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Topic: I've Been approached by a booking agent...now what do I do?
Message: Posted by: misterillusion (Jan 9, 2014 02:43PM)
Interesting situation: I had a meeting this morning with someone who has experience with advertising and booking for radio and television. He is interested in working with me to build my magic business and feels he can increase my bookings significantly. From my knowledge of what he has done for others, I believe he can do what he says. The way we left the meeting this morning was to think about how he should be compensated. My thinking is that he should work on straight commission where he would be paid a percentage of the booked fee (10%, or 20% or 30%) payable upon collection of a 50% downpayment and signed contract from the client. His thinking is more along the lines of a monthly retaining fee plus commission on contracts signed.

This is a new situation for me so I welcome input from anyone here with an opinion.

Thanks, Charlie
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jan 9, 2014 02:53PM)
I'd be cautious. When you say "has experience with advertising and booking for radio and television", I'm wondering in what capacity? I've spend decades in t.v. and radio actually, partially owning and managing a radio station, so I'm quite familiar with these media outlets and their modes of business and operations. So I'm curious. Sounds to me like perhaps he was in advertising or sales, which would make me a bit concerned. The more you can offer, the better I'd be able to advice you or offer an opinion. Best of luck.
Message: Posted by: misterillusion (Jan 9, 2014 03:28PM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-09 15:53, Mindpro wrote:
I'd be cautious. When you say "has experience with advertising and booking for radio and television", I'm wondering in what capacity? I've spend decades in t.v. and radio actually, partially owning and managing a radio station, so I'm quite familiar with these media outlets and their modes of business and operations. So I'm curious. Sounds to me like perhaps he was in advertising or sales, which would make me a bit concerned. The more you can offer, the better I'd be able to advice you or offer an opinion. Best of luck.
[/quote]

His resume states that he was an account executive maintaining $2.5 million in annual media sales for top rated TV station. His clients were CarMax, Les Schwab, and RC Willey. He also lists expertise with Internet and digital media sales. He also states that he was a multi level platform seller, sports NFL, and Olympics station sponsorships. Also "large national agency experience" (Initiative Media and Busch Media).

All of this I have copied from his resume. He currently is a "certified golf consultant" and associated with "Golf Tournament Association of America". His card lists the web site http://www.gtaaweb.org.

Thank you, mindpro, for responding to my post. I for one respect your knowledge & experience and heed your advice.

Charlie
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jan 9, 2014 03:30PM)
Curious situation.

What experience does he have in what you want him to do?
Message: Posted by: bunkyhenry (Jan 9, 2014 03:46PM)
If he is good he will want to work on straight commission. Nobody works lazier than a salesman on salary!
Message: Posted by: misterillusion (Jan 9, 2014 03:46PM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-09 16:30, Dannydoyle wrote:
Curious situation.

What experience does he have in what you want him to do?
[/quote]

From what I can gather from my meeting this morning, his experience and forte has been in sales of advertising and not booking entertainment.
Message: Posted by: misterillusion (Jan 9, 2014 03:47PM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-09 16:46, bunkyhenry wrote:
If he is good he will want to work on straight commission. Nobody works lazier than a salesman on salary!
[/quote]

I agree. That is how I feel too. I can speak from personal expeience on that one
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jan 9, 2014 04:00PM)
That was my exact point. Seems he has sales experience selling advertising and I'm guessing some promotions. His account list are part of national media buys which is not always as impressive as it seems. It doesn't mean he went out and sold those accounts, but rather those companies had national media buys and his station was one of the affiliates chosen and he likely just managed a the account on his local level. This still requires skills and knowledge. When he speaks of "large national agency experience" just to clarify, this means advertising agencies, not entertainment or talent agencies. Each of these national accounts is represented by an ad agency that makes the media buy. He is likely the local level contact to these agencies and actually has little to do with the client itself.

With all this said, he is in sales on a local or regional level with national accounts. This is decent. But does this mean he can represent, market and sell you as an entertainer? Maybe, maybe not. The key is the time and effort you must put in to educate and train the individual to your needs. Remember, he'd be working for you. I will tell you this, Sales people and account execs are often times tough to train to a new skill set as they typically (not always) think they are master salesmen (and women) and can sell anything to anyone at anytime (the old "I can sell ice to an eskimo" mentality).

Now personally, there's two types of Sales/Account Reps at this level - 1.) the very aggressive go getter that hustles for you and makes things happen, gets things done and turns ideas into reality. This is their drive, and 2.) those that feel that they are at such a level that they are an "executive" or in "management" and are more "desk guys" and feel their best way of selling is on the golf course, entertaining, and the old "martini lunches" (do they still exist?).

What you have to determine is which is this guy? (or really anyone you are seeking). It could be a good situation to try on a trial basis. You'll know within days to a few weeks. I wouldn't make any monetary guarantees and work, at least initially on a straight commission basis. If he's good he'll do fine and prove himself well. If not, it'll show.
Message: Posted by: misterillusion (Jan 9, 2014 04:11PM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-09 17:00, Mindpro wrote:
That was my exact point. Seems he has sales experience selling advertising and I'm guessing some promotions. His account list are part of national media buys which is not always as impressive as it seems. It doesn't mean he went out and sold those accounts, but rather those companies had national media buys and his station was one of the affiliates chosen and he likely just managed a the account on his local level. This still requires skills and knowledge. When he speaks of "large national agency experience" just to clarify, this means advertising agencies, not entertainment or talent agencies. Each of these national accounts is represented by an ad agency that makes the media buy. He is likely the local level contact to these agencies and actually has little to do with the client itself.

