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Topic: Finding Agents
Message: Posted by: Amazing Magic Co (Jun 8, 2013 10:14AM)
I've never used an agent before and was interested in how I might identify some in my area? I have worked with other magic colleagues in my area covering some gigs and have no problem sharing the fee so long as it comfortably covers us both. I am curious and thought this might be worth exploring ... Any suggestions are appreciated.

Thanks!
Dan.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 8, 2013 12:40PM)
None of us knows enough about you personally to help guide you at all in reality.

A simple Google search of your area or where you want to work will help you find agencies. Whether you are a fit or not is entirely up to them and to you.

Without knowing what level your show is at, what sort of environment you wish to work and so forth, there is no real way to answer your question in a meaningful way unfortunately.
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Jun 8, 2013 02:55PM)
Dan -
Before you approach an agent, there is a lot to consider. So many variety acts have the wrong impression when it comes to working with agents. That is why I sat down and interviewed agent Terry Gehman for Entertainment Experts. Terry specializes in fairs and festivals with some small corporate dates. His advice however applies to every market on some level. You can see clips of the interviews at:
http://entertainment-experts.com/an-agents-goal/ (which covers working with talent agents)
http://entertainment-experts.com/exclusive-representation/
http://entertainment-experts.com/sometimes-clients-learn-the-hard-way/
and on YouTube at:
http://youtu.be/iWPC7RPIn6c

There will be more clips released - but these should give you things to think about.

As for finding agencies - Google is your friend. Keep in mind, agents get tons of submissions and emails every day from acts looking for work. Your contact needs to be respectful of their time and stand out.

Tom
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 8, 2013 04:32PM)
Also keep in mind you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Posted: Jun 8, 2013 8:39pm
Another interesting thing is generally once they will need you...you probably won't need them.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Jun 8, 2013 09:32PM)
Dan
Are you looking for someone to set up with a six month coast to coast college tour, or are you simply looking for more paying jobs locally? They are two totally different questions.

Your local party planner is not the same as the William Morris agency.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Jun 9, 2013 07:01AM)
Remember that the most important thing an agent has to offer is his contacts, not yours! The best of agents can get about any act they want. Successful agents stick with the talent buyers, not the talent.

My lecture at the Cavalcade of Magic was about personal managers, agents, promoters and talent buyers. Perhaps you can catch the lecture sometime.

I certainly recommend having a personal manager who represents you to agents and talent buyers. (That comes from 55 years in the professional entertainment industry plus having owned American Artists Enterprises a personal management and booking agency.)

What do you really know about professional entertainment managers, booking agents, talent buyers and promoters from experience? Who do you know that really does?
Message: Posted by: Amazing Magic Co (Jun 9, 2013 08:28AM)
I mostly book birthdays, schools and family/corporate events and looking to stay relatively local. I have no interest in a world tour nor do I have aspirations to be the next Copperfield. I'm mostly looking to stay busy and pick up some extra gigs.

Dan.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jun 9, 2013 10:22AM)
Amazing Magic Co,

Find your local party planning agents/planners. Google search in your area and look in family magazines etc.
Also, contact the local country clubs, preschools, elementary schools, libraries and venues that host kids parties. Introduce them with your services and keep in contact with them about 3-6 times a year by fax, mailing and brief phone calls.
Any special events you see around town contact them. They can use you the following year maybe, plus usually the board of directors uses entertainment for other programs that they might plan for the city/public.

Best luck....
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Jun 10, 2013 09:43AM)
I'm not sure that AN agent is the way to go. There's a significant difference between agents and personal managers. I think you may be talking about a personal manager -- someone who has the task of specifically getting you work...and getting you to and from the show. They handle far fewer clients but take a bigger chunk of the earnings...which is understandable.

Most agents handle a huge raft of acts. They'll have a number of variety performers (cause that's what we are to them) on their roster. It's true that they can turn work your way -- but the change may not be as significant as you think. I work with six agents and, while they throw work my way (and I appreciate it), most of my bookings still come through me, my contacts or my repeat clients.

You need to keep yourself in the agent's face all the time to remind them you're out there. This isn't a bad thing and agents are a worthwhile source of work -- but it's more important to work your local market first. There's some great advice here.

David
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 10, 2013 12:05PM)
Finding an agent is a process better thought of in terms of what you can do for them as opposed to what you think they can do for you.

Maybe find one who does not have any magicians under their flag. The more you can do for them, the more they will do for you.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jun 10, 2013 01:34PM)
[quote]
You need to keep yourself in the agent's face all the time to remind them you're out there. This isn't a bad thing and agents are a worthwhile source of work -- but it's more important to work your local market first. There's some great advice here.

David
[/quote]
David offers some wise advice, but there is also another side of the coin very rarely talked about with regard to agents and agencies.

