If you fantasise about becoming the next Ari Gold (Vincent Chase’s agent in Entourage), you’re in the right place! Get ready to find out about the professional life of a talent agent.
Agents are the absolute charmers who represent actors, television presenters, authors, scriptwriters, directors, producers, musicians, voice-over artists, singers, models and other professionals in the entertainment industry.
Acting as a liaison between talented individuals and casting directors, film studios, production companies, ad agencies and photographers, agents help their clients to build a successful career in the entertainment industry.
Essentially, talent agents use their knowledge and network of contacts to promote the talented people on their client roster to different film studios, record labels, production companies, theatre companies and other organisations in the entertainment industry. They also negotiate financial deals and contract terms on behalf of their clients.
Agents put in the legwork to make things happen: arranging auditions, submitting headshots, show reels, demos, comp cards and portfolios, and generally spending time on the phone and attending meetings to strike deals and promote their clients to potential employers.
Networking is a huge part of an agent’s job, which means attending swanky parties and other events. Every job has its perks!
Agents also spend a lot of time scouting for fresh talent, which means attending gigs, going to shows and tracking down new, exciting performers.
Finally, agents act as mentors to their clients, offering advice and guidance on decisions that will potentially change their career, e.g. taking certain jobs or not.
When offering advice like this, agents must be honest and make sure that the credibility and reputation of the artist is taken into account, even when there is the potential for massive financial gain.
Salary & benefits
Talent agents tend to earn a basic salary in the range of £15,000 to £35,000 per annum. However, talent agents also earn commission for finding their clients work. Typically, agents receive around 10% of what the client is paid.
If you work as a freelance agent, you will get the entirety of this payment. However, if you work for an established agency, your company will get 10% and you will receive a percentage of the commission money based on your level of experience and responsibility.
Talent agents tend to work long and unsociable hours. Agents thrive on networking opportunities. Therefore, you may be required to schmooze with potential clients in the evenings and at weekends.
You may also be required to travel, both domestically and internationally, on a regular basis.
There are no specific academic requirements for entry into this industry. However, it may help if you have an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject such as PR, marketing, business studies, management studies, law, performing arts or economics.
Most people get their foot in the door via an internship and then by working as an agent’s assistant.
Training & progression
The majority of your training will be done on-the-job, and it’s likely that you will be dropped in at the deep end. You will either sink or swim.
If you are able to work with a rising star, it can be a quick route to the top; if not, you will need to prove you have consistently good judgment in the clients you choose and you must provide a steady stream of work for them.
Artist representation and management is full of confident people who have a mastery of communication in all forms. If you can understand the needs of your clients and you have top notch communication skills you will be in a great position to go far in this line of work.
Many successful agents go freelance once they have gained sufficient experience and have established a long list of industry contacts. You might even start your own talent agency and employ other agents to work for you.