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Archive for November 18th, 2009

Three Little Questions…

2009-11-18Where in the world am I today?: Miami -> St. Thomas, US. Virgin Islands

I got an email from an agent that I hadn’t worked for in ages recently about a Christmas Gig. The gig wasn’t offering very much in the way of a salary which got me to wondering if it was one of those scenarios that I’ve encountered in the past when I do a gig for an agreed upon fee, then find out that the agent actually charged the client twice what I was getting paid… On the one hand I agreed to do the gig for the prescribed fee, but on the other hand I feel like I’m being mis-represented to the end client if the agent is taking such a huge cut off the top before I see my fee.

So… Before agreeing to anything I asked about how the agent was now operating and in my experience it tends to breakdown into one of the following scenarios –

  1. The Agent gets a fee for the performer then tags a commission or finders fee on top of that for themselves?
  2. The Agent determines what the client can afford, pitches it to you as an act then takes a certain percentage commission out of the total payment.
  3. The Agent charges a fee to the client, pays the performer from this fee, but keeps all of the details confidential.

I always get a bit nervous about business dealings when the talent broker or agent operates under scenario #3. I feel like I’m flying blind which I always find a bit unsettling. In scenarios #1 and #2 all of the cards are laid out on the table. I see what transactions are taking place and agree to the terms of the transactions before I go into them, nothing is hidden.

I certainly don’t mind paying for the service that is provided by and agent because I am getting a direct benefit for the service that they are providing. They’re getting me a job that I didn’t get myself. They have established a relationship with that client, they should get paid for brokering the gig.

Some may argue (some agents anyway) that the same scenario is in place in the third scenario as well, but in the third scenario the details are kept from me in a way that feels borderline deceitful or at the very least somewhat dubious. If this is how the agent operates I’m quite happy to not work for them and thankfully I’m in a position where I can choose not to take gigs that fall into that sort of a scenario.

In the situation of this recently offered Christmas gig, the response that I got back from the agent was that they operate under the #2 scenario which is my personal favorite. The client pays the agent, the agent takes the commission and then I get the balance. Commissions rates vary from agent to agent and I’ve heard figures that range from a commission figure of 10% all the way up to about 25%. In this scenario the agent is taking a 20% commission which is on the higher side of things, but the gig itself isn’t a huge huge money gig so the 20% doesn’t amount to a huge salary for the agent and he’s gotta make a buck too, so I didn’t have a problem with it. That being said, knowing all of the details allowed me to feel good about how this deal transpired.

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