Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Professional Relationship of Agent and Client

Let's muse about the professional relationships we need to develop.

Let's start with the artist/agent relationship.

This is a two-way street.  Responsibility and commitment must come from BOTH sides for this relationship to work in a healthy way.

Simply,  the artist/agent relationship is about respect for what both brings to the table.  The artist brings the talent to the table, the agent sells the talent.

Ultimately this professional relationship needs the same things as any responsible and mature relationship needs.  It needs honesty,  frankness,  recognition of what the other is there to DO,  communication,  respect of boundaries and knowledge of what the deal breakers are for that relationship.

If any of these things breaks down, or is ignored, the relationship ceases to exist and no one is happy and work can't get done.  If a client/artist is not respecting the relationship or if the agent is not respecting the relationship, then the business relationship needs to be severed and each must move on.

Artists, do you know what an agent does?  Agents, do you see your artist for what they are?

Do you communicate?  Do you take the time to LISTEN to each other?  Do you actually HEAR each other?

Agents do you understand artist-speak?  And artists, do you understand agent-speak?

Both artist and agent need to understand they represent opposite sides.  However, an agent can't make a living if he/she doesn't have working clients, and an artist who wants to work in this business, needs representation to function fully within those business boundaries.

Recognizing there is information BEYOND YOURSELF is key.  RESPECTING that knowledge even if you don't always understand it, is crucial to allow yourself a chance to communicate in this relationship.

If you truly want a solid working relationship, each side of the table needs to sit down, and communicate!  Each side needs to know what the other brings, and DISCUSS it.  What does the artist bring?  How can the agent sell that?  Is the artist pliable?  How pliable?  What are your negotiables and what are absolutely NOT?

Being a "pleaser" client isn't helpful either.  Saying "yes" to everything doesn't give your agent a stance they can deliver from.  Being a "promiser" agent is another red flag.

Agents, are you being realistic or are you selling out?  Are you making excuses or are you really willing to go to bat for your client and sell what they represent?

Are you willing to SEE your client before you put them in a box?

Artists, are you willing to recognize there are boxes, and so you must use your business head to come to terms with how you are seen?  And then, instead of just accepting it, keep challenging it and growing?

If this mutual respect does not continue, the relationship suffers.

Sometimes, like any other relationship, it's just time to move on.  So do.  It doesn't need to be messy.  If a client isn't working out, or if an agent isn't seeing you and creating opportunities for you as an artist in a way that you want to be seen,  a simply severing is due.

It does not need to be a nasty divorce!  A simple parting of the ways/time to move on/change of direction is in order.  No need for the professional relationship of agent/client-artist to get rude.

We all can outgrow our needs and have other needs.  If the person in that relationship no longer is willing to see you where you are and respect those needs,  then that relationship is no longer healthy and it's time to move on.

Walking into an agent meeting demands YOU the artist to have your needs and desires straight and clear.  Anything wishy-washy is a waste of time.  In business, time is money.  Don't waste either.  You don't want your time wasted, so don't hesitate and hum and uhm when you get a chance to meet with an agent.  Know WHY you are there.

Agents worth your time will spend time with you.  They will want to meet you.  They will not dismiss you or your time.   They will want to know how you see yourself,  and they will TALK with you.

You the artist, must be open to possibilities, and perhaps ideas you hadn't thought of.  Know how you see yourself, what you bring to the business, where you see yourself, what you see your path to be.

"I don't know" means "I'm not ready for an agent."

Dismissals out of hand mean no real sight - so run.

If an agent says "if you'd lose 20 pounds then I could get you work" or "If you were taller I could get you work"  without any regard to your talent or what you represent, isn't a relationship you need to enter into.

Clients who think an agent will make them a star, or who are needy and put a personal spin on a professional relationship need a reality check,  and a shrink, not an agent.

If you both take your work seriously, and spend the time to discover what the relationship needs to work, then it has the possibility to work and thus the two of you will work!

Agents don't get you work.  They get you possibilities.  Those possibilities only become work if you book the job.  Your talent gets you work.

If the agent doesn't know what your talent does,  they cannot send you to the right possibilities.  If they refuse to SEE you and develop that,  the relationship will fail.

If the artist does not follow through with the auditions, the follow up, the relationship will fail.

The relationship only thrives when both parties are AWARE and willing to see what the other brings.

It seems so simple, yet it can be extremely complex.

I would like to suggest some to you:

abuse = deal breaker.  Verbal, emotional, whatever - abuse is abuse.  Done. From EITHER side.

dismissal of needs = deal breaker.  If an agent says "please do not contact me in the mornings/please only email me once and I will get back to you" et al and you disregard that, they may break the relationship.

inability to communicate = deal breaker.  If an agent cannot see the artist and what they do well, they cannot represent them.  If you can't talk about it and come to a decision, then the relationship is over.

You cannot be represented fully/properly/honestly by someone who does not see what you do well, and does not lead with your strengths.

Excuses = deal breaker.

Accusations = deal breaker.

Disrespect = deal breaker.

The professional relationship of agent/artist needs an element of honesty and a willingness to work TOGETHER, not to make decisions without consulting the other.

If this honesty doesn't exist, the relationship cannot flourish.

If an artist has been upfront with what they do, how they want to be seen, and the agent has consented and then does something completely different, then that relationship isn't working and it's time to move on.

Agents are there to liaison with the business.  They are to work for the client.  Yet, the client is responsible to continue their artistic growth,  follow up on their auditions and their efforts in performance, and to remind the agent what they need.

Agents need to continue to recognize what that artist needs.

If these things are neglected or worse, ignored or dismissed, this relationship will NEVER work.

If it's not working anymore,  earn your way out.  Don't stay in a relationship cause you think you should.  Know what your needs are!  Know what you are looking for with an agent.  Do your research and begin to find out if what you bring to the table is something an agent is willing to represent.

Professional relationships are still relationships.  They are not in stone and will change over time.  It's okay.

Know where you are and why you are there!

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