Post by Lady Stardust ★ on Nov 13, 2018 3:22:42 GMT -8
In every actor's career, there comes a point where they decide it's time for them to get an agent. But how exactly does one submit to an agency...or know if they're even ready to do so?
The role of a VO agent
When many higher-profile ad buyers, producers and casting directors are looking to cast actors for their new animated series, commercial or video game, they'll go to a handful of agencies with audition breakdowns. The agents will then send the auditions out to the talent on their roster, from which they will often choose a curated selection of submissions to send back. In addition to helping the actors on their roster get access to various auditions, agents may assist with negotiating the rates and terms for a job as well as helping to keep track of the actor's schedule and availability. An agent will also sometimes be able to "pitch" talent on their roster for specific roles or opportunities. Some agents are more hands-on and invested in helping manage the careers of the actors they work with, whereas others are more hands-off and simply pass along the opportunities they get from their buyers. But either way, the agent will function as the middleman between the actor and the clients, and ensure the actor gets paid for the work.
A word of caution
Many people feel that if they can just get an agent, that'll be it. They're set. They "got discovered". Now, while having an agent can certainly open doors for you in the frequency and caliber of projects you get to audition for, keep in mind that YOU are the one responsible for your career success in the end, and having an agent isn't a magic key to making work fall in your lap. There's a saying around the industry that goes "An agent gets 10% of your pay because they do 10% of the work." What that means is that having an agent won't exempt you from continuing to work hard---your agent will still be expecting you to be turn in high-quality submissions on time and according to instructions, and be constantly working towards leveling up your career (such as periodically taking classes or casting director workshops, staying on top of industry trends, having a solid home studio, and updating your reels when necessary.) You'll only get out of the relationship what you put into it!
Only one branch off the main road
Unless you're an in-demand celebrity and can rely solely on your agent for job opportunities, your agency is only going to be one particular source of auditions for you. You will likely become miserable if you sit around waiting for them to send you out on auditions without having anything else in the pipeline from connections you've made elsewhere. Also, keep in mind that certain types of projects (such as anime, JRPGs, and lower-budget mobile games) tend to hire actors directly, so you won't necessarily be able to rely on your agent for those particular types of opportunities if that's something you want to do. But an agent will often have access to the higher-budget (and often union) jobs for major brands and clients, which can allow you opportunities to read on projects you wouldn't be able to otherwise. For example, network animated television shows and AAA video games almost exclusively cast through agencies in many circumstances. Keep in mind these projects are extremely competitive and are often sent to multiple different agencies, so don't feel discouraged if you finally sign with an agent but don't manage to book anything for a while.
Keep in mind that agencies are EXTREMELY competitive.
The Internet has made information on voice acting far more accessible over the years, with more and more new talent popping up hoping to make this a viable career path. While some people may "get lucky" and get signed early in their careers, for many actors, the agent hunt can be long, arduous, and even discouraging. Not getting any bites from agencies doesn't mean you're a bad actor, it may simply mean that they don't have a particular need for your voice/archetype on their roster at the moment. But if you happen to fill a niche that the agency needs at the moment (for example: you're bilingual, you have a certain read style that's requested a lot in casting breakdowns, you have a unique voice print, or a specific ethnic background that they're seeing more of a need for in character specs), this can work in your favor.
Do I NEED an agent?
It is not imperative to sign with an agency, at least in the US market, when you are still early in your career. Many actors can and do book plenty of work on their own---there are even actors who manage to work full-time despite never having had an agent! Direct marketing and cold submissions can net you plenty of opportunities if you are a solid actor with a good recording setup who is also a savvy businessperson. That being said, there will be a point in your career where you may feel you have exhausted the avenues of work that are available to you, and need to take things to the next level. For example, if your long-term goal is to be a series regular on a Cartoon Network show, it is highly unlikely that you'll be able to access those auditions on your own (short of having a direct connection to a show creator). But if you're with an agency who regularly gets those breakdowns, there's a good chance you'll at least get to read if a character comes up that you might be right for.
How do I know if I'm ready for an agent?
A good indicator of someone who is ready for an agent is an already working, self-driven, professional actor who has solid up-to-date materials, prior acting experience, and is looking to take their career to the next level. (In the age of the coronavirus pandemic, a broadcast-quality home studio can make-or-break the deal as well.) Ideally, you should also have a good idea of what YOU bring to the table as an actor and what niche you might be able to fill on the agency's roster.