With all this said, he is in sales on a local or regional level with national accounts. This is decent. But does this mean he can represent, market and sell you as an entertainer? Maybe, maybe not. The key is the time and effort you must put in to educate and train the individual to your needs. Remember, he'd be working for you. I will tell you this, Sales people and account execs are often times tough to train to a new skill set as they typically (not always) think they are master salesmen (and women) and can sell anything to anyone at anytime (the old "I can sell ice to an eskimo" mentality).

Now personally, there's two types of Sales/Account Reps at this level - 1.) the very aggressive go getter that hustles for you and makes things happen, gets things done and turns ideas into reality. This is their drive, and 2.) those that feel that they are at such a level that they are an "executive" or in "management" and are more "desk guys" and feel their best way of selling is on the golf course, entertaining, and the old "martini lunches" (do they still exist?).

What you have to determine is which is this guy? (or really anyone you are seeking). It could be a good situation to try on a trial basis. You'll know within days to a few weeks. I wouldn't make any monetary guarantees and work, at least initially on a straight commission basis. If he's good he'll do fine and prove himself well. If not, it'll show.
[/quote]

Yes, I like the trial basis approach with no monetary commitment on my part. He will sink or swim in the first couple of weeks like you say. It is hard to tell from one brief meeting, but I think he is the agressive go-getter type that gets things done. This is my first impression of him. I have no problem taking the time necessary to train him if he really can do what he says.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jan 9, 2014 04:13PM)
One more thing...I strongly believe there are a completely different set of rules for entertainment business than conventional business. This goes for both the way an entertainment business is setup and operates as well as how it is marketed. To me personally, I 100% believe this is without a doubt, the absolute single-most problem and reason entertainers fail. They try to operate their entertainment business using traditional or conventional business methods, practices and mentalities. I see it on a daily basis.

This is why certain (many or most) marketing methods, certain social media, websites and other things may work for conventional business but many entertainment businesses often and likely end up having different results or no results.

I only mention this as it is likely, almost assuredly that this sales guy will approach your entertainment business through the mentalities and perspectives of conventional and standard sales. It is all he (and most) know. This would be a great concern to me, but I only mention it as he seems to think "he knows what you need" and it's likely from a typical sales perspective for conventional business.

I'm not trying to encourage or discourage you, you giving you my perspective and insight.

I get sales reps contact my agencies all the time for positions as an agent, falsely believing just because they have sale experience that they could easily be an agent. I had one former insurance agent once actually tell me - "insurance, entertainment, it's all the same thing. I can sell anything". Very incorrect perception. Yes, if they are willing to learn the business of entertainment, entertainment marketing and the intricacies of entertainment, they could make the transformation, but on their own - very unlikely. I personally have had the best luck hiring entertainers or former entertainers who in my experience have made the best agents.
Message: Posted by: misterillusion (Jan 9, 2014 06:27PM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-09 17:13, Mindpro wrote:
One more thing...I strongly believe there are a completely different set of rules for entertainment business than conventional business. This goes for both the way an entertainment business is setup and operates as well as how it is marketed. To me personally, I 100% believe this is without a doubt, the absolute single-most problem and reason entertainers fail. They try to operate their entertainment business using traditional or conventional business methods, practices and mentalities. I see it on a daily basis.

This is why certain (many or most) marketing methods, certain social media, websites and other things may work for conventional business but many entertainment businesses often and likely end up having different results or no results.

I only mention this as it is likely, almost assuredly that this sales guy will approach your entertainment business through the mentalities and perspectives of conventional and standard sales. It is all he (and most) know. This would be a great concern to me, but I only mention it as he seems to think "he knows what you need" and it's likely from a typical sales perspective for conventional business.

I'm not trying to encourage or discourage you, you giving you my perspective and insight.

I get sales reps contact my agencies all the time for positions as an agent, falsely believing just because they have sale experience that they could easily be an agent. I had one former insurance agent once actually tell me - "insurance, entertainment, it's all the same thing. I can sell anything". Very incorrect perception. Yes, if they are willing to learn the business of entertainment, entertainment marketing and the intricacies of entertainment, they could make the transformation, but on their own - very unlikely. I personally have had the best luck hiring entertainers or former entertainers who in my experience have made the best agents.
[/quote]

Very interesting. I was also of the opinion that sales-is-sales-is-sales. The only thing I personally have ever known is commercial sales, so that is probably why I am not as successful myself when I do my own bookings. Yes, I do believe this person would be applying standard conventional sales techniques. He seems to be enough of a "driver" to ram-rod his way through to achieve his objective and learn, I guess, along the way. It could be a rude awakening too. This would be all the more reason to start off with a "trial period" I think.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jan 9, 2014 09:51PM)
I would be cautious.
Message: Posted by: hypblake (Jan 9, 2014 10:46PM)
I read here, but never post. This one is pulling me out of the woods so to speak. I graduated from College in Sales. In my life I have worked as a sales rep and sales manager for big corporations. I understand sales in that environment very well. I have run my own businesses and understand that very well.

