Agent I’ve heard of who has a horrific reputation and with whom I’ve never done business emails this morning at not even 9am.
“You don’t know me, we’ve never worked together but you’ll want to. I have an offer for you, February 2019 it pays X dollars.”
I reply ” the money you’re offering doesn’t cover the tax on my fee. It’s true, I don’t know you, and not without reason.”
I need a manager who can save me from myself.
A quick note about entertainment agents. Over the course of my career I’ve heard plenty of acts tell horror stories about how much they hate the agents they work for and how much percentage they take. Even Elvis got screwed by his agent. I get it, I’ve had some bad ones over the last 25 years myself. I often hear entertainers saying “agents make 25% to have a phone”. In the age of google they’re basically becoming obsolete.
Though, I’m not sure about that just yet.
End of the day, here’s the thing. The agent chooses YOU to pitch to their client. They have hundreds of acts to choose from. They opt to profile you. Once you’re sold to the client they handle everything, the good ones anyway. It’s all done for you. Venue organization, setting up and making sure the client follows your rider. Passing along the clients needs to you. Air fare, ground transportation, meals, a list of contacts and phone numbers in case anything happens along the way, oh and they pay you. Even if the client stiffs them for money, YOU always get paid. You’re telling me all that isn’t worth a 25% mark up of your fee? I often pay even more to agents, and I’m happy to do it. Again, this is for the good ones.
Case in point. My cruise agent in California is fantastic. Artist West Entertainment. Ron and Steve are the best kind of agents. Always have the backs of the performer while being sure that the client, in my case Holland America Cruise Line, is best served by myself and my show. My agent deals with everything. I NEVER have to talk to the people at the cruise line. The flights, shows, all the details are given to me before I leave, information packaged up in a tidy email. I literally have to take my ticket, show up at the airport and the machine they’ve organized does the rest. All I have to do is make sure when I perform I do an amazing job. I can do that everytime because I can focus on the show, nothing else. When there’s a problem with anything ( there NEVER is with HAL, but IF there were ) boom, agent help is a phone call away and one of them is always online to help or answer questions 24/7. I know this because I’ve used the service. All that is worth a commission.
The artists who gripe about agents really need to sit back and think about what you get for that service fee. In the world of corporate entertainment, it’s a service fee that’s marked up on top of yours. You’re not even paying for it.
Finally, try to remember that 80% of the time or more, when a corporate, cruise and general client calls an agency looking for entertainment for their event. They aren’t requesting YOU. That agent has to decide to sell you. Be grateful they do. As an entertainer all you want to do is work on your act. Agents free up your time to do that. So put your feet up, have another latte, spin the last Clash record on the turn table and write some material.
Good Night and Good Luck,