This article was written to help beginner, and intermediate hosts, personalities, experts, influencers, & entertainers find their path in the industry. It's full of advice, facts, opinions, and towards the end, I even provide a list of talent agencies and managers. Be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions or contact me through my website Here!
Shannon O’Dowd is an on-camera host, commercial spokesperson, & media training/on-camera instructor. Shannon has been working on both sides of the camera for well over a decade.
How do you get representation? Many artists find themselves asking this question. It's a question that comes up time and time again. You may be thinking I don't need a talent manager. I need an agent! That's right, you do need an agent. But more importantly, you need someone in your corner, and you need to understand the difference between a talent manager and an agent.
Talent managers are more likely to take a chance on you. They can also help guide you towards good agent relationships and can be helpful when it comes to finding you work.
Talent managers are more likely to take on people who are just starting out. They call this being "in development," and talent managers might take on client's that agents pass over. There are a ton of agencies and talent managers, but finding the perfect fit can be tricky. So what are some steps you can take?
Research - Do the work. Yes, this means diving onto social media platforms and websites. There are so many agencies available and a whole slew of talent managers out there. Researching their current clientele, especially on IMDB, can help you better understand what kind of people they represent. Highlight those that best align with your desired medium. Make sure they resonate with the type of work you are interested in. Some managers list the types of clients they are interested in. So look out for information like that.
Network - A lot of the time, agents will only take meetings through a direct referral. A referral that a lot of managers can provide. Approaching a talent manager or other people in your network can be a great way to find or expand your representation.
Questions - A good manager or agent wants to understand your goals. They will want to know some backstory on you. Giving a brief history can help them see all the progress you have made and where you want to go. Thinking about this in advance will better set you up for a more successful meeting when discussing possible representation. What are you doing to achieve your goals? Where do you see yourself in the future? How are you being received? Don't get put on the spot when it's your moment to shine.
Headshot/Resume - Some managers prefer to be emailed, and some want hard copies when submitting for representation. Either way, make sure the manager or agent is open to receiving the information you are giving them. Introduce yourself and be sure to follow their submission policy directly. Submit a cover letter, headshot, and resume and explain to them why you want to work with them. Don't be shy. They should get the feeling that you are enthusiastic and optimistic about your career. You should have a clear outline of your strengths, past bookings, training, and the kinds of projects you are interested in.
Sizzle Reel or Demo Reel - People who go above and beyond always stand out. A "sizzle" or demo reel is a short piece of video footage (1-2 minutes) demonstrating the quality and diversity of your work. For a hosting reel, be sure to include a stand-up, co-hosted piece, interview section (sit down, man on the street, red carpet, etc.), and a demonstration piece. Reels are something I know quite a bit about because it's a service I provide to people I coach in the hosting, expert, influencer sphere. If you are interested in increasing your confidence and comfortability on-camera, be sure to click here and explore some of the materials I have put together. If you have any questions, I'm happy to assist.
What’s the difference? Talent Managers vs. Agents
Agents and managers have very similar but different roles.
An agent's main job is to submit you for opportunities that are made available to them, either through casting sites or through being directly contacted by a client, ad agency, network, or studio. Developing, packaging, and finding work for you is not usually their sphere. Their job, for the most part, is to submit and sometimes pitch you for existing opportunities.
A talent manager has more of an aerial view of what is happening in your life. They typically have fewer clients so they can spend more time asking questions and understanding your goals. They're able to pitch opportunities that really represent and reflect you.
If they understand your goals, they can help find where you shine best in the market and expand. That means more strategy sessions and more in-depth conversations. They might have a working relationship with your PR representative, host coach, or agent.
How much do talent managers and agents charge? There is no upfront fee, and most people in the industry won't work with talent managers or agents if there is one (nor should you!). Generally, agents charge 10-20% whereas talent managers charge 15%. There's a reason for this, and I explain it below.
Agents - Agents are franchised by the state. Meaning they operate under state laws and can only take 10% and only after you book a job (20% if the job is non-union). Typically you have a 90 day out clause if they don't book you work. Which means after 90 days if you still don't have a gig you can leave the contract.
Talent Managers - Managers are not legally licensed to negotiate contracts on your behalf the way agents are. Managers make their own terms and agreements. That don't even legally have to have an office. You may or may not have a contract. So hiring someone, you can trust, and doing your homework is essential.
Is an agent better than a manager?
Do you want the short answer? No. Talent managers and agents have entirely different jobs. Agents are hyper-focused on getting you to work. They thrive on getting you to auditions. Which is great! But you should consider getting someone in your corner that can provide a more personal touch. Someone who can competently manage you.
Getting an agent isn't the most natural thing in the world. Searching for representation can bring on emotions like anxiety, frustration, and doubt. You have to schedule meetings, meet with people, and you may hear the word "No." Maybe you and your current manager had a falling out. This is just a reality that sometimes happens in business relationships. It's especially hard since you've already built that relationship. So reaching out and finding new representation is now a challenge you have to face head-on. Don't get discouraged. When I hear the word NO, I just think Next Opportunity.
No, but really. I eat, sleep, and breath on-camera training and coaching. I Literally wrote the book on how to prepare and embellish your on-camera performance. Finding talent managers and eventually agents means focusing on building out your resume, headshots, and sizzle reel. Having on-camera training can get you ready for the audition. I go above and beyond for my clients and teach up and coming professionals and established talent all over the Los Angeles area. Reach out! I want to continue to build a thriving community of entertainers.
Finding representation is NOT the most enjoyable part of the business, but it is a necessary one. Before you pack your bags and head back to your hometown, take this into consideration.
Maybe you shouldn't be looking for an agent. Not yet, anyway. Focus on building your body of work, self-submitting, utilizing your networking skills, and honing your craft. Once you are bursting with confidence from all the recent bookings you've had, how good your materials are, and all hard work and time you put in your network, you might be ready. Agents will likely start to notice. The worst thing you can do as talent is to be desperate for representation. If you are, it may be a sign you are not ready. It's a business relationship, and they should want you JUST as much as you want them.
So which one do you hire? A talent manager or an agent. The answer is most likely both. Just know that it could mean a staggering 35% off the top. I would argue that finding a team of people the most directly aligns with you is the most crucial factor when it comes to hiring anyone. Who are the people that most inspire you? What kind of people do you want to work with? Let me know in the comments below! THANKS!
Here’s A Short List Of Talent Agencies With Hosting Divisions In LA
Abrams Artists : abramsartists.com
Agency for the Performing Arts: apa-agency.com/ AKA Talent Agency: akatalent.com Bobby Ball Talent Agency: bbatalent.com Buchwald Agency: buchwald.com CAA: caa.com CMEG (Management Company): cmeg.com Commercial Talent: commercialtalentagency.com
Gersh: gersh.com ICM: icmpartners.com Innovative Artists: innovativeartists.com Kaplan Stahler: kaplanstahler.com Ken Lindner and Associates: kenlindner.com Napoli Management Group: tvtalent.com NTA Talent Agency: ntatalent.com Paradigm: paradigmagency.com SBV Talent: sbvtalent.com Stone Manners: smsagency.com Synergy Management: synergytalent.net