Yes, it is important to "keep and stay in front of an agent", I agree, but be careful with this as there is such a thing as doing so too much. To offer an example, one of my agencies books magicians pretty regularly since the late 70's. Like most agencies we have many on our roster (for a variety of reasons), but have our preferred favorites that are mostly used, again for a variety of reasons.

One of these preferred acts after working with us for maybe 15 years, all of a sudden in the late 80's or early 90's started to get into direct mailing/marketing. I've always suspected he took a Dee or Kennedy course that preaches doing regular and continuous mailing to "stay in front of them". All of a sudden it seemed like every week (more than likely once or twice a month) we were getting bombarded with promo, newsletters, post cards, ideas and tip sheets of how to use his act and shows, etc.

It became too much. Too overbearing, to repetitive. It got to the point where after fifteen years most of my agents as well as myself had had enough. We called him and asked his stop and to be removed from his mailing and marketing list. We also felt insulted. We were well aware of him, we know his various acts, and we most certainly didn't need his "tips & advice" on how best to book his acts. He understood.

However the mailings (thank gosh it was before e-mail) continued. I'm guessing he, through his marketing gurus", had several mailing lists for several different purposes and probably used auto-responders, but for whatever reason they continued. About a month later we dropped him from our roster permanently. He probably booked $12-15,000 of booking from us per year, for about 15 years. He ruined it for himself and lost a solid stream of income.

Truth be told, it created an opportunity for several other magician's who while on our roster hadn't been booked as much, as they were too similar to this guy, but after dropping him, we turned to them and didn't miss a beat in our bookings.

So the point is yes, stay in front of them, but know and understand limits. Agencies get bombarded with promo on a daily basis. Know what is proper, professional and what is overbearing and too much. If they are not responding to you after a significant period of time, there is more than likely a reason.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Jun 10, 2013 04:01PM)
If you want to stay local go to your local yellow pages and call every agent in your local entertainment section that doesn't offer female companionship, or DJ's everybody else deserves a phone call, a promo package, and you have begun to contact your local agents.

Do a google search for entertainment agencies in your area code. Call and send a promo package to all of them unless they provide DJ's or female companionship.

Check with other performers that you meet at gigs, give them a card ask them who they use.

Circulate, mingle, schmooze, network, carry business cards everywhere you go.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jun 10, 2013 04:07PM)
Al I agree with you, but I would also recommend getting to know local Dj's too! They can refer you out. They often get lots of calls and asked about other acts.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Jun 11, 2013 09:28AM)
Good things come to those who wait providing they work like hell while they are waiting.
Message: Posted by: Jesse Lewis (Jun 11, 2013 11:12AM)
So Mindpro what do you personally thinkn is an appropriate amount of contact? Schedule updates once per month? once per year? I have agents that have actually asked for weekly updates and others that would rather just call. It is a very difficult nut to crack what is just right.
Jesse
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 11, 2013 12:31PM)
Find itnout from each one personally. For me the less contact the better.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jun 11, 2013 01:43PM)
Exactly. Especially if it is someone you already have a relationship with. Giving your avails to an agent you are already listed with is much different than sending your promotional info to an agency or agent unsolicited. Most agencies have a specific time, period or process in which they prefer to accept promotional materials for consideration. Follow these guidelines or procedures. If we receive materials other than as we have specified on our web site, it tells us you haven't done your homework and even learned our submission process or done your due diligence, but rather we are simply receiving something from a mass mailing/emailing.

Also we don't want artists or acts that are on every other agency's roster (especially for local or regional acts). This comes greatly into play as well. There is much more to working with an agency than meets the eye, and most performers fail in this area.

While I can't answer for each agency, our personal preference is once every six months or perhaps three times a year. At absolute most quarterly, but even that is pushing it. It also depends on what you are sending or submitting - this makes a huge difference too. Also one of the greatest things we see CONSISTENTLY along with not adhering to our submission process, is entertainers that do not look like their photos. I can not tell you how many times we will arrange for a meeting with an entertainer, model or other artist, and when they arrive they look nothing like therr photos. They've gained weight, aged, changed their look, image or style. When we submit your materials to our client, they expect it to be an exact, most recent representation of yourself.

This is why I've said repeatedly here, your marketing efforts (when it comes to agencies) has little or nothing to do with youtube videos, social media web sites, etc. When we get an email asking or directing us to an entertainers web site...it goes right into the garbage. We are not in the business of chasing after and visiting an performer's web site. Unless you have an "agency web site" we do not go to web sites to see someones promotional materials. If we went to everyone's site that send us materials we'd be doing this 8 hours per day. Plus this actually works against you as most performers web sites are not created, designed or appropriate for agents or agencies. Most entertainers design their web sites poorly, unprofessionally and from their own perspective, often what we call "ego-based" web sites, but not with what an agency needs or requires for representation. Many things popular gurus teach you about your site works against you when pertaining to agencies.

I hope this helps.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 11, 2013 04:12PM)
I tell you what can be too much for me. I don't like feeling like I am on a list. Drives me nuts. I once got an update from an act telling me he was in Cancun. Onky problem was I sent him to Cancun. To me it felt disingenuous.

