“We want to represent you.” Congratulations! Now the hard work begins. Time to put your enthusiasm aside and become a businesswoman.
Before you agree to be represented by any agency, it’s critical to take the time to understand the terms of the relationship, particularly if you are being asked to sign a contract. While this article will not offer legal advice, it will provide key points to look out for before you decide to sign.
The first agency you ever work with will most likely become your mother agency. A mother agent is the agency who invests the time (and money) to develop you into a working model, represents you to clients for bookings, and eventually promotes you to other agencies for representation in other markets. They will want partial (if not full) control over your career including the photos in your portfolio, what agencies you sign with in other markets, what path your career takes and what color your hair will be.
The contract: before you sign
Most mother agents will present new models with a contract. Do yourself a favor and make sure you take the time to read and understand what you are signing. I cannot tell you how many times I would hand a contract to a new model and she would just sign it without reading it let alone taking adequate time to ensure she understood the terms. Don’t ever let an agency bully or pressure you into signing a contract on the spot!
- Be sure you understand commission percentages, charge backs, contract duration and your rights and responsibilities as a model under contract. You also must have a clear understanding (in writing) about how to terminate your contract and how the contract renews.
- Please be sure to ask about representation in other markets. Most mother agents will want to have a say if not outright control over who else you are signed with and it could very well be a part of your contract. The reason? Your mother agent is paid a percentage of your commissions from the agencies they place you with.
- Is your new agency part of a network? If this agency is part of a network with locations in multiple cities, they will most likely want to keep you within that network. Find out if the contract covers only the location in your home city or if it binds you to the entire network. Some network agencies are weaker in other markets and there might be a better option for you out there.
- Ask yourself if you are comfortable with this agency. Do you want to talk with other agencies before committing? Do you feel confident that this agency is excited enough about you to invest the time in your career? Your mother agency can make or break your career, so be sure you have enough information to make the best decision you can.
- Anything you don’t like or aren’t comfortable with in the contract, ask if you can propose amendments. Just know that some agencies have a “take it or leave it” attitude and may not agree to any changes. At this point, you need to decide if you are comfortable proceeding as is.
- If you can, it’s never a bad idea to have an attorney review your contract. While it isn’t cheap, it is cheaper than having to hire an attorney to get you out of a bad contract. At the very least you should ask to take the document home so that you can concentrate on the language and ensure you understand everything. Once you’ve had time to review, sit with an agent and review things you don’t understand and ask questions on the spot.