Listener Question – Agent Relations

The first VO Boss Listener Question Episode! Anne and Gabby love your questions and feedback! Keep them coming and it may end up in our next episode! Question from Macha Gruber:

“I have been throwing myself into casting site research and submissions. And I had a director ask me if I have an agent, and I responded, Well, I have four. So, My question is how do I handle this? First of all, why do they need my agent to begin with? Second, how do I pick which one to offer up? And third, do I have to volunteer someone as tribute, to begin with? Is there any way around this?”

Listen as Anne and Gabby answer all of Macha’s questions above and dive into the world of agents, what they expect FROM you and what they can do FOR you. The tides are turning in this space, so this info might not be what you think!


Takeaways

Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. It’s ok to cultivate client relationships 100% on your own.

  2. If you have a complicated deal, or a contract that you need assistance negotiating, this is a great time to bring an agent in to the process.

  3. When bringing in your agent, make sure to go first with the agent that represents you in that region.

  4. If the work is outside of a geographical region where you have exclusive representation, it’s ok to play favorites and pick the agent who you have the best relationship with.

  5. Bringing an agent into a job will help improve your relationships and could even help you land an agent you’ve been wanting to sign with.


Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

Check out Union Information Here!
A Great Group of Agents Fighting for Fair Rates VO Agent Alliance
FAQ’s on Union Agencies: SAG Aftra Agency Info