So that is the line with me personally. That is the exact way to deal with me. Now the next guy kight be 180 degrees opposite.

I don't want constant or even weekly updates from 100 different acts plus people wanting to be considered. Think just for a moment how much time that alone is.

So don't think hard and fast rules apply. They don't.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jun 11, 2013 05:35PM)
Also,

There are different type of personalities of agents.
I find that agents that are not and were not entertainers are the best ones to work with.
They are kind, they return calls and they encourage receiving promo packets and they often meet with you once-twice a year for lunch to catch up. Plus, when you send something to their office they notify you receipt of such. Also, a good agent meets you or sends someone to the event to introduce you to the client and gets the show going. :)

Entertainers that are agents, I found that they tend to not respond to emails, phone calls and complain about receiving promo packets.
I am sure there are a few exception, just sharing my experience.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jun 11, 2013 05:58PM)
I have found just the opposite, but it's a matter of personal preference and experience. One of the things I hear continuously from many of the artists and acts we've rep'd is that they love dealing with an agent that is an entertainer or has an performer background as they tend to think from the artists perspective and better understand the artist's needs and means of execution.

In my personal experience with the many agencies and promoters around the country that I'm listed with or have worked with, I find the very same to be true as well.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jun 11, 2013 07:05PM)
Mindpro, now if they are an ex entertainer that once played for a while, yes usually its fine, but the ones that are active or semi active are the ones I speak of in my experience.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Jun 11, 2013 09:40PM)
Don't contact agents and sit on your butt waiting for your phone to ring. If you want local gigs make contact with all the local agents then send post cards to cub scout packs, day care centers, parks commissioners, municipal authorities, Summer camps, over 55 housing, shopping malls. Place an ad in a local parents news paper. Keep a pencil and paper by your phone, and answer it on the first or second ring.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 11, 2013 10:01PM)
I hear all the time from our guys how great it is having a performers perspective working for them.

Often I do not return ohone calls or emails. It has nothing to do with being a performer. It is sime time management. If you return every ohone call and every email is answered and every promo packet is reviewed you have no time to do your job. I know what I am looking for and I know what will and will not work.

If I spend 10 minutes a day talking to the 30 people every day just wanting to say whatever that is 5 hours out of my day. Now spend some more time with email and it is 6 1/2 hours gone. Wasted on things I know full well are not productive. Now add to this going over a mountain of promo stuff. Oh and occasional update email and it can be all day and you have not accomplished a thing.

I have found performers who complain about this just do not understand how things like this add up. Just my experience. As an agent the job is not to assuage an ego. It is to get them work.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jun 11, 2013 10:34PM)
DannyDoyle,

Big agency or very busy agency same to create time management for such. They send out letters, emails and phone calls.

Just my experience, maybe some people don't have the man power for such, but my experience has been very well with main-stream agency.
Also, when they are interest in working with you, they send a letter of proposal outlining the situation and asking you to accept the job.

They even send a rep out to meet you prior to the performance and conference call you in with the client etc.

But, Al did mention a few good points on getting work for the type of gigs the original poster is interested in.

Posted: Jun 11, 2013 11:40pm
Here an example of an older letter from an agent, when we submitted stuff.

Hi Curtis,

Many thanks for the message and including all your links.

I did forward your message to xxx, the Owner and Director of xxx Entertainment (xxx).

Xxxx, who also is a Musical/Entertainment Director for xxxxx Cruises, is currently opening up the last of their 5 new "Solstice Class" ships and will be returning to the UK on the 13th January.

He will be in touch personally on his return.

For future reference, I would also like to advise you of our email address: xxxx

I would like to take this opportunity in wishing you a very Happy New Year and look forward to speaking with you again in due course.

Best Wishes
Sxxxx
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jun 11, 2013 11:24PM)
[quote]
On 2013-06-11 22:40, Al Angello wrote:
Don't contact agents and sit on your butt waiting for your phone to ring. If you want local gigs make contact with all the local agents then send post cards to cub scout packs, day care centers, parks commissioners, municipal authorities, Summer camps, over 55 housing, shopping malls. Place an ad in a local parents news paper. Keep a pencil and paper by your phone, and answer it on the first or second ring.
[/quote]

Right on AL!
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 12, 2013 07:46AM)
So it is a form letter. Good.

A far cry from talking with every person who wants a little bit of your time.

Hut really big companies may very well work that way. Not being one and not working for one I have no idea. The vast majority of agents or planners or whatever you call them are not big at all.

Fantastic if this is your experience. Performers think they are the center of the universe. If it is more important to you to have someone make you feel that way cool. Then you find an agency willing to take the time and money to do so. If you don't care and having someone who spends that time working for you instead is ok then you go with that.