With that as a history I thought. You know going full time entertainer will be a walk in the park. I understand business and sales, so here we go. Not the case. It is a different animal and I am constantly reminded of that. You do have to re-train yourself to sell entertainment. This guy will be no different. If he is willing to do that and he is a "Go getter" I could see it working. I would not pay him anything, but I would be willing to pay a good commission for the risk of him getting nothing if he doesn't sell it. If you put a guy on straight comission you have to make it worth it on the back end. If the sales rep gets zero for salary and gets peanuts on the comission his interest in this deal will last about 3 days (if you are lucky). He'll just go hunting for something more lucrative.

The good thing is he does have sales experience and in an extemley competitive market. He is probably used to hunting to eat, so that is a plus. Sales is certainly not for everyone. It can be hard being told no over and over again. It is probably why so many entertainers can't do it.

I think the question I would ask myself first is this. Is this the guy I would want representing me? The impression he leaves with people is the impression they will have of you. These impressions can last a long long time. I remember meeting with someone that was a little long in the tooth. They refused to buy from the company I represented, because 15 years earlier a rep had hit on her. 15 years later even though we had a better product and service she refused to buy. Impressions can last a real long time.
Message: Posted by: misterillusion (Jan 10, 2014 06:09PM)
[quote]
On 2014-01-09 23:46, hypblake wrote:
I read here, but never post. This one is pulling me out of the woods so to speak. I graduated from College in Sales. In my life I have worked as a sales rep and sales manager for big corporations. I understand sales in that environment very well. I have run my own businesses and understand that very well.

With that as a history I thought. You know going full time entertainer will be a walk in the park. I understand business and sales, so here we go. Not the case. It is a different animal and I am constantly reminded of that. You do have to re-train yourself to sell entertainment. This guy will be no different. If he is willing to do that and he is a "Go getter" I could see it working. I would not pay him anything, but I would be willing to pay a good commission for the risk of him getting nothing if he doesn't sell it. If you put a guy on straight comission you have to make it worth it on the back end. If the sales rep gets zero for salary and gets peanuts on the comission his interest in this deal will last about 3 days (if you are lucky). He'll just go hunting for something more lucrative.

The good thing is he does have sales experience and in an extemley competitive market. He is probably used to hunting to eat, so that is a plus. Sales is certainly not for everyone. It can be hard being told no over and over again. It is probably why so many entertainers can't do it.

I think the question I would ask myself first is this. Is this the guy I would want representing me? The impression he leaves with people is the impression they will have of you. These impressions can last a long long time. I remember meeting with someone that was a little long in the tooth. They refused to buy from the company I represented, because 15 years earlier a rep had hit on her. 15 years later even though we had a better product and service she refused to buy. Impressions can last a real long time.
[/quote]

I am glad you came "out of the woods" because you have made some very valid comments here. I too have a sales background as well as sales management background for national companies. I have had my share of failures and successes and have also done quite well with commission sales. When I entered sales I came out of the manufacturing side and had to learn the sales profession from scratch. One thing I found out was that there are some basic principles which, when followed, will give predictable results. The other thing I found was that the best way through a minefield is in someone else's footprints (found that out in Vietnam 1968 to 1969). This is why I posted my situation on this site because I know there are many here who have been through the "minefield" before me....like you & Mindpro, Bunkyhenry, and Dannydoyle. My sincere thanks

--Charlie
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Jan 10, 2014 07:14PM)
1. Search the internet for reviews on the agent.
2. Read the contract carefully.
3. Make sure you get a copy.
Message: Posted by: misterillusion (Jan 13, 2014 09:34PM)
Well, I received a call from my "booking agent" contact and he is proposing a very interesting arrangement. I will not be accepting this of course, but thought you might get a chuckle out of it:

"Hello Charlie:

Great speaking with today and thank you for time. Charlie, as discussed I’m interested in working with you as a partner to build your business, and grow your client base exponentially over the next (6) months. I plan to increase the number of shows you perform to (22) per month. I plan to handle your event booking, and allow you to focus on the “show business” part of your business. Imagine how terrific your performances would be if you could spend the majority of your time perfecting your art? In the event we form a partnership here is a list of services I will provide;

Provide (20) hours per week promoting Mister Illusion in No. California, Reno and surrounding areas
Work with you to develop a (90) day strategy and plan for new clients
Handle all negotiations, bookings and paperwork for events
Attend all events, as MC for all performances and handle business for the show
Prepare a marketing plan for more business
Produce marketing materials for Mister Illusion to promote new business
Contact all previous clients for repeat performances


These are some of the things I’ll bring to the table. It will be very challenging to hire a qualified person (commission only) that will deliver results. I’ll deliver, based on the long range potential of our partnership. Charlie, I’ll need a small retainer/draw for my services and time, bi-weekly ($500.00). This is more than fair for my level of business experience, sales experience and marketing background. This amount would be due upon signing the agreement. The income from (22) shows per month could exceed $7000.00 which we would split 60/40. Now, is the time to move on the idea to increase your “show business” and the next 2-3 months are key. I reviewed the Independent Contractor Agreement, and agree with the terms and conditions, subject to a few minor adjustments. Please consider the items presented, and get back to me by Friday. Thanks again and good luck!"
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jan 13, 2014 11:57PM)
...and this is what's wrong with conventional sales (and the different between conventional sales and entertainment sales).