A VO coach you work with or an industry mentor may be able to give you feedback as to whether or not they think you are ready to start submitting.
A VO coach you work with or an industry mentor may be able to give you feedback as to whether or not they think you are ready to start submitting.
You are probably NOT ready to submit to agencies if...
- You are still more of an amateur/hobbyist voice actor rather than a serious professional. Let's be clear in saying that there is absolutely no shame in being a hobbyist. Some people do hobbyist work for years and eventually go pro, whereas others are simply content doing VO for fun as a side gig. But if you're not seriously devoted to pursuing VO as your career, an agent won't want to waste time putting someone on their roster who isn't competitive yet.
- You don't have a professional-sounding demo reel. A voice actor expecting to get an agent meeting without a demo reel would be like a film actor expecting to get an agent meeting without a headshot! Most agencies will want to review your reel and resume before even considering bringing you in the door for a meeting...plus, not having a reel on hand gives off the impression that you're not serious enough about your craft to have what's considered one of the most basic tools in your arsenal. Ideally, you should have both a character reel and a commercial reel. They should be professionally produced if possible, especially if you're submitting to a major agency such as one within the Los Angeles market. There are some people who have managed to get agent meetings or even get signed with self-made reels, but if you are submitting a self-made reel, it better be good enough to be virtually indistinguishable from a professionally produced reel. (For example, a homemade demo consisting of cartoon character impressions would not be considered appropriate.)
- You don't have any experience yet. The tired old movie trope of a Hollywood agent discovering a random person and saying "I'm going to make you a star!" isn't really accurate to the real world---agents are concerned about their bottom line, and it may sound harsh, but they're not here to "help you achieve your dreams"---they're here for you to help them make money, and if they don't think someone has a good potential to make them money, they probably won't take them on as a client. Therefore, even agents willing to take on "developmental talent" still tend to be looking for trained actors who already have a good idea of what they're doing.
- You don't have solid commercial reads, or don't want to audition for commercials. Going into an agent meeting and saying "I'm not really interested in doing commercial work" is pretty much a death sentence! For agents, commercials are their bread and butter---it's usually what will make you (and therefore, them) the most money. It's also the majority of the work a lot of the agencies get, especially in markets outside of Los Angeles. For every piece of animation or video game copy that comes across their desk, they might have 20 or more pieces of commercial copy! It's understandable that character work is considered a goal of many people as it tends to be more fun and has much more potential for notoriety, but the paychecks are in those big commercial spots (especially union ones that pay for usage), so if you want to get signed with an agency, your commercial reads should be on point as that's many of the auditions that will be coming your way. If you don't have any commercial VO experience, consider at least taking a commercial class before doing agency meetings.
- You aren't able to work on short deadlines, or have very limited schedule availability. Many agencies expect next-day turnaround on auditions (though some will have a longer deadline). It's not uncommon, for example, for an agent to send out an audition at 5:00 pm that's due at 9:00 am the next morning. Sometimes auditions will even be same-day turnaround, though agents are generally understanding if you have to pass on those because you're not at home or you're in another session at the time. Additionally, while plenty of actors still manage to have an agent while working a day job, if you have a full-time 9-5 office job that you can't easily take time off from---or if you frequently go out of town for long periods of time with no way to record remotely---this can cause an issue when your agents need to schedule you for bookings. Be up front in any agent meeting if you have major limitations when it comes to availability for jobs and auditions.
- You don't have a reliable way to record from home. Prior to the pandemic, a home studio wasn't typically a necessity, at least if you lived in a major market. Many actors would go in-person to their agencies to record auditions, or record from whatever microphone they happened to have around (sometimes even from their phones!) If they booked a job, the recording would almost always be done at a studio, and if the talent lived out-of-town then they would either fly in or the client would book a studio that was local to them. But starting in 2020, having a proper home recording space and setup became not only incredibly important, but often a non-negotiable standard. Some agencies, particularly those that handle a lot of commercial work, may even insist that the talent have SourceConnect Standard in their home booths. While there may be a bit of flexibility if you live in a major VO market (such as Los Angeles) and are always able to come in studio, you'll at least be expected to be able to record auditions from home, especially considering auditions these days are often quick-turnaround.
