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What is the difference between a talent agent and a manager?

Acting Tips for Aspiring Actors

Talent agents and managers are both professionals in the entertainment industry who work with performers to help advance their careers, but there are some important differences between the two:

1. Representation: Talent agents represent performers in specific areas, such as film, television, or theater. They work to secure auditions and negotiate contracts on behalf of their clients. Managers, on the other hand, provide more comprehensive career guidance generally covering all of these areas and may work with performers in a wider range of additional areas, such as public relations, branding, strategy, career support, building a team and marketing.

2. Licensing: Talent agents must be licensed by the state and are subject to certain regulations and guidelines. Managers are not required to be licensed and are not subject to the same regulations.

3. Commission: Both talent agents and managers typically operate on a commission basis, earning a percentage of their clients' earnings for work they secure on their behalf. For talent agents, the standard commission rates are 10% for union actors' theatrical earnings and 20% for their commercial/print earnings. Non-union actors with an agent are usually offered similar rates, though non-union percentages may be higher due to the competitive nature of these jobs, which generally pay less than union jobs. Since most actors aim to join the union for access to prominent roles, agents often offer similar percentages to help actors achieve this milestone. In contrast, managers are not regulated by the State and can charge anywhere from 0% to 100% in commission. The industry standard for managers is typically 15% across the board, but this percentage can vary based on factors such as a manager's expertise, offerings, and company setup.

4. Relationships: Talent agents typically have established relationships with casting directors, producers, and other industry professionals, and they use these relationships to secure work for their clients. Managers focus more on developing long-term relationships with their clients and helping them achieve their career goals over time. Managers can also play a crucial role in developing an actor's team over time. This includes making introductions to new agents, establishing casting connections, arranging meetings with directors and producers, and implementing strategic approaches to enhance the actor's visibility and networking opportunities.

Overall, talent agents and managers both play important roles in the entertainment industry, but they approach their work from different perspectives. It's important for performers to understand the differences between the two and to choose representation that best suits their needs and goals.

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