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What is a Talent Agent?

Finding work in the creative field can be extraordinarily difficult. In fact, only a small percentage of artists actually find any steady work in their field. Even less become well known artists. In many cases, finding jobs in the entertainment involves both talent and luck.

Having a good talent agent, however, can mean the difference between finding work in a creative field and being left out in the cold. Talent agents discover artists with talent, help them find paying work, and help them negotiate their contracts. All different types of creative artists might benefit from working with a talent agent, including actors, singers, instrumentalists, models, directors, writers, athletes, painters, and sculptors.

Because they work with so many talented individuals, talent agents are the professionals that most employers go to when they are looking to fill specific creative types. In fact, some employers, like major movie studios, won’t hire a creative type unless he is represented by a talent agent or agency.

What Does a Talent Agent Do?

Working as a talent agent often requires long hours and many responsibilities. Many talent agents choose to represent only one type of artists, such as actors or singers.

In general, a talent agent acts as a middleman between talented creative types and those that are looking to hire them. While many other businesses look for ways to “cut out the middleman”, they really are necessary in many creative fields, particularly because talent agents have a large circle of network contacts.

Many talent agents start building their network before they even start their careers, and they keep adding contacts throughout their careers. They keep a list of these contacts handy for whenever their clients are searching for work.

Talent agents might “discover” talent in a variety of places. Many creative types seek out talent agents on their own and may be required to audition, or otherwise prove their talents. For instance, authors might send a completed manuscript to an agent, while musicians may send a demo CD. Talent agents can then screen these individuals based on their talents, working with the most promising ones. A talent agent might also go in search of new talent as well. For example, he might go to theater productions in search of actors, or he might attend small concerts in search of talented musicians.

A talent agent will then go through the process of trying to find each of his clients jobs. In order to do this, he may send audition tapes or other examples of his clients’ work to production studios, record labels, publishing houses, or galleries. He will also apply to jobs on behalf of his clients.

After his clients are hired, a talent agent’s job doesn’t end there. He must then help each of his clients work out the terms of their contracts. A contract may include basic information such as how long the job is and the pay rate, along with other information like what is expected of the artist as well as the hiring entity. A talent agent will also help work out any disputes between the creative talent and the employers, should they arise.

Where Do Talent Agents Work?

If you’re looking to start a talent agent career, you will most likely find yourself in larger metropolitan areas, since this is where most talented creative types flock to as well as where most of the jobs are. Some of the more common cities for talent agents to work in may include Hollywood, New York City, and Nashville.

Most talent agents start out by working in talent agencies that cater to different types of artists. A few of the most prestigious talent agencies representing actors, for example, include the Creative Artists Agency, United Talent Agency, and The William Morris Endeavor Agency. Famous modeling agencies include Ford Models and Elite Model Management.

After working for other agencies, some talent agents might also consider opening their own talent agencies.

What Are the Requirements For a Successful Talent Agent Career?

Although a formal education is not always necessary when pursuing a talent agent career, it is highly recommended. Aspiring talent agents should consider earning bachelor’s degrees in areas like public relations, marketing, or human resources. Minors in areas like music business or film production can also help you collect contacts and help you learn more about these industries.

An internship is also another common step that most individuals must take when pursuing talent agent careers. An internship at a respected talent agency will give you the opportunity to get hand on experience as well as learn from some successful professionals in the field.

Many areas also require talent agents to be licensed as well. The type of licensure that you pursue will usually be determined by what types of artists you plan to represent. For instance, if you’re planning to represent actors, you should look into becoming a franchised Screen Actors’ Guild talent agent.

What is the Average Salary of a Talent Agent?

It is important to remember that, as a talent agent, you will not usually get paid unless your clients get paid. Generally, most talent agents get paid 10 to 20 percent of what their clients make, depending on the job. This means that the more clients you have and the harder you work for your clients, the more money you’ll make.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, agents and business managers for artists, performers, and athletes made an average salary of $87,430 in 2009.

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