Do your research and choose an agency that's fitting for you.
When actors look for their first agent, they often fall into one of two mindsets. Either they want an agent so badly they'll take the first agent to say yes to their submissions, or they'll be dead set on one of the very top agencies in the market and might pass up other opportunities in hopes of getting their dream agent. A good way to start is to make a list of three to five agencies you think would be a good fit for you and start there with your submissions, then cast a wider net if nothing comes out of those.
Remember to be realistic. Everyone wants to be with one of the top agencies in the country, but the flip side is that even if you get signed to one of these prestigious agencies, you might end up getting lost on their roster or "put on the back burner" in comparison to their heavy hitters. Starting with a smaller boutique agency might actually allow you more opportunities to get your name out there, and you can always attempt to apply to a bigger agency later once your contract period is up and you've got some experience. If you're not sure if you're aiming too high by submitting to a very prestigious agency, you can always look up who they have on your current roster and evaluate whether or not you believe you're as competitive as a lot of the others they already have signed. (Also keep in mind that agencies often don't want to sign too many people in the same category, so if they've got several people on their roster who already sound a LOT like you, they might pass you up because they don't want their clients competing against each other too much.)
Don't discount the idea of regional agencies, especially if you're still relatively new. If you're based in the United States, it's easy to look exclusively at Los Angeles agencies as they often have access to the best auditions. But if your goal is to take your career to the next level and get more opportunities, remember that agencies exist all over the country and even the world. While you may not get as many auditions for cartoons or games with say, a Chicago or Atlanta agent as you would with an LA agent, you'd at least be seeing commercial and industrial opportunities that you probably wouldn't get elsewhere.
Don't put all your eggs in one basket, either. It doesn't hurt to submit to multiple agencies at once and see if you get any bites, because things are extremely competitive right now and it's best to spread a wide net. If multiple agencies in the same market happen to get back to you, take meetings with both of them, let them know that you're deciding between a couple of options for representation right now, and go with the offer you feel will serve you best (but don't wait too long, or they may lose interest.)
There are three main ways to get seen by an agent:
- Referrals. Having a referral from one of their current clients, a voice director or casting director, a VO coach or teacher, or another prominent person in the industry is worth its weight in gold and probably your best chance of getting seen. It's okay to let your friends and colleagues know you're looking, but don't ask someone directly to walk you in---it puts them on the spot and can also create an awkward situation if they don't think you're quite ready yet or that you'd be a good fit. If someone you know is with an agent you'd really like to be with as well, you can say "Hey, I noticed you're signed with X. How do you like it there so far? Do you have any tips on how I could go about getting a meeting?" In some cases they might even offer to walk you in, but otherwise, it won't put them in an awkward spot.
- Agent showcase nights. In major markets such as LA, they may have "Meet the Agent Nights" (though these are often done over Zoom now!) With these, you pay a fee to attend sort of a "showcase" where you read a couple pieces of copy for the agent being featured that night. They'll give you a bit of feedback on your reads and if they like you or have a need for you on their roster, they may end up connecting with you later (or it'll help them put a face/voice to your name if you cold-submit to them later.) It IS a bit of a gamble as you might never hear from them after, and it's true that you're essentially paying to be seen by them, but at the same time it's a guaranteed chance to read for them and people can and do get signed sometimes after making connections at these events.
- Cold submissions. This means you send an email to the agency with a short "pitch" introducing yourself, briefly discussing your experience and why you'd like to be considered for representation, along with a link to your materials. Some agencies don't take unsolicited submissions, but many do. It can be harder to get seen this way as they receive many submissions a day, but it's always worth a shot. Please see below for tips on cold submitting.
When submitting yourself to an agency...
- Always follow their submission protocol. Many agencies will have a "submissions" page which details what actors need to do if they are interested in submitting. (If they don't, you can use whatever e-mail address they list on the main page of their site, but always check first to see if there is a specific e-mail or form for submissions.) Note that submissions these days are almost always done digitally. NEVER MAKE UNSOLICITED PHONE-CALLS OR ESPECIALLY WALK-INS in hopes of getting representation, unless you are explicitly requested to do so. This is considered highly unprofessional at most agencies and may result in not being considered for a meeting.
