Last week I examined how favoritism plays between the Buyer, the Entertainment Agent and the Artistic Talent in the capacity to obtain work. It can be great if you are in, and very difficult if you are out. Inevitably as the three-way relationship is exactly that, there are downsides that manifest from time to time. This week I continue this investigation. Also I look at the impact of subcontracting work through Event Management Companies.
The downside for the Agent is they must trust both parties to provide and deliver what they say they will. They will usually have no direct contact with the Talent relying on publicity material, which can lie very convincingly in this digital age. It is rare for Agents in the novelty street theatre etc fields to meet their talent. Some do get to see the work of the talent, but many do not.
They must trust that the Talent will comply with requirements and represent the agency most professionally while on the job. They must trust that only their publicity information will be given out at jobs and refer any further enquiries back to themselves.
They must also trust that an event will be as it is described by the Buyer. For this reason frequently with the larger events, members of an event management team will be on hand to wrangle the affair; stage manage all, in effect from ‘sunup to sundown’ on the big day.
The downside for the Talent is that when many agents work with favourites, they in fact offer the work to a small and select group, which works fabulously if you are in, and disastrously if you are out. This is to be expected to some extent as it’s all about relationships. There are many occasions when many performers will work at an event along side colleagues who have arrived through various agents or self contacts.
Another downside for the Talent occurs when from time to time event management companies must outsource for entertainment. Thus they subcontract from agents who then further subcontract a second agent. There may be as many as two or three sets of commissions being quoted to the end buyer. By the time everyone has had their cut, the Talent is asked to underquote their regular fees and ultimately loses out. In other words, the fee an artist can quote may be significantly less than the starting budget.
In this digital age when clients are more time poor than ever before, they will not trawl through the pages of talent available on booking agents websites, and so rely on the agent to suggest. Consequently the value of a ‘big shop’ as described above, is a false benefit for the majority of Talent and misleads the Buyer into believing the Agent is drawing from a big pool of Talent, all personally considered for the Buyers event… which of course due to the favouritism operating on one side of the equation, is a fallacy.
Next week I conclude this special series of “The Agent Equation”.