This has nothing to do with anyone having been a performer and everything to do with how people choose to run a business. Work with some college agents and cruise ship agents. They flat out tell you not to call and ask about your promo. Some college and comedy club agents I know have everyone check in on Mondays to make sure they are where they need to be. Everyone has a method that works for THEM. If a performer needs their ego stroked differently they go where that can be done.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jun 12, 2013 08:49AM)
Danny the above letter doesn't seem to be a form letter. I did xxx the names and emails etc out myself. But it seems to tailored to the current situation.
I have many letters responses from agents and many letters of request for booking from agents/clients.

I don't think It is about having an ego stroke, it is about the proper and polite way of doing business. I think entertainers have been rejected so much my improper agencies/clients. They think it is the norm to conduct business in that lines. So when they start agencies it rubs off.

Again, you response just outlines why there is a huge difference between entertainers running an agency and a person who has created an agency or worked as an agent as a career path.


An example of a letter of request from a marketing company...

Hello!

My name is Ria and I work for an event marketing company in New York City. We’re interested in hiring Curtis Lovell for a one day PR stunt for one of our clients in Times Square. Unfortunately, I can’t reveal who the client is at this point, but I’m hoping you can provide me with the cost and details of hiring him for such an event.

Please feel free to check out our company online. Hope to hear from you soon!

Thanks,
Ria

----------------------------------------
Ria xxx
Account Coordinator
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 12, 2013 09:41AM)
No curtis it shows no such thing. It really shows how little you know about how to run MY business. See I would rather take the money it costs to stroke every ego and give it to the peoe we work with. I would rather spend time finding guys more work than trying to stroke the ego of people we will never use.

See as a performer you don't you derstand the concept that I know my particular market far better than you. I know exactly what is needed. Answering every phone call and email is time consuming and pointless. If your particular act (Mind you I am not saying you specifically but you generally here.)does not fit for what is needed then it is less than worthless to me. To another person it is worth its weight in gold. Both are right.

Spending time to talk with every act is just not possible. It has nothing to do with being a performer. It has to do with us being in a VERY specialised market and knowimg what is needed specifically. You can't grasp that because you simpmy do not umderstand what we do specifically. It is not about being a performer.

Plus do you think every person who submits anything should get a response? If you say yes that pre supposes that everyone who submits is able to do the job equal. You know that is not true. So there is a line. You equate that line with a performer being in charge. In reality it is not.

Plus if you spend all that time talking with performers when do you talk to clients?

Posted: Jun 12, 2013 10:44am
You show a letter from a PR company looking to hire you.

You are comparing apples and hand grenades.

You have your experience. Good for you. It isn't anywhere near universal.

It is important when looking to work with people as clients or agents that you know how to work with them. Making the mistake of thinking there is a norm or any relevance from one to another can be costly.

If you need to be constantly updated or need letters or whatever then you work with people who provide that for you. But do not expect that from every person you deal with. Remember unfortunately there are more performers than there are guys providing good work. It is a buyers market. The job will get done. Thatis the bottom line.

There are limits as to how you should allow people to deal with you. But be careful where and when you draw that line. If an agent is talking to you he is not talking to clients to find you work. He is not making you money by talking to you. Ever.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jun 12, 2013 10:14AM)
I don't see it stroking an ego. It is not about having an ego or stroking an ego. It is how business is ran in the real world. If I send a letter to any company, they reply back. If I receive a letter, I reply back.
You may have a system that works for you and I really don't know too much about you or your company except what you just stated in this thread. I think it is about a working relationship.

I once went to a magic conference, where a guy use to be a magician and he started his agency, he said that if you don't send him a letter or a phone call before prior to sending a promo packet, he throws it straight into the trash. I find that a bit odd. I notice other similar things with agencies ran by entertainers. Just my viewpoint. I was not saying anything about you directly. Although you verified my point with a few of your remarks.

I even had an agent who sent me a letter stating, that I wasn't ready for their company, however here are a few things to work on and urged me to resubmit. This was many years ago. Now, she has sent me all around the world and it is a win - win situation for all parties.

I know of a few companies just sends postcards stating that they have received such info, but more often I get personal letters and phone calls. I even got a phone call from one agent in SD who merged her company with a large agency and production company and said, I need to come down for lunch and meet the entire new team of people. Although, I have been working with her for 6 years.
I just don't get the agencies that are cattle call companies. I know a few like that. One in Vegas, the owner always cattle calls her performers in to auditions for each MAJOR client and then she offers you a job, then she states well xxx will do it for this amount. Not all agents are good and bad. I think it is best for an entertainer to main stream and find what works best for them.

Also, we need agents and agents needs us. There are a few venues or clients that will only work through an agent to book you. I have met some people at events or received calls asking if I would work through their agent. So many different situations and personalities in this world.

Again, this is not a personal attack on your company Danny, because I don't even know who you really are at this point except what you have revealed on threads... Just my experiences.

Cheers
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 12, 2013 10:24AM)
You say it is not an attack yet you attack. Yes you are right. You have no clue what we really do.

