What is a talent manager?
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A talent manager, also known as a personal manager, is one who guides the career of artists in the entertainment business. The responsibility of the talent manager is to oversee the day to day business affairs of an artist; to advise and counsel talent about professional matters and personal decisions which may affect their career.
The roles and responsibilities of a manager vary slightly from industry to industry, as do the commissions to which the manager is entitled. Music managers duties differ from those who advise actors, writers, directors, etc.
The term "manager" is one of the most misunderstood terms in the field of modeling. New models, particularly on the Internet, don't understand the difference between a manager and an agent. That is easy to understand since there are many people on the Net who portray themselves as managers, when in fact, they are more closely operating in the form of an unlicensed agent.
What does a talent manager do?
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A talent manager is the personal mentor and guide for an individual model or talent. While management regulations vary from state to state, managers are among the sources that are intended to be packaging and training resources by such states as Florida. Florida does not wantthese services to be provided by agents. This keeps the support services competitive. There is no "if you do these things, I will promise you a job" with a legitimate talent manager. Managers are more or less the quarterback of the team (model/talent, manager, agents), setting a direction, telling the model/talent what they need to do to compete -- and giving them the bad news in terms of what they cannot do. Managers make a percentage of what the model or talent earns -- not for specific bookings but for their overall earnings generated in the entertainment arena. It is critical, however, that the talent manager only receive this percentage AFTER the model or talent has received payment for their work, not before.But a lot of the income that can be generated by a talent management enterprise includes workshop/seminar fees (acting, modeling, dance, stunts), photography (portfolios and head shots), printing services (composites, head shots, pr shots, enlargements), web services (auditions lists, online portfolio pages), resume services, and more. These services are not considered to be talent management, as a definition, but are important support functions for models and talent.
While an agent is one who...
- Acts in the model's stead
- Negotiates contracts for her
- Books the assignment on her behalf
- Does the billing
- Remits her monies upon payment from the client
This is an important function. Models will often have more than one agent representing them in different areas, such as commercial modeling, fashion modeling, and acting (normally theatrical or commercial). On the other hand, no model or actor should have more than one manager.
Talent will most often have a manager when they are new or are very experienced. For the new model or actor, the manager serves a very important function - to cultivate the model's career so that she can develop to the maximum. A good manager will help shape the direction a model or actor goes so as to generate the most revenue.
Career decisions are important to move a model into the niché that best fits their look and talents. Managers will help models understand contracts, compensation, billing practices, and safety. With a good manager, a model's time will be more productive because a competent manager will have experience in the market. He will know photographers, agents, art directors and clients and he can advise a model as to their references. More importantly, he will know which of these important resources might result in benefit to the model and which will be nonproductive to pursue.
A good manager understands makeup, wardrobe, posing and appearance. He will help a model develop the look that will be most effective in the markets she chooses to pursue.
While managers won't represent a model directly, as an agent will, they will help them network and will promote them to the industry. These activities will help a model get bookings they would otherwise not get had they been working on their own.
When a model's marketability develops sufficiently, a good manager will try to get the model signed with the best agents available in the markets they are pursuing. This promotion differs from that of an agent in the way a shotgun differs from a rifle. An agent has a particular market, such as commercial modeling. A commercial agent would submit a model for print advertising, for example, because that is their primary client base. Yet a model might also be interested in acting in feature films. A manager works with a broad sword rather than a scalpel. He promotes the model in all the areas in which she is interested, seeking representation by agents where that is possible.
A young model or actor will often start with a manager because agents are reluctant to sign untested talent. This is understandable for a variety of reasons. A new model or actor often doesn't know where it is they best fit, and they may simply saturate the market. That approach doesn't work for most agents that need to get their talent booked. Inexperienced models often lack the audition skills to get booked consistently. For an agent, this results in lost bookings because clients want to go with proven talent. A good manager will help a model overcome these problems by moving their career to a place where they are truly marketable.
Agents respect managers who perform the function they are intended to do. Indeed, agents work with competent managers because it is to their benefit to have the best talent available. Recently, a number of well-known agents have become managers because of the increased flexibility management has. Agents are restricted from production because of union contracts and have limitations on what they can do for their clients based on the covenants of their licenses. Many agents have found that they can be more effective as managers, and thus have made the switch. By removing the restrictions an agent has, a manager can often open doors for talent that they couldn't do as an agent.
Photographers, agents, art directors and casting directors benefit from managers because well-managed talent will perform better on the set. They will be more reliable and they will produce more consistently because they will be booked on the jobs for which they are best suited.
Truly understanding what a manager is and what he can do is the key to selecting a good one and advancing a model's career.