Both talent managers and talent agents try to find work for their clients, but each has a different manner of going about things.
For example, talent managers often work with a much smaller group of clients – often a couple dozen or less – when compared with talent agencies, which can have hundreds of clients. Agents primarily deal with casting directors to place actors in particular jobs. But talent managers also have relationships with producers and directors and others in the industry.
Talent managers, in short, help guide careers and can provide more personal attention and typically have a greater network at their disposal. Naturally, they also usually charge more.
For starters, agents are licensed by the state they work in and most commonly earn their money by negotiating deals for their clients. Typically, they also enter into a client agreement which is, in pertinent part, regulated by industry labor unions such as, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and, the Directors Guild of America (DGA). Through these regulated agreements, the commissions that agents charge their clients are legally bound to a prescribed percentage. Furthermore, it should be noted that agents may not serve as a producer on their clients’ projects.
On the other hand, managers are not commission-regulated, do not need a license to “manage” and, can charge their clients 15 percent or more. . . and often do.
The length of a contract with a talent manager can vary. Managers only get paid via commission, but a really good manager will actually cover various costs for his/her client due to their belief in their success and the manager’s ability to make things happen. It is also important to also choose someone who will actually take the time to help his or her client.
An actor with little or no experience may be willing to just sign up with any manager, but it is important to take a detailed look at the contract that is being offered. More than likely it will be a “standard” contract, but there is always an opportunity to seek adjustments.
Consider Before Signing
It is prudent to research a talent manager before signing a contract. Ask for references. Research court records to see if they have been involved in any lawsuits. And ask around the industry.
Before signing, it is also wise to have an entertainment attorney review the document. The money spent on the review could be well worth the cost of future problems.