If you don't need agents don't use them. In many venues you have no choice.

In the end the burdon is to satisfy the client. Personally I would rather spend my time having lunch with them and returning their phone calls. You use terms lime the real world as if there is one way things are done. I guess I will live in my own not so real world.

Whatever works for you go for it.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jun 12, 2013 10:39AM)
Please note, I never brought you into this conversation, you assumed I was speaking about you. I didn't know you were an "agent." I also, said my experience with agency ran by entertainers. I didn't proclaim that all were a pain. lol
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 12, 2013 10:48AM)
Curtis you have sent me a PM before asking if we used your type of act. Odd how you would not know.

Mindpro runs one as well.

You speak in generalities about the real world and such.

As I said earlier people need to find out how to deal with people as people. Not in sweeping generalities.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jun 12, 2013 10:52AM)
Yes but, I thought you worked for the hotel(s), didn't know you were an agent. That was about 5-6 years ago. Wow time flys!
[quote]
On 2013-06-12 10:41, Dannydoyle wrote:

Plus if you spend all that time talking with performers when do you talk to clients?
[/quote]
But, you spend lots of time on the Café which are entertainers and you have over 14k of posts! lol....
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 12, 2013 11:26AM)
And done.

Thank you for showing all you are interested in are attacks. Now we all can see it.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jun 12, 2013 11:43AM)
I said:
[quote]
On 2013-06-11 18:35, magicofCurtis wrote:
There are different type of personalities of agents.
I find that agents that are not and were not entertainers are the best ones to work with.
They are kind, they return calls and they encourage receiving promo packets and they often meet with you once-twice a year for lunch to catch up. Plus, when you send something to their office they notify you receipt of such. Also, a good agent meets you or sends someone to the event to introduce you to the client and gets the show going. :)

Entertainers that are agents, I found that they tend to not respond to emails, phone calls and complain about receiving promo packets.
I am sure there are a few exception, just sharing my experience.
[/quote]
You said:
[quote]
On 2013-06-11 23:01, Dannydoyle wrote:

Often I do not return ohone calls or emails. It has nothing to do with being a performer. It is sime time management. If you return every ohone call and every email is answered and every promo packet is reviewed you have no time to do your job. I know what I am looking for and I know what will and will not work.

I have found performers who complain about this just do not understand how things like this add up. Just my experience. As an agent the job is not to assuage an ego. It is to get them work.
[/quote]
And I showed a letter from an agent that replies that is not an entertainer and I showed a letter from a PR company. (I have many others too)

See the difference between the two?
Not saying one is bad or one is better, but I prefer the non-entertainer agents/companies.

So again,
I find that agents that are not and were not entertainers are the best ones to work with.
[quote]
On 2013-06-12 10:44, Dannydoyle wrote:

Remember unfortunately there are more performers than there are guys providing good work. It is a buyers market. The job will get done. Thatis the bottom line.
[/quote]
Non- entertainer agencies that I have worked with, does not see it this way. If they see a quality act that fits within the needs of their client they want, that's the act for their client.
Agents view their entertainers as clients as well! Because once a good act leaves an agent because of silliness the agent may no longer have access to them and when a client wants that act.... They could lose the sale!...

Danny
Its America, feel free to run your company anyway you wish,

But, I was simply pointing out the difference in THE AGENTS EGO! :banana: and you pointed out the difference in entertainers EGO! Although, I don't think its ego what you stated, but more lines of proper business practices.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jun 12, 2013 09:21PM)
Man, I'm away for a day or two and all hell breaks loose. This just goes to show the many, many misconceptions about agents and agencies. Most entertainers have little or no working knowledge of working with agencies and the inner workings of agencies. I always get a kick out of those that give advice here, as much of it is some if the poorest professional advice in on the entire Café.

Many seem to think because they work with one or two local agencies that they have a working knowledge of agents and agencies, they don't. There are many things insider's know that are NEVER discussed here or in most other performer boards. There are local agencies that operate much differently than regional, national and international agencies. Agencies that book solely or mostly kids and family entertainment operate as a local with minimal true agency standards of operations.

The misinformation from performers thinking they understand this is crazy. I always get a kick out of the sending or soliciting to agencies. It's so one dimensional from the performers perspective (that they think they know, from an artist or ego-based perspective, and RARELY ever from the agencies true perspectives). For example to listen to everyone here you must solicit or submit to agencies (often and repeatedly, have a web site and social media, etc.). This is probably in reality only the third typical and possible way agencies get acts and artists on their roster. The #1 and #2 ways probably make up 85-90% of an agencies roster, and the submissions making up only 5-10%. It's crazy as those that think they know here, would lead you to believe that submitting and contacting agencies is the main way to do so.