Transcript

VO: Today’s voiceover talent is more than just a pretty voice, today’s voiceover talent has to be a boss, a VO BOSS Set yourself up with business owner strategies and success, with your host, Anne Ganguzza. Along with some of the strongest voices in our industry, rock your business, like a boss! A VOBOSS. Anne: Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast, I’m your host Anne Ganguzza, with my amazing cohost, Gabby Nistico, hey Gabby. Gabby: Hey girl, hey. Anne: So Gabby, today we have a really great question from one of our faithful listeners, so I’d like to actually first of all thank you all for listening and supporting us, and I would like to encourage more people to send us your questions, because we love to talk, and we love to discuss these things and so I would… Gabby: Duh! Anne: I would love to have more questions from you guys. So, feel free to submit any questions that you want us to answer to info at VO Boss dot com. Gabby, what’s the question? Gabby: So this is great. So, Monica Gruber, I love this girl, I follow her. We follow each other, I guess on social media. She is a little dollbaby out of Atlanta, and former radio chickee-poo like myself, and so she sent me this absolutely adorable message. And said, “so, if you don’t mind humoring me, I have a question.” I will humor you any day, honeybun. Anne: Aw. Gabby: This is so cute. Anne: Love that. Gabby: She said – I love this chick – she’s awesome, and, you know this is yeah, we definitely want to hear from you guys, often. This is great and this is part of why we do this, it’s not just for us to sit here and talk to ourselves, we want to talk to you! Anne: So true. Gabby: So, not that I don’t love talking to Anne. Anne: But I love talking to you too, Gabby. Gabby: I know, I know we do. We can talk, we know that. Anne: That’s for sure. Gabby: Alright, so, Monica said “I have been throwing myself into casting site research and submissions.” Always a smart idea. And she said she had a director ask her if she has an agent, and she responded, “Well, I have four.” She said “My question is how do I handle this? First of all, why do they need my agent to begin with? Second, how do I pick which one to offer up? And third, do I have to volunteer someone as tribute to begin with? Is there any way around this?” I thought this was a fabulous question, very topical. Especially with everyone’s efforts now, I think, collectively in the voiceover industry to start moving a bit away from pay-to-play and more into their own efforts. Anne: For sure, for sure, great question. Gabby: Yeah, let’s break this sucker down. Anne: Well first of all, congratulations on the gig. Gabby: Right? Anne: That’s always wonderful. And, it was a direct inquiry, I’m assuming. Gabby: Mmmhmm. Anne: Which is why she got a response. Gabby: Yep. Anne: Which I think is fantastic, and Gabby, remind me later on, we gotta talk about that because we’ve got a really cool thing that’s gonna be happening on VO BOSS that we want to tell you guys about. Gabby: Ooh, yeah, we do. Anne: Yeah. Gabby: We sure do. Anne: So, yeah so I’m gonna say congratulations for first of all going out and having the fortitude to get, you know, to find your contact and submit to your contact. Gabby: Yeah. Anne: And get a response, that’s number one fantastic. Gabby: Yeah. Anne: I love that. Gabby: Monica gets the gold star for the day, there’s absolutely no doubt there. Anne: There’s no reason why any of us cannot do that, there’s no waiting around for gigs. I mean I’m always one to hustle and, you know, go out, find your own network, find your own contacts, go out and just sell yourself. Gabby: Mmmhmm. Anne: And so for that I’m just, I love that, I love that as an example. So, Gabby, what are your thoughts about the question in terms of how should she respond, in terms of does she have an agent number one? Gabby: So, I’m gonna I guess kind of answer the question in reverse. My first inclination here, and this is as someone who has a multitude of agents myself, not that I don’t love them, not that I don’t respect and appreciate them, but, my first inclination if a client is trying to directly work with me, negotiate with me, I want that inquiry to be direct. I’m going to circumvent the agent process if I can. Now, there are exceptions and there are times when I would definitely want to bring one of my agents into the conversation, but initially, I’m going to prompt that client to work with me direct and to speak with me about their needs, and see if I can’t get the ball rolling. Anne: Right, I think that’s fantastic. First of all assess what the needs of the client is. Gabby: Mmmhmm, yeah. Anne: And absolutely, if you did all of the footwork to go out and get that gig, then I agree with you Gabby, I think that, you know, trying to deal with it directly is super. And I’m wondering why they were interested in if she had and agent, if they were probably thinking that that agent would be the negotiator. And, as you and I know, and with all of our talks about negotiation, both of us, I think, are big proponents of being able to negotiate your own contracts. Gabby: Yes. Anne: So, I would say if you feel comfortable with negotiating directly with your client, I would absolutely do that myself. Gabby: Go for it. Anne: I would be, yeah go for it. I would do that. But if you’re not comfortable with negotiating, then you might want to consider, you know, putting that toward one of your agents. Gabby: Mmmhmm, yeah. Anne: And bringing an agent into the deal. And, now the question is which one? Gabby: Aha. Anne: Which is a good one, yeah. Gabby: One of the things to consider here, too, and I know this because she’s in the Atlanta market, Atlanta area, it is possible, maybe just maybe, that this client was inquiring about her agent because it’s a union booking. Anne: Mmmhmm. Gabby: Or because they have a union contract, which is fine, and if that’s the case that certainly gives you a little bit more reason to bring your agent into the deal. Anne: Yes. Gabby: Again, it’s not always essential, I know a lot of union voice actors who will negotiate direct, you don’t have to go through your agent for a union booking. But, because that does bring a lot of extras and a lot of intricacies to the table, you may choose to. Anne: Some of the pros of bringing an agent in on it, if you decide to, if you don’t feel comfortable, if the deal is for, you know, an extremely complex national campaign. Gabby: Mmmhmm. Anne: Or local or regional campaign that’s in certain areas for a certain amount of time, and all of that stuff makes you kind of like dizzy, I think that then might be the time to bring in an agent if you have an agent in that same area. It might behoove you to bring in the agent because that way you’re showing good faith towards the agent in including them. Gabby: Yes. Anne: And it also might make them want to include you more in auditions or short lists or however it is. It’s just, it’s always good practice to have a good relationship with your agent. Gabby: Yeah. Anne: And that’s certainly not gonna hurt your relationship with your agent. Gabby: Not at all, there’s a lot of strategic reasons why you would choose to bring a job to an agent, and I have done that in the past. No prompting from the client. Anne: Mmmhmm. Gabby: Literally my own volition just looking at the scope of a job and saying you know, I’m going to direct you to my rep on this. Anne: Absolutely. Gabby: And handing it over. And there is one really great tactic for doing that, especially if your agent relationship is kind of new. It’s a very good way to cement that relationship. Anne: Oh, absolutely. Gabby: And develop that good faith. Anne: Mmmhmm. Gabby: Because you’re bringing something