As I said...

Well at least this is a great learning opportunity. As you can see he's basing all of this on conventional sales, yet he knows nothing about you, selling your type of service and nothing about your target markets (yet he's taking about making you guarantees - makes no sense).

If he was so sure about the results he could generate, as would any truly great salesman, he'd be more interested in taking a straight commission from the so assuredly project $7,000 per month.

He needs to prove himself for you , not you to him. He's be working for you, not you for him. This is so much the problem with sales people.

Sorry this didn't work out for you, but this is exactly the type of thing I was referring to.

What always kills me the most about these type of guys with this type of interest, is there is never any mention of him learning your business form the inside our - FIRST, before making any random promises or projections. As I said don't feel bad, consider yourself having saved $500 bi-weekly for six months, only to find out he was basing his entire perspective on imagined results (from a conventional sales perspective) only to result in few if any real bookings that you are desiring. Likely if he did get you something, they would not be your typical gigs, as they would almost surely have problems and poor performance arrangements, conditions and dynamics. I've seen this so many times before.

Thanks for sharing this with us.
Message: Posted by: Close.Up.Dave (Jan 14, 2014 06:12AM)
I love getting calls from marketing companies, telling me why they can increase my business. I especially love hearing it from people who already assume they know my target markets. I simply ask them how many magic shows they have been responsible for booking and how their marketing tactics translated into bookings. They begin to hem and haw and the conversation ends quickly. It's too bad your situation doesn't seem like a good fit.
Message: Posted by: misterillusion (Jan 14, 2014 08:08AM)
In a way it is kind of flattering to think someone wants to book shows for me, but there is no way I would ever agree to his proposal. I believe what I have to do is do more shows, get more exposure and the legitimate booking agents will then take notice.

Thanks again Mindpro and everyone else who have provided their experience and guidance.

Charlie
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Jan 14, 2014 08:40AM)
That is one reason I don't trust people when they call themselves agents.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jan 14, 2014 09:18AM)
I understand but this guy never said he was an agent, but rather a sales person or account executive, which was kind of my overall point - he approached this entire idea like a salesman selling Charlie's product, which was his performing services, rather than having an interest in approaching this as an agent representing an artist. Being an agent is much more and different than being just a salesman.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Jan 14, 2014 09:29AM)
I have seen flyers throughout my years searching for entertainers or models. The flyers claim the business will help you make money. I can't recall if "agent" was printed on the flyer. Each ones leads to a fee from the entertainer.

One time on the tv news media I remember the entertainers complaining they did not get any gigs from paying the fee.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jan 14, 2014 09:57AM)
Yeah, I remember those as well. Of course those are not really agents, as true working agents don't need to "advertise" to get clients to represent. You're right, these are also quite popular with Modeling and other "being discovered" scams.
Message: Posted by: Themagicfox (Mar 3, 2014 12:56PM)
I know this is an older post, but I thought that I would through in my two cents too. I was an actor in New York for 4 years, and have dealt with a lot of different agents in the entertainment industry. Any agent looking to sign with you should work strictly on commission 10 to 20 percent, no more and no less. 15% is the normal amount. Keep in mind that if you were to sign with an agent, and you book something on your own, you still have to give the percent to your agent. Also, it is extremely important to look at their past cliental, and if they have experience with what you are looking for. Important for an illusion show is if they have booked anything in a major stage space before. Also important is how many people are they currently representing? If they have too many clients, then you can just be put on the back burner and never be booked, but you still have to give a commission to your agent. Or if there are very few, are they all being booked and working? Can you see the caliber of their other clients performances. These are all very important to pay attention too.
Message: Posted by: misterillusion (Mar 3, 2014 09:04PM)
[quote]
On Mar 3, 2014, Themagicfox wrote:
I know this is an older post, but I thought that I would through in my two cents too. I was an actor in New York for 4 years, and have dealt with a lot of different agents in the entertainment industry. Any agent looking to sign with you should work strictly on commission 10 to 20 percent, no more and no less. 15% is the normal amount. Keep in mind that if you were to sign with an agent, and you book something on your own, you still have to give the percent to your agent. Also, it is extremely important to look at their past cliental, and if they have experience with what you are looking for. Important for an illusion show is if they have booked anything in a major stage space before. Also important is how many people are they currently representing? If they have too many clients, then you can just be put on the back burner and never be booked, but you still have to give a commission to your agent. Or if there are very few, are they all being booked and working? Can you see the caliber of their other clients performances. These are all very important to pay attention too.
[/quote]

Thanks for your comments. I did not know that an agent would get a commssion on what I booked myself. Interesting. Needless to say, I did not go the agent "route". Instead I took James Munton's course "Zero to Booked Solid in 30 days" and I will remain as my own "booking agent". Perhaps my business growth will attract legitmate agents down the road. Things are working in that direction. I just finished doing my taxes for 2013, and when I compared my business volume from that year to this year-to-date, I have more than three times the business income this year (year-to-date). ......and no commissions to pay out.
Thanks, Charlie
Message: Posted by: socalmagic (Mar 4, 2014 09:55AM)
I don't know how I missed this thread. It is very interesting. I come from the other side; I've been a full-time entertainer for 19 years, and only know about selling entertainment, and I always thought it was like a reular business. What would be some differences between an entertainment company and a mainstream company regarding sales and marketing?