Curtis can think what he wants based on his own experience, but just because it has been his experience in no way makes it the standard, norm or typical. It's not. I have had the extremely rare and unique position to work directly with over 150 agencies worldwide, in a capacity which I am almost certain is unlike any single other member anywhere on this board. I've had a very rare opportunity that I've only seen exist maybe three or four times in 38 years. From this unique experience, I can tell you what is true insider's insight and what is performers misconceptions. Curtis is way off based on the majority of these agencies. Most of his perspective is actually opposite from the actual normal workings of these agencies. But if it works for him, that is really great.

My concern is those like the OP that truly don't know, that may take this advice or perspectives as the norm. No most agents will not go out and meet with you, this is ridiculous. No most agents do not want to read emails, visit web sites, watch demos, and return messages or emails. In reality most agents DON'T need you. If they do, they will find you without the need for solicitation.

Danny has provided more real-workings than I would have mentioned, and then for some reason gets grief for it. I often get the feeling that many here really do not want to hear the truth, but rather what they want to hear or the general consensus, whether right or wrong.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 12, 2013 10:11PM)
[quote]
On 2013-06-11 22:40, Al Angello wrote:
Don't contact agents and sit on your butt waiting for your phone to ring. If you want local gigs make contact with all the local agents then send post cards to cub scout packs, day care centers, parks commissioners, municipal authorities, Summer camps, over 55 housing, shopping malls. Place an ad in a local parents news paper. Keep a pencil and paper by your phone, and answer it on the first or second ring.
[/quote]
While I am done with this nonsense I didn't want to forget this.

In my opinion this is the single absolute best piece of advice given in this thread. Especially the first sentence. It is the most rational down to earth advice and needs to be heeded. Al hits the nail on the head and as far as the OP goes this is pure gold.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jun 12, 2013 11:05PM)
[quote]
On 2013-06-12 22:21, Mindpro wrote:
Man, I'm away for a day or two and all hell breaks loose. This just goes to show the many, many misconceptions about agents and agencies. Most entertainers have little or no working knowledge of working with agencies and the inner workings of agencies. I always get a kick out of those that give advice here, as much of it is some if the poorest professional advice in on the entire Café.

Many seem to think because they work with one or two local agencies that they have a working knowledge of agents and agencies, they don't. There are many things insider's know that are NEVER discussed here or in most other performer boards. There are local agencies that operate much differently than regional, national and international agencies. Agencies that book solely or mostly kids and family entertainment operate as a local with minimal true agency standards of operations.

The misinformation from performers thinking they understand this is crazy. I always get a kick out of the sending or soliciting to agencies. It's so one dimensional from the performers perspective (that they think they know, from an artist or ego-based perspective, and RARELY ever from the agencies true perspectives). For example to listen to everyone here you must solicit or submit to agencies (often and repeatedly, have a web site and social media, etc.). This is probably in reality only the third typical and possible way agencies get acts and artists on their roster. The #1 and #2 ways probably make up 85-90% of an agencies roster, and the submissions making up only 5-10%. It's crazy as those that think they know here, would lead you to believe that submitting and contacting agencies is the main way to do so.

Curtis can think what he wants based on his own experience, but just because it has been his experience in no way makes it the standard, norm or typical. It's not. I have had the extremely rare and unique position to work directly with over 150 agencies worldwide, in a capacity which I am almost certain is unlike any single other member anywhere on this board. I've had a very rare opportunity that I've only seen exist maybe three or four times in 38 years. From this unique experience, I can tell you what is true insider's insight and what is performers misconceptions. Curtis is way off based on the majority of these agencies. Most of his perspective is actually opposite from the actual normal workings of these agencies. But if it works for him, that is really great.

My concern is those like the OP that truly don't know, that may take this advice or perspectives as the norm. No most agents will not go out and meet with you, this is ridiculous. No most agents do not want to read emails, visit web sites, watch demos, and return messages or emails. In reality most agents DON'T need you. If they do, they will find you without the need for solicitation.

Danny has provided more real-workings than I would have mentioned, and then for some reason gets grief for it. I often get the feeling that many here really do not want to hear the truth, but rather what they want to hear or the general consensus, whether right or wrong.
[/quote]

Robinn, Yes we can only speak from our experiences!
Message: Posted by: danfreed (Jun 12, 2013 11:24PM)
Dan is mostly looking to book local gigs and pick up extra work, not work with these big agencies. I had a local agency for 10 years and booked mostly family oriented entertainers, lots of magicians, clowns, etc. I also knew the other agents in town. It was pretty simple really, at least where I was. Contact the agents by phone or email, ask them what they want, and give it to them. Be very polite, confident, and professional. Sell yourself without being egotistical. They will probably want to see a demo video or may even go out to see you at a gig, many want references, and they may or may not want to meet you in person. They may want a package of print materials, or they may be happy to look at your website and just start booking you. As an agent, it was frequently a problem to find reliable people who were available, fit the budget of the client, quality act, and not a pain to deal with. We did need people like that and always were happy to find them. Many entertainers were a pain, so be professional and have a really good act and you'll be fine.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 12, 2013 11:41PM)
[quote]
On 2013-06-13 00:24, danfreed wrote:
Dan is mostly looking to book local gigs and pick up extra work, not work with these big agencies. I had a local agency for 10 years and booked mostly family oriented entertainers, lots of magicians, clowns, etc. I also knew the other agents in town. It was pretty simple really, at least where I was. Contact the agents by phone or email, ask them what they want, and give it to them. Be very polite, confident, and professional. Sell yourself without being egotistical. They will probably want to see a demo video or may even go out to see you at a gig, many want references, and they may or may not want to meet you in person. They may want a package of print materials, or they may be happy to look at your website and just start booking you. As an agent, it was frequently a problem to find reliable people who were available, fit the budget of the client, quality act, and not a pain to deal with. We did need people like that and always were happy to find them. Many entertainers were a pain, so be professional and have a really good act and you'll be fine.
[/quote]

