Agents and Expectations

Since assuming the role of a manager ten years ago, it is inevitable that I hear complaints about agents.  Some come from current clients, others from prospective clients, and many from never-to-be clients.

While certain complaints are valid, 90 percent of the perceived problems stem from the lack of understanding of an agent’s role and his or her priorities.  More troubling is that even when some of these “issues” are addressed, rarely does talent reexamine their point of view and adjust accordingly.  Instead, they sublimate their “unhappiness” until an opportunity arises and they can blame the agent for a different slight.

Here are the most common complaints and my responses to them:

“My Agent Doesn’t Get Me Work”

My first question here is does your agent get you opportunities i.e. auditions? If the answer is no or incredibly infrequently, then you need to first examine what an appropriate number of auditions per week for your age group is.  Keep in mind, that 75-80 percent of all auditions call for men or women in their 30s and early 40s.  If you are not in that age group and you are getting five or more auditions a week, you are doing exceptionally well.

“My Agent Is Not Making Me Money”

See above, but also remember that if you are not making money then neither is your agent.  I admit that’s a simplistic argument as agents may book other talent instead, but generally if a performer cannot capitalize on auditions, then they are likely taking opportunities from others who can.  Given the circumstances, talent who are not booking should feel very fortunate that they have agents who maintain faith in them despite the market signaling otherwise.

“My Agent Can’t Get Me Promo (or Trailers) Work”

Commercial talent especially have a completely false sense of how promos work, because they assume there are auditions.  Remember, there are tens of thousands of products and services being sold every year so there are plenty of commercials.  How many networks are there?  While there may be a couple hundred, over half already have a “voice-of,” so auditions are few and far between.  If talent is receiving an audition every couple of weeks, then their agent is likely doing a passable job.

After assessing the points above, if you are still unhappy, then you should look elsewhere—but remember, voice-over is a highly competitive world and rarely is there a difference in activity when moving… only different agents.

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