Also, I hire people to do my sales, and I pay an hourly plus commission because the learning curve is steep. They have to learn my show, fundraising system, and sales system. This can definitly take a long time. I normally don't see results for several months. I will swich them to commission only once they have learned my system.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Mar 4, 2014 10:33AM)
[quote]
On Mar 3, 2014, Themagicfox wrote:
Keep in mind that if you were to sign with an agent, and you book something on your own, you still have to give the percent to your agent.
[/quote]

This is not necessarily true in live entertainment as much as it is more common with models and actors. Most entertainers operate under non-exclusive representation agreements with agents and agencies, therefore allowing them to be able to be listed and accept bookings with other (several to many) agents/agencies as well as being able to still do their own bookings - all without any obligation or commission due to the agent.

What you have said is more common and appropriate with exclusive representation agreements, personal management deals, or market exclusive represenation agreements.
Message: Posted by: Themagicfox (Jan 8, 2016 10:20AM)
I know it's been a while since this discussion, but I just now saw the replies.

MindPro is correct, I come from a film, commercial, and television acting background where these type of agents are. As for the magical side of things, just make sure you know what's in your contract. The entertainment world is full of people that want to make money off the people putting in the work, some good and some not so good. So just be careful for anyone that reads this and is considering seaking representation. Do your homework!

Glad things are going well Charlie!
Message: Posted by: saysold1 (Jan 8, 2016 07:47PM)
[quote]On Jan 9, 2014, misterillusion wrote:
[quote]
On 2014-01-09 16:30, Dannydoyle wrote:
Curious situation.

What experience does he have in what you want him to do?
[/quote]

From what I can gather from my meeting this morning, his experience and forte has been in sales of advertising and not booking entertainment. [/quote]

Pass

As someone with a lifetime sales background I also felt that this smelled bad from your initial post.

The method he used to try to catch you was by flattering you - an amateurish strategy at best that you almost fell for.

Who wouldn't be flattered by someone offering to manage one of us?

But as Mindpro said the problem was that this salesman was more focused on himself then you - which is always the sign of a poor salesman and certainly not a successful pro.

If he was so successful in the ad world at a TV station etc - why is he suddenly looking to change careers to be an agent...something he has zero experience in... and seeking a lazy man "retainer"?
Message: Posted by: garywest (Jan 11, 2016 11:53AM)
I have been reading this thread and wanted to add a piece of advice based on myown experience... In the mid 70's I was 18 years old and doing a dove act. I worked regularly at the Jersey shore as well as in NY, PA and the DC area. After finishing a 12 week club date in Wildwood, NJ, I looked at my calendar and realized that I only had a dozen dates on the books over the next 2 months so I decided to look for an agent / manager. After some discussions with a few agents, I was directed towards an old timer in NY that had 50years in the business. His name was Jack Segal. On his talent management roster were a few singers, a few dance acts, a fairly well known comedian named Jack Carter and 3 actors, one of whom was Olivia DeHaviland, a bonafide Hollywood movie star. I called Jack and introduced myself to him and he surprised me when he said he knew who I was. I assumed he had gotten a call from one of the agents that I had approached and who had recommended me to him. I made an appointment to meet him in his office the following week following a date I had booked in the city. I did a show at a private luncheon on that Wednesday and headed over to his office which was located in an office building on 7th Ave. Let me try to describe the impressions I got... His office was located on the 5th floor, a one room office with a glass door and Jack's name was etched on the smoked glass door... Jack Segal, Theatrical Agent. I knocked and heard him invite me in. Sitting behind a huge old wooden desk was a little Jewish guy and on his desk were a pad of paper, three dial telephones one of which he was talking on and another one had the handset off the cradle and was sitting on the desk. Jack motioned for me to sit down and he continued with his phone call. He was talking to a movie studio in California negotiating a part in a movie for one of his actors. I was thinking... wow... This is real show business! He finished up the call, hung up the phone and picked up the handset on the desk... That was his hold button... Put the phone on the desk! He then proceeded to discuss me with whoever was on the other line finishing his conversation with... I'll call you after I finish talking with this kid. He hung up the phone and we talked about my act, what my plans were, and what his thoughts were on my career. He wasted little time telling me that he could do a lot for me but it was really up to me to make my act go where I wanted it to go. I have to say, at that point, I felt confident that this guy was the real thing and so I started to talk about the money end of the deal... I was interrupted by another phone call that he took and during which he booked singer Julie DeJohn for 10 appearances in the Catskills. As soon as he hung up, he opened a desk drawer and took out a management contract and set it in front of me. I looked at it and saw immediately that it already had my name typed in the "Artist" line... What a surprise that was. He told me that he wanted to get started quickly so I should read over the contract, three years with two additional three year options... Both of us had the option to continue... And asked me to let him know what I thought. It was the first time in my life I had been asked to make a commitment to anyone for such a long period of time and I mistakenly thought he wanted me to take the contract home and get back to him... I looked up from the contract and Jack handed me a pen... Right there... Here's the pen! I hesitated for a second and Jack smiled at me and said, "Look... You have 7 days to back out of this so don't be worried." I guess the whole vibe was just so crazy to me that I threw caution to the wind, took the pen and signed the contract right then and there. Most people, when I tell them this story, say I was nuts to make a quick decision like that... Until I tell them the rest of the story. I handed him back the signed contract, he put it back in his drawer and pulled out another contract which I assumed was a copy that he had signed for me, but... No... It was a contract for 75 shows over the next three month period in the Catskills, the Poconos and a few club dates in the city. I almost fell off my chair. Suffice it to say, I was managed by Jack Segal for the next 5 years and worked all the time. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately depending on how you look at it, I got involved with the new casinos in Atlantic City and after some hard conversations with Jack, we decided mutually that I should go out on my own. He and I remained friends for years following. I don't think he was upset that I moved on... He had booked me and collected around 18 to 20% of over $300,000 (that was the 70's... think more like a $Mil in today's money) in appearances over the nearly 5 years we were working together. He never asked for anything on dates I booked myself and I always got his input before I booked anything on my own. So now... After that long story... Here's my advice... If you are approached by an agent / manager / salesman, do your home work... make sure he has the credentials in show business to do something for you. Make sure he is known and respected in the business. Make sure he is already successful doing what he says he will do for you or you are going to be tying yourself up with someone and chasing a dream that is probably not going to happen. If he is not already making a living in this business, you don't want to be a Guinea pig for his untested booking methods. If you have a good act / product, and you are lucky enough to get aligned with a good agent, be prepared to partner with him and always get his input because they may know more than you about what they have planned for your future... Like Jack knew before I walked into the office that I was going to get 75 shows booked in a matter of 15 minutes. Good luck and happy agent hunting.
Message: Posted by: saysold1 (Jan 11, 2016 09:27PM)
Great story - that was a fun read!