Another brilliant post. Perfect and to the point. Absolutely spot on.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jun 13, 2013 12:19AM)
What Dan said in his post is what I was referring to for local markets, event planners and local agents. They are able to operate more the way Curtis and Al were referring to. Most of them are performers or former performers and specialize in local area bookings. The problem is there not many margins in these types of levels and operations. They are good to supplement bookings, but nothing will fill your calendar like generating bookings yourself.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Jun 13, 2013 01:19AM)
As I read this forum, what comes to mind is a performer that does not want to do sales work, but seeks an agent to do it for him.

If anyone expects an agent or agents to do all your sales work and bookings to provide a living as an entertainer, then they picked the wrong career. As a novelty act, one has to be an expert salesman or you will starve, it is really that simple.

Nothing is like the old black and white movies, an agent running after you begging you to take the gig he has found for you.

Sales is hard and expensive, and you have to be selling yourself every second of every day. Good Luck!
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Jun 13, 2013 11:04AM)
This is a fascinating thread. We're all interested in getting more work...or better work...and it's all built on the supposition that other performers are in on something we're not.

I am ever-surprised at the number of performers (and no...this isn't aimed at a specific someone) who want a magic gig pill -- something that will put them on airplanes and send them to exotic locations filled with jolly wealthy clients who LOVE you and send you back toward your private jet with buckets of cash as they scatter rose petals for you to walk on.

There isn't a magic pill. There isn't a secret connection. Just trust me on this. I've looked...and come to the reluctant conclusion that the way to get to where you're going is to work hard. I find I work harder at marketing myself these days than any other single task.

When you're REALLY good, the agents you are looking for now will find you. My understanding is that THIS is when you get the buckets of cash and rose petals. But what do I know? Never been there.

But I DO work a lot. I set goals. I maintain a database of clients and I stay in touch with them. I consider the agents I deal with as "clients"...because they are. So I'm friendly and I treat them with respect -- and I understand that they have clients too -- and that when they book me for one of their clients that it's a trust they are putting in me. Do the math, guys. A happy agent results in many bookings over the years. But expecting that the agent is going to drop everything and help you with your career is a potentially deadly presumption. They won't. They're not supposed to...and they're not going to.

Agents want an act that delights their clients, doesn't make a ripple of trouble or eat up their time. Most of the agents I deal with are happy to know when I have something new to offer...but that's because I have a relationship with them -- and I'm going to work hard to present it to them with maximum clarity with minimum time required from them.

If you're making (or expecting to make) a living as a performer -- you REALLY need to understand that this is a business. Your product (YOU) has to sparkle. Your show has to be wonderful -- and you have to make your clients love what you do. You have to market yourself. You have to be prepared for rejection without letting it crush your spirit. You have to decide on every aspect of your show from costume to routine to sound system and you have to market it. The recurring word there is "YOU."

As I indicated before -- I still get most of my bookings on my own. And it's hard work. The stuff I get from agents are pennies from heaven. But those bookings are the gravy...not the meat.

So many people are too afraid, too scattered or too lazy to get off the chair and go after bookings. Read all the books...take all the courses you want. There's good information there -- BUT nothing is a substitute for getting that phone into your hand and going out to sell what you do. Show BUSINESS starts with YOU -- not an agent.

David
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jun 13, 2013 11:59AM)
Well said David,

I agree with you and the few others that stated that you must market and book yourself.
Message: Posted by: Dimitri Mystery Artist (Jun 13, 2013 12:25PM)
Thank you David for your post!
Message: Posted by: Christophercarter (Jun 13, 2013 01:03PM)
This is an interesting thread to me because I have worked (almost)exclusively through one agency for the last 17 years. I say almost because, while my main agency represents me exclusively on college campuses, I do work through other agencies, meeting and event producers, and speakers bureaus to book corporate work. But one agency handles roughly 85% of my work.

