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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » I've Been approached by a booking agent...now what do I do? (15 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Mindpro
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.


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.
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socalmagic
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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.
Mindpro
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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.


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.
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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!
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On Jan 9, 2014, misterillusion wrote:
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On 2014-01-09 16:30, Dannydoyle wrote:
Curious situation.

What experience does he have in what you want him to do?


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


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"?
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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.
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saysold1
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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.
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Themagicfox
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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).
garywest
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@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.
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Mindpro
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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.
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I'd never pay someone a monthly "retainer" that has zero experience being an entertainment agent.
saysold1
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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.
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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.


Thanks so much for that post
Great info., much appreciated.
Look for all the world like you're counting the brain cells in his cranium.

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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.
Mindpro
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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.
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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.



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.
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