My Papa Dave Barry worked the Catskills some years before your story began. Must have been quite a place.

Sounds like Jack was old school and very good at what he did.
Message: Posted by: Themagicfox (Jan 11, 2016 09:53PM)
That was a great story! If only we could all be that fortunate! I am fairly young, but it seems like since the Internet became big, the entertainment industry has attracted a lot of crooked agents and managers, and even people intending to do good but probably don't have the background they should to really help. But of course for every bad agent there is probably a good one out there. It can feel like a coin toss, but since we magicians are smart, we should be doing our internet homework on those individuals (to ensure we are flipping a double headed coin and the ball is in our favor).
Message: Posted by: garywest (Jan 12, 2016 11:26AM)
@saysold1: the name Dave Barry sounds very familiar... Was he a comic? Jack was great... When I met him he was probably 70 years old and He worked the business full time until the 90's... His 90's and calendar 90,s!

@themagicfox: I think it is so important to get one or more recommendations from people in the business before you approach anyone about management... And the more the better. If someone has been successful working with a particular manager / agent, and that manager /agent shows an interest in you, it's the perfect storm. And NEVER pay anyone in advance for work that has not been booked by them and performed by you. On the contrary... Always get a piece of the booking money in front... A deposit shows good faith on their part that you are going to get paid. That being said, if you are hooked up long term with a manager, your agreement may call for a different payment situation, in which case, you will have to deal with the deal.

Glad you both liked the story... Here is a related one... I opened for comedian Jack Carter in the mountains a dozen times and the first time was one of those 75 bookings that I mentioned. I met Jack who was a pretty gruff guy who took no bllsht from anyone but was a very successful comedian. Since I was pretty new, I thought that he might give me some advice to help me along, so after my show, I watched Jack perform and when he came off stage I went to his dressing room to say goodbye and I asked him right out... What advice can you give me to help me be successful in this business? He didn't miss a beat... Looking at me straight in the eye he pulled his wallet out of his back pocket and said... You wanna make money in show business and keep it?? Listen to me........ Don't EVER leave your wallet in the dressing room! Have a nice day... And he walked out! That was at the Browns Hotel in 1975 and I have never left my wallet in the dressing room since.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jan 12, 2016 11:47AM)
I agree what a great story. I worked with Jack a few times over the years. he was part of that Norm Crosby, Morey Amsterdam group of comics from that era. He live din Beverly Hills and was still a old-school comedian through and through until his recent passing.

Unfortunately, agents have changed from those days. It's a different playing field and approach these days. I miss and much prefer those days when agents had a vested personal interest in you as an artist.
Message: Posted by: MM2714330 (Jan 25, 2016 08:53PM)
I'd never pay someone a monthly "retainer" that has zero experience being an entertainment agent.
Message: Posted by: saysold1 (Jan 28, 2016 12:11AM)
Yes my grandfather Dave Barry was the comic and Mindpro apparently knew him too.

I had met Jack Carter a number of times and my grandpa was a longtime Friars club member where all those guys played cards daily - I think George Burns and Milton Bearle were there a lot.

Loved those days.

