What Do They Do?
Do I Need One?
There are two kinds of managers in the industry: personal managers (day-to-day management of an artist’s career) and business managers (usually an accountant who handles financial dealings). We are talking about personal managers here. In general, managers should have a more direct and frequent communication with talent. They are, in effect, the marketing department of your child’s business, while the agent is the salesperson that closes the deal. Managers should have a more long term view of their client’s career—they develop the whole package.
In California, New York and most other states with agent licensing laws, a manager can not procure employment unless under the direction of a licensed agent. This means you MUST have an agent, or the manager must be at least “covered” by a licensed agent. A manager working alone cannot get you work. Sometimes, managers get around this issue by obtaining an agency license, but operating their business as manager. A manager can:
- help a client get an agent
- network with industry professionals
- advise clients on things like photographers, classes, their “look”, etc.
- communicate with an agent about issues concerning their clients
- call casting and producers – “pitch”
- sometimes request feedback from an audition
- help a parent with directions (occasionally)
- provide more focused information specific to their clients
- act as a mediator for on-set issues with producers
Some managers do other activities, such as produce films, handle fan mail and publicity, coach clients for auditions and other duties. Every manager is different, so make sure you understand what they will do for you before you sign on the dotted line!
Managers will represent far fewer clients than an agent. Because they are attempting to build and guide a career they give much more personal attention. A manager should not ever represent a direct competitor as that is a huge conflict of interest. Managers in New York are fundamental in fielding the various calls from agents who are freelancing clients. Managers in California usually communicate directly with the agent and relay information/appointments to their clients.
Because managers are looking at the “developmental”aspects of a performer, they almost always sign contracts right away and for a 3 year period of time. Managers are not licensed, with the exception of California where a CPS permit is required. Do not EVER utilize a manager that does not have this permit.
There are professional manager organizations which dictate a code of ethics for their members. There are no job qualifications for managers—anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves a “manager”, which means scammers are drawn to this profession. Be careful!
Typically, managers do not charge up front fees (this is highly frowned upon, and is illegal in California), and the standard commission for a kid-focussed manager is 10-15%. Managers cannot legally procure work, so this is in addition to your agent’s percentage! That additional percentage often means a manager can tip your financial balance sheet into the red, should your child become successful. A management contract is probably one of the most binding and important legal contracts a parent will sign in their lifetime. It can have serious repercussions and should NOT be entered into lightly. Read Berg v. Traylor for more on the legal implications of manager contracts.
One cautionary note: Since managers are not highly regulated, there is a great amount of room for scammers and predators. Be wary of a manager who gets too close to your child, or who exhibits too many red flags. See Safety—Questionable Behaviors. Trust your instincts.