Interested in being a talent agent but not located in the “right” market for is? Status quo says being a venerable agent is impossible unless they are in L.A. or New York, or maybe Miami or Nashville. But even if you happen to be in a small, less-established city, there’s still talent out there. There’s good news too — there probably isn’t much competition out there!
Starting an agency is a lot easier said than done. You can map it out relatively quickly, but when it comes time to take action, there are quite a few obstacles lying ahead. On the plus side, it’s an incredibly low-cost operation. Aside from expenses of cell phone and internet, and a computer, other expenses are merely extra write-offs (lunch meetings and networking events for example). An office is a nice addition, but it isn’t necessary most often.
The first step? Connections.
This is much easier, and faster, said than done. Connections are built over a long period of time. It might be too long, in-fact, mattering on your patience and the competition in your area. However, manually building connections, one-by-one, might not be your only or best way. Sure, the point of this is to establish your own business and be your own boss, but partnering with someone else may be a good idea. I’m not saying to just partner so you have a second person to schmooze around the community, but so you have someone backing you that already has established connections.
Partners don’t have to be others interested in being agents or running an agency. If you still plan to be the sole proprietor of the talent agency you’re building, find someone in a related and/or supporting the industry. The best example I can give for this is an acting school. This provides you with multiple benefits. Just do your best to avoid building a stigma of being a scam by “requiring” your talent to go to that school to take classes.
You’re going to need to have your clients improve their performance, and a quality acting class can do this. Why not earn some extra money through having them take that course? But again, that can be a conflict of interest and lead to a bad reputation. Alternatively, at least identify a strong acting school to partner with so you know your clients are being best educated. It’s also important to note that it can’t only benefit you. The acting school won’t gain anything financially directly from your work as an agent. However, aside from gaining fame from educating that rising star you discovered early on, the acting school will have a salesman to bring in new individuals and repeat clients of their own!
You can assist the acting school in becoming more valuable to people taking classes thereby providing better access to an agent that will find work for these students. This makes the school more valuable to potential clients. However, students aren’t the only important aspect of a school. They do need to market themselves. A big part of this in smaller communities (as we said we were looking at previously here) is word-of-mouth. When you’re out there selling the acting school and letting others know where you had your actors taught, you’re building their value.
The acting school becomes a more valid choice through your ability to get them to work. However, another huge benefit for you is the established business/persons’ reputation gives you backing that you would not otherwise have. Reputation and awareness is very important in being taken seriously, and getting the elusive call-back. The addition of a possible free office in their established business is a nice benefit as well. While not entirely necessary, especially earlier on, an office can certainly build your image to others.
Acting schools aren’t your only option of course, just an easy example. In reality, anything that you can identify and make work for both parties should be considered. Think, how can you build your agency in a way that aligns with their company mission, while simultaneously creating them value (hopefully financial, but if not, in another manner like validity, marketing, indirect sales, etc).
Be prepared. Do your research. Know the potential partner inside and out. What they are doing now, what they have done, what their mission is. Finally, be ready for any and all of their questions, and to let them know how you will benefit them.
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