Shecky was funny too btw.
Message: Posted by: 252life (Jun 9, 2016 01:15PM)
[quote]On Jan 11, 2016, garywest wrote:
I have been reading this thread and wanted to add a piece of advice based on myown experience... In the mid 70's I was 18 years old and doing a dove act. I worked regularly at the Jersey shore as well as in NY, PA and the DC area. After finishing a 12 week club date in Wildwood, NJ, I looked at my calendar and realized that I only had a dozen dates on the books over the next 2 months so I decided to look for an agent / manager. After some discussions with a few agents, I was directed towards an old timer in NY that had 50years in the business. His name was Jack Segal. On his talent management roster were a few singers, a few dance acts, a fairly well known comedian named Jack Carter and 3 actors, one of whom was Olivia DeHaviland, a bonafide Hollywood movie star. I called Jack and introduced myself to him and he surprised me when he said he knew who I was. I assumed he had gotten a call from one of the agents that I had approached and who had recommended me to him. I made an appointment to meet him in his office the following week following a date I had booked in the city. I did a show at a private luncheon on that Wednesday and headed over to his office which was located in an office building on 7th Ave. Let me try to describe the impressions I got... His office was located on the 5th floor, a one room office with a glass door and Jack's name was etched on the smoked glass door... Jack Segal, Theatrical Agent. I knocked and heard him invite me in. Sitting behind a huge old wooden desk was a little Jewish guy and on his desk were a pad of paper, three dial telephones one of which he was talking on and another one had the handset off the cradle and was sitting on the desk. Jack motioned for me to sit down and he continued with his phone call. He was talking to a movie studio in California negotiating a part in a movie for one of his actors. I was thinking... wow... This is real show business! He finished up the call, hung up the phone and picked up the handset on the desk... That was his hold button... Put the phone on the desk! He then proceeded to discuss me with whoever was on the other line finishing his conversation with... I'll call you after I finish talking with this kid. He hung up the phone and we talked about my act, what my plans were, and what his thoughts were on my career. He wasted little time telling me that he could do a lot for me but it was really up to me to make my act go where I wanted it to go. I have to say, at that point, I felt confident that this guy was the real thing and so I started to talk about the money end of the deal... I was interrupted by another phone call that he took and during which he booked singer Julie DeJohn for 10 appearances in the Catskills. As soon as he hung up, he opened a desk drawer and took out a management contract and set it in front of me. I looked at it and saw immediately that it already had my name typed in the "Artist" line... What a surprise that was. He told me that he wanted to get started quickly so I should read over the contract, three years with two additional three year options... Both of us had the option to continue... And asked me to let him know what I thought. It was the first time in my life I had been asked to make a commitment to anyone for such a long period of time and I mistakenly thought he wanted me to take the contract home and get back to him... I looked up from the contract and Jack handed me a pen... Right there... Here's the pen! I hesitated for a second and Jack smiled at me and said, "Look... You have 7 days to back out of this so don't be worried." I guess the whole vibe was just so crazy to me that I threw caution to the wind, took the pen and signed the contract right then and there. Most people, when I tell them this story, say I was nuts to make a quick decision like that... Until I tell them the rest of the story. I handed him back the signed contract, he put it back in his drawer and pulled out another contract which I assumed was a copy that he had signed for me, but... No... It was a contract for 75 shows over the next three month period in the Catskills, the Poconos and a few club dates in the city. I almost fell off my chair. Suffice it to say, I was managed by Jack Segal for the next 5 years and worked all the time. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately depending on how you look at it, I got involved with the new casinos in Atlantic City and after some hard conversations with Jack, we decided mutually that I should go out on my own. He and I remained friends for years following. I don't think he was upset that I moved on... He had booked me and collected around 18 to 20% of over $300,000 (that was the 70's... think more like a $Mil in today's money) in appearances over the nearly 5 years we were working together. He never asked for anything on dates I booked myself and I always got his input before I booked anything on my own. So now... After that long story... Here's my advice... If you are approached by an agent / manager / salesman, do your home work... make sure he has the credentials in show business to do something for you. Make sure he is known and respected in the business. Make sure he is already successful doing what he says he will do for you or you are going to be tying yourself up with someone and chasing a dream that is probably not going to happen. If he is not already making a living in this business, you don't want to be a Guinea pig for his untested booking methods. If you have a good act / product, and you are lucky enough to get aligned with a good agent, be prepared to partner with him and always get his input because they may know more than you about what they have planned for your future... Like Jack knew before I walked into the office that I was going to get 75 shows booked in a matter of 15 minutes. Good luck and happy agent hunting. [/quote]

Thanks so much for that post
Great info., much appreciated.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jun 21, 2016 05:13PM)
I may be wrong but I would guess getting a genuine agent today to put you to work is very remote. Sure it can and does happen but not as often as one would like to believe.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jun 21, 2016 06:06PM)
I would say you are wrong. Because few agencies actually sign exclusive representation deals these days it is actually easier than ever to find an agent/agencies than in previous decades. The problem is most performers have false expectaions and many are not agent-ready.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jun 21, 2016 06:38PM)
[quote]On Jun 21, 2016, Mindpro wrote:
I would say you are wrong. Because few agencies actually sign exclusive representation deals these days it is actually easier than ever to find an agent/agencies than in previous decades. The problem is most performers have false expectaions and many are not agent-ready. [/quote]