I've spoken to many other acts that work primarily through agents, and I find that each agency has a unique way of communicating with and handling their artists. There are three agents who work at the agency who book me. One texts and emails me frequently during the day and will take my calls in the day time. The other two only email me or talk to me after hours. One would yell at me if I even attempted to call him during work hours. This doesn't bother me in the least, since I know he's on the phone constantly trying to get people to book me.

I'm in the situation where most of the direct contact part of selling is done by my agents. This does not mean that I'm not involved in the marketing. I still have to create the promotional materials and provide them, apply for showcases, and most importantly, I follow up with the clients and pass on spin-off dates to the agents. So our relationship is more of a partnership than a "they work for me" or "I work for them" scenario. I would expect that most of the time when an artist has exclusive represntation that it needs to be this way. If it weren't, I doubt the relationship would last very long.

My general impression is that agents are becoming less relevant in most markets due to the internet and the ease with which the buyer can search and make contact on their own. They're still pretty important in the college market, and I hear that they're still pretty important in a few other markets, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that most of them are feeling a bit pinched these days.

Some previous posters have commented that agencies are generally not appreciative of constant attempts at contact. That's been my experience with every one I have dealt with. I generally only talk to them unsolicited around twice a year. Once is when I send them upgrades to promotional materials, which I do annually, and the other is when I send them a Christmas gift basket. So I only contact them to either give them something to help them sell me, or just give them something to thank them for their efforts. I find that's more effective than bugging them about how they should be booking me.

I'll finish by telling a story about how my agency vets new acts. The main way is they see them at conferences. After that, they'll pay attention to recommendations from acts that are already on their rosters. About twice a year they'll go through unsolicited submissions. How this works is they collect submissions on a table as they come in. After about 6 months, the table is piled so high with promo material that they tell an intern to look through it all, watch the videos, and let them know if there's anything worth considering. What's left over at the end of the process is thrown away. To my knowledge they don't generally send out letters to the people they've rejected, though I may be mistaken. On the other hand, I do know they're unfailingly polite to everybody who contacts them. In any case, your promo better be exciting enough to make it throug the filter of a bored intern, or you should try another method of reaching out to an agent besided random submission.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jun 13, 2013 01:28PM)
As I stated above and in other posts, that too is my findings as well. The "partnership" well defines it. And most "partnerships" are rarely established by blanket emailings or solicitations, in any business. It more from reputation, common interests and goals, personal recommendations, industry or trade relationships or personal relationships.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 13, 2013 01:52PM)
Anyone we use is a recomendation.

I remember when I started at The Funny Bone. I did open mic nights in South Bend for a long time. The owner there thought I was ready put me on in a spot and it was ok. Told me to call the Green Bay room. I did. Let him know who gave me the number and worked for him as well. He put me in contact with Davenport. This was the guy who did most of the bookings for the nation.

His first question was the following. "Who do you know.....better yet who do you know that I know"?

We operate the same basic way.

The thing is that it is only 1/2 the job to be on stage. The sad truth is that once you are at a certain level to a point acts can be interchangeable in many markets. I have no clue about college markets but certainly on cruise ships and in comedy clubs.

Bottom line is we are invariably polite to those we do not use. Within that there are limits.

Part of the problem becomes that often acts just do not understand that they may not be right for the venue. They take it personally. It is what it is. Simply out at that particular time for that particular client they are not the best fit. Another time another client they are perfect. It is not a judgement of the act and certainly not the person.

Off stage is the stuff that gets you the show.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jun 13, 2013 02:13PM)
The fit thing is spot on. You rarely ever hear of a performer doing their due diligence on an agency BEFORE trying to submit to them. Who do they serve, who are their clients, what markets do they serve or specialize in, who is on their roster, etc. What are their needs? It is absolutely crazy for an entertainer to falsely believe that they are ideal for all agencies and all markets and any bookings they may have. They are not.

If you are truly looking for success and developing a "relationship", put in your effort and find an agency that serves your preferred markets of interest. An agency that is the best match for you. But first (and while this should be obvious, it's apparent that it's always not) you must decide what market(s) you are interested in, best suited or most appropriate for, and are properly representable for. Uniqueness and separating yourself from the pack does wonders here. But don't waste your time on agencies that are not a proper match. It only leads to a bad taste in your mouth, performers that bad rap the agency, and a poor image or perception of your opinion of agencies in general. In reality by doing your own work (work as David says, is the key word) saves everyone aggravation, time, effort, expense and improper perceptions.

Most performers do not know their true identity and try to be all things to everyone and every type of booking. This drives agencies up the wall. The real industry simply doesn't work that way. So much of the ill-perceptions and misperceptions of agents and agencies comes directly from the performers, not the agencies. They (agencies) operate in their own world free of such distractions, knowing exactly who they are, who they serve, and the exact types of acts that they are interested in and would work for their business and clients. It is all business.

Also remember these local guys/companies that refer other entertainers back and forth, cover each others jobs, farm out bookings to others, suggest someone else when they are booked or decide the have to cancel, are not the true type of "agencies" most here are discussing. Their is a huge difference.