This is a guest post from our colleagues at TheSavvyActor.com, a groundbreaking website with countless proven and effective resources that encourages actors and performers to think like small business owners. Thanks to Jodie Bentley and Kevin Urban (Savvy Actor head honchos) for contributing this valuable post to GigSmacked.com.
For our readers: Remember, this can be applied to any artist relationship, not just actors – agents.
The Secret to an Ideal Relationship with Your Agent
By The Savvy Actor
Excerpt from The Savvy Actor Career Manual
At some point an actor will inevitably begin their search to get an agent. Many actors look at the agent relationship as the be‐all and end‐all. Really, that’s when the work begins, but on a different level.
When an actor gets an agent, we often find that one of two things happen:
1. They’re at a loss as to how to proceed.
2. They rely too much on the agent, and stop their own self‐promotion.
Both of these can hurt the agent relationship.
At the Savvy Actor we have created the Five P’s to a Productive Agent Relationship to help you unlock the secret to building the ideal relationship with your agent.
Five P’s to a Productive Agent Relationship:
1. Proper Setup of Relationship
The first step, mainly with legit representation, is making sure they agree with what you sell. This is why packaging and aligning your brand is so important. If you have done all your branding homework and know where you fit in the industry, and they agree, then the relationship will thrive.
In beginning any business relationship, setting up proper communication is vital. Do they prefer email, phone, or dropping by? If there is a project you’re right for, how should you communicate that? These are important questions to answer because if you establish the communication style upfront you never have to second‐guess or worry when contacting them. When you do contact your agent, it must be for a reason – not just to check in.
2. Peer and Partner Thinking
Your relationship with your agent is a business partnership, it’s not a time to be passive! Remember, they only get 10% commission. It is your job to do 90% of the work. It’s your career, not theirs.
Think of them as a peer, not an authority figure; ask for what you want and need without fear. Being afraid of your agents is not the way to have a relationship. When you come from a place of fear, you are not being your authentic self. It’s harder to function in a productive way.
3. (Be) Proactive
You’ve got to be proactive with your agents. This means filling them in on what’s going on in your career and giving them the tools to sell you.
Tools that “sell” you would be:
- Feedback you get in the room when you audition.
- When someone you know is directing/casting/producing/musical directing/ writing a project.
- Casting directors who know you and what they’ve said about you.
- Maintaining and updating information on your website and submission sites.
4. Professionalism and ‘Preciation
You are a small business owner, and it’s of the utmost importance to be professional. Actors tend to complain about their agent situations – whether they don’t have one or they feel their agent isn’t working with them. A small business owner would not complain but rather take steps to fix it. If you treat your agent with professionalism, they will do the same.
‘Preciation or gratitude is the key in maintaining relationships and being professional. Thanking your agent for negotiating contracts and getting you in for auditions is just good business practice. Thank you’s are a must.
5. Position of Trust
When you start working with an agent in a freelance or signed capacity, both parties are really saying,“ I trust you to do your job.“ The actor must trust that they are being submitted, and the agent must trust that you are doing your best work in the room and being professional.
Yet, agents hear these words countless times ‐“Can you submit me for this?” What actors don’t realize, is by asking this question they are basically saying, “I don’t think you did your job, so I have to check up on you.” There’s a big difference between saying, “Can you submit me for this?” and “ I’m sure you submitted me, but I’m very interested in this project” or “I’m sure you submitted me, I just wanted to let you know the director knows my work.” By demonstrating trust, your relationship will be based on a foundation of respect and, inevitably, grow.
Use these five P’s and you are guaranteed to create a successful, savvy partnership with your agent.
--Jodie Bentley, TheSavvyActor.com