Hmmmmmmmmm then it must be city specific or national agency MP...you know, no taxation (performance income) without representation. I think a lot of event planners present themselves as agents. Plus not talking about the ones where you walk in and the rough looking guy in a leather vest who wants to take pictures of you in a G.
Message: Posted by: 252life (Jun 21, 2016 06:57PM)
I thought you looked familar Decomposed lol
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jun 21, 2016 10:38PM)
[quote]On Jun 21, 2016, 252life wrote:
I thought you looked familar Decomposed lol [/quote]

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. lol :banned:
Message: Posted by: 252life (Jun 21, 2016 11:15PM)
Lmao :)
Message: Posted by: 252life (Jun 21, 2016 11:16PM)
Plus, those pics came out great
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jun 21, 2016 11:20PM)
[quote]On Jun 21, 2016, 252life wrote:
Plus, those pics came out great [/quote]


Thanks!
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jun 23, 2016 01:41PM)
Okay, I have an appointment with an agent coming up and I talked with one of their customers who does acting. They have a one year contract and $250 start up fee. This is for photos, promotion etc. If after one year you do not want to extend, you write a notarized letter. I think the fees for second year are about $165.. They are primarily a model agency but now are promoting entertainment. They have been in business for 23 years. Just wanted to see what my Café brothers think about this and if this is common. Thanks in advance


Decomposing Acting Career that Never Occurred Except as An Extra so Acting as a Mentalist :rockandroll:
Message: Posted by: 252life (Jun 23, 2016 02:54PM)
Decomposed...brother...don't do it is my opinion.
I know I could be wrong, and cost you that Emmy lol, but this has first blush stink all over it.

Keep us posted.
Message: Posted by: 252life (Jun 23, 2016 02:54PM)
252Advice lol
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 23, 2016 02:58PM)
[quote]On Jun 23, 2016, 252life wrote:
Decomposed...brother...don't do it is my opinion.
I know I could be wrong, and cost you that Emmy lol, but this has first blush stink all over it.

Keep us posted. [/quote]

I agree 100%.

I've not used a physical photo to promote variety entertainment in 1 more than 10 years.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jun 23, 2016 03:29PM)
Thanks ya'll. :whatthe:


After talking to a performer with them, I just thought for $250 they really are not making any money unless they sell you. They do photos etc.....Now if it was like $800 a year then 400 after or something, I figure the stink would be much more potent.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jun 23, 2016 03:33PM)
Why does the dollar amount matter? If it is wrong it is wrong.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jun 23, 2016 03:51PM)
As probably the only member here that owns both entertainment agencies and a modeling agency, my advice is to approach at your own risk with caution. I will say that entertainment agencies and modeling agencies are two completely different animals, both approaching their industries and more importantly their talent form completely different perspectives.

I have had several of our agents want to work both agencies, I we absolutely forbid it. Won't even consider it due to the way they operate and the many different and often opposing mentalities.

Modeling agencies do have the element of requiring decent quality professional photos. It is what they submit to their clients and anything less reflects directly on them. For many years the general rule of thumb was you should never have to pay for listing, representation or photos. If you need photos get them done on your own. From an agency's perspective they would rather have you shoot with their recommended photographers who they know and have worked with many times before. They know their work, and the photogs know exactly what the agency wants and needs. Of course the photographer has to be paid for their services so agencies offer it as a viable option (which many times is much better than you paying for your own pro photographer getting the shots and type of photos you THINK the agency wants only to find out upon submission they can't be used and are not at all what the agency needs.)

Now in these days of selfies, modeling agencies are going crazy with the receiving of newbies wanting to break into the business and even though their submission process says "Submit professional photos only" they still get 95% selfies. So as a backlash to this and in an attempt to maintain the professional shots they require more seem to be going to the pay for shots or pay for representation that includes photos.

Either way a modeling agency likely will not do much for a live entertainer. They may have access to extra info for actors, which is also usually available for free through proper industry resources if you know what they are. Most serious actors or extras easily know these.

My question would be, why do you think they would be able, qualified or interested in getting you bookings as a live entertainer or mentalist? It is expensive to operate an agency and cultivate clients who book, need or offer entertainment. I can't see a typical modeling agency making the commitment required to "also offer entertainment." I'd be very interested in seeing how your meeting goes. What guarantees do you get by paying the fee? What and how much live entertainment are they currently booking? What entertainment markets are they booking and have the best success with? Are they the markets you serve? Who are some of their clients they provide live entertainment for? Who are some of the other artists (entertainers) they represent.

I would be happy to tell you more about the specific agency if you want to email me who they are. We could see if they are a licensed, registered agency, and if they are listed as part of the national association, and there are any legitimate complaints against them.

I think, like the OP and his initial inquiry and situation that started this thread (of which I offered the advice which ended up being 100% accurate and hitting the "agent" on the head as far as who and what he really was) this could very likley turn out the same way.

Mu question is how did this develop? Did you find them, they find you? Did you respond to an ad? Did you encounter a recruiter (common in modeling agencies, not entertainment)?
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jun 23, 2016 04:48PM)
Thanks for help MP, I PMed you.