directly to them, they love that, why wouldn’t they? Anne: And here’s another strategy, and I’ve actually known a few people that have done this. If you wanted to be repped by a particular agent, and you had this deal that you, you know, thought was a little big bigger than you could handle, I don’t see anything wrong with approaching an agent that you want to be represented by and ask them, say hey, look, I have a client here who has this job, and I was wondering if you would like to step in and help me negotiate that. What a great way to kind of build a relationship. Gabby: Totally. Anne: With somebody that wanted to get on the roster, and I do that think that that agent will not like take you on their roster after that. Give it to them on a plate, I mean that’s amazing. Gabby: Yeah. Anne: Way to create yeah, way to create a great relationship and get yourself on a roster that you’ve been wanting to be on, great way to introduce yourself. Gabby: No agent will turn that down. Anne: Yeah. Gabby: No one is gonna say no. Anne: So true, I don’t know one agent that will turn it down, unless… Gabby: No! Anne: Unless they’ve dealt with a company before and had a negative experience. Gabby: Nah. Anne: But I’ve never heard of that. Gabby: Me neither, I mean I think in that particular scenario that you just laid out, any agent, even if at the end of it all they still don’t really have an interest in working with you, they’ll still gladly negotiate that job and put it through their system, because they’re equipped to do that. Anne: Absolutely. Gabby: So, you just brought them extra business, it’s great. Anne: Well I honestly, I can’t imagine not even if you’re not like put front and center on their website and on their roster, I know a lot of people who, not a lot, know a few people that have done this, that are on the roster and will get auditions. They’ll get audition opportunities, and really, you know. Gabby: It’s a trial run. Anne: That’s what it’s about, exactly, they’ll get put on that trial run immediately, and who doesn’t want audition opportunities? Gabby: Right. Anne: Especially, you know, through an agent that you’ve always wanted to be a part of. So, I really don’t see anything wrong with that. And again, going back to if you feel comfortable negotiating, and if the client’s needs are something that you feel that you can handle, you know, absolutely I say go for it. It’s gonna be a wonderful, wonderful learning experience for you, so that you’ll feel more comfortable in the future. And I’m one of the biggest cheerleaders for people doing negotiations themselves. It’s just, it can help you in so many ways to be more confident in dealing with any client that might come your way. Gabby: So now, let’s look at the other scenario of this. Which is, if you choose not to negotiate this yourself, you have a couple of reps that you could easily send this to. Who do you send it to? Who do you select? Are there rules here, are there proper engagement processes? What’s the deal? Anne: Well, that’s an excellent question. And I am going to say, if the job is going to be possibly recorded in the studio or recorded somewhere that might be local to an agent, I would sway myself toward maybe selecting that agent. Gabby: Yeah. Anne: In handling it for me, because just if it’s in the area, but let’s say it’s not, Gabby, what would you do if it wasn’t in the area of any of your agents? Gabby: I think geography and the contract that you sign with your agents is very important, and I do honor those. Anne: Mmmhmm. Gabby: And I think they are a guidepost, and again it shows good faith towards the relationship. Anne: Yes. Gabby: So if you’ve signed a contract with an agent in a specific geography and it covers that geographic territory, and this client in Monica’s case falls into the geographic guidelines of that particular agent, then that really is who should receive the phone call. Anne: That would be my choice too, absolutely. Gabby: Yes. Now, in many cases, and I know this is true for a lot of my reps currently and I think Anne, you have a few like this, I think most people have a couple of these right now. There’s a lot of agencies that are signing people without exclusivities. Anne: Mmmhmm. Gabby: With no geographic boundaries, it’s kind of a little loose, and the relationship is acting a little bit more like a casting director would. Anne: Sure. Gabby: Than a traditional agency. Anne: Yeah, hmm. Gabby: So, if that’s the case, and let’s say the person falls under that geography, but you don’t have that sort of a contract, well, I mean is there anything wrong with telling favorites at that point? Anne: Well, exactly, that’s an excellent point. That’s what I’m gonna say. Gabby: Yeah. Anne: And agencies now, you know they’ve changed in the last couple of years. Gabby: A lot. Anne: For sure, a lot, especially because of the state of the industry. And those that are not asking exclusivity, there’s a reason for that. And number one, you have to understand the industry the way it is now, it’s tough. It’s tough to be an agent. Gabby: Yeah. Anne: You know, it’s just with all of everything kind of coming on, you know digitally, pay to plays and all these things. Gabby: Just online casting in general, yeah. Anne: Online casting in general has really kind of thrown agents for a loop. And in reality you have to understand that the more you include them in on a potential job or gig that you’re going to do, first of all the more appreciative they’re going to be, and it helps them. I mean we’re all a business, right, there are businesses to help you get a business. And so, working together, you’re partners in that. And so I think that if you still consider an agent to be your partner, and if you approach the business like that, that is gonna really reap rewards in a multitude of ways for you, number one. In terms of, you know, whose audition might they listen a little bit sooner to, you know what I mean? If you’re going to generate that good will and that good relationship with them. Gabby: Mmmhmm. Anne: And, you know, you might get an extra audition, who knows in reality? Because you’ve been helpful to them, they want to be helpful to you. So, I think that it always is a good thing to just be in a good relationship with your agents so that you can reap rewards that will help your business and help them to help their business. Gabby: Well and there’s another part to that, too. What you just said about, you know maybe you get an extra audition out of it. Anne: Mmmhmm. Gabby: Maybe there’s some piece of good will that comes from the agent. I can tell you guys this firsthand from my time in the casting world. There are plenty of times that talent agents get a client who they’ve worked with for years and they just say go ahead and pick, you choose. Anne: Mmmhmm, mmmhmm. Gabby: I trust you, or I don’t have any real specification right now in what I’m looking for, just get me a pro. And the agent has the ability to just pick a name. Anne: Yeah, that’s great. Gabby: Well, obviously. Anne: Yeah. Gabby: You know, somebody who’s greased the wheels of that relationship a little is gonna have a better chance of booking that. Anne: Absolutely. Gabby: The other thing too is that this is a two way street. Anne: Mmmhmm. Gabby: Everything Anne just said about those relations you know, it has to be in kind. You should feel a good warm and fuzzy from your agents, you should feel that they’re working hard for you, you should feel that you have good communication with them and from them, and you know I hate to say it, but again, the way the industry’s changing and moving, if you have an agent and you’re on their roster but they don’t communicate with you very often, you don’t hear from them a lot, they don’t r