot together.
Basically you can put it in one sentence: A manager plans your career and holds your hand in bad times, an agent gets you the jobs and doesn’t want to hear you sob about “this evil industry”!
Of course, as always, this sentence can’t stand alone. So let me explain for a sec:
In earlier days agents were the only ones who could sign contracts. Today everything has changed. There are so many agents and managers on the market and somehow managers are also able to close a deal for their client.
So let’s start at the beginning:
An agent works at a talent agency, which is licensed by the state and sometimes franchised by the union. Therefore he has the right to legally get his clients work. Agents are also the ones who negotiate their clients contracts, which is tremendously important for us because we as artists don’t have to bother negotiating our fees and work times.
Managers don’t have to be associated with a management company. They can work on their own and are actually not in the position of setting up auditions and closing or even negotiating a deal. However this is just the theory. In reality they are sending their clients on auditions and are somehow involved in the negotiation process.
One difference by law that still applies is that agents have to run his business from an office, managers can work basically anywhere. Another difference in conduct is that agents have approximately 125 t0 150 clients on their roster, whereas managers (the “better” ones) are just working with about 20 actors. This can be nice because they will take more time for you to prosper your career but this is just the numbers on the paper.
There is also a difference in compensation: While an agent is just allowed to take 5 – 10 % of your earnings theatrically, and 15% commercially, a manager can take from 10 – 20 % theatrically and commercially. Managers also mostly commission all of your earnings may it be from commercials, theatrically, voiceover or other work.
As you see there are some major differences even though in today’s world managers and agents are basically doing the same things for you. Whatever you feel suits you more, you should go after either a manager or an agent first. I wouldn’t suggest having both at the beginning because it would just mean 10% for the agent and 15%-20% for the manager off of your personal earnings, which is a lot when you are just starting out.
To find out which agent or manager suits you best check out my next article about “How to get an agent/manager”.