- Make sure you qualify to submit. If they say "referrals only" or "no unsolicited submissions", you'll need to pass this one up unless you have someone who offers to walk you in. If you don't live in the same market as the agency you're submitting to, make sure they don't specify "local talent only". Sometimes agencies may ONLY be looking for certain demographics that they need to fill more of on their roster at the moment, so if this is noted, don't submit if you don't fit.
- If you already have an agent elsewhere, be aware of your exclusivity. You can't be repped by more than one agent in the same market, but it usually goes by region. Just be sure you know what your exclusivity is---for example, if you have a Los Angeles agent, sometimes that means you could also have a San Francisco agent, but there's also a chance your LA agent might be exclusive to the entire state of California. If you're not sure of your exclusivity, check your contract.
- Write a proper "cover letter". Many of the points stated in our email etiquette guide will come into play here. Despite communication growing more casual overall these days, agencies still tend to be fairly corporate and as a result, you'll want to err on the side of formality. Make sure to personalize it a bit, too, and include a short note on why you'd like them to rep you. Sending out a generic form letter to a whole bunch of agencies will come across as "I just want an agent, any agent", which can be a turn-off.
- In your cover letter, try to focus on why YOU would be an asset to THEM, not the other way around. Agencies receive submissions from actors all the time who are hoping to get work, but you want to show them why representing you would be a great business decision for them. You can briefly mention your strengths with certain media or character types, names of major clients you've worked with, or any existing work that you'd be willing to bring to them if they signed you on.
- Make sure your website and IMDb are up to date. In addition to your reels of course, these are what agents tend to look at when evaluating whether or not you'd be a good fit. Your website should have your reels easily accessible, and your IMDb should accurately reflect your experience. Not having an IMDb yet isn't necessarily a deal-breaker, but if you don't have one you want to make sure your website and resume are solid.
- If you don't hear anything back within 3-6 months, you can go ahead and follow up to check if they received your materials, but avoid being too persistent. Chances are you won't hear back unless they're interested in meeting with you, so if you don't get a response, assume it's a "no." Do rest assured, however, that a "no" sometimes means "not right now". They might not have a need for you on their roster at this particular time, but things can change in a year or two so you can always try again then. Followups should only be done via email - never call the office to follow up on your application unless they specifically asked you to do so.
Beware of the following red flags:
- Charging a fee to be listed with them. There are some scam agencies out there that will immediately write back to cold submissions saying that they'd love to sign the actor (without even asking for a meeting!) But when something sounds too good to be true, it often is---these "agencies" will explain that in order to be on their roster, you have to pay a fee of some sort (they will usually try to find a legal loophole by claiming that the fee is to host your materials on their site, or to pay a "casting service" that they themselves happen to own). Unless they're asking you to subscribe to a legitimate casting site such as Backstage or Actor's Access (and even then, many agents are fine with the free accounts on those sites as it still allows them to submit you on jobs), chances are this is a scam and you should RUN. Asking actors to pay to have their demo reel listed on a site of the agency who is supposed to represent them for business is absolutely ludicrous---if anything, having your reel there helps THEM too as potential clients can go in and listen to everyone on their roster! An agent makes money when you make money (commission fees)---you should never pay someone upfront for the privilege of representing you.
- Insisting on commission from ALL your work, even the work they don't handle. If an agent handles a job for you in any way---whether scheduling, negotiating, or having your check sent to their office---then they are entitled to a commission from that work (usually 10%, though sometimes agencies that primarily do nonunion work will take 15% or even 20% from those jobs). However, if you have existing clients you already work with that you book on your own, and you can't or don't plan to send them through your agency, it's not fair of them to insist on a commission from that particular work since they aren't touching it. If you have, say, a high profile ad campaign or any type of union work, your agent will probably want you to run it through them, but most of the time they won't want to deal with the really low-budget stuff that you book independently. When you sign, you can always ask them what threshold of work they'd prefer to handle for you as it will vary based on the agency and market.
- Asking for worldwide exclusivity. Exclusivity is typically only restricted to a certain region or geographical market, so an actor might have a Los Angeles agent, a New York agent, and a Miami agent, for example. In some cases, if the agency has branches in more than one region (such as an LA branch and a New York branch), they'll want exclusive representation in both those regions. Some of the very top agencies in the US that are considered "national agencies" may also discourage regional representation. But if a relatively small agency is insisting they be your ONLY agent in the entire world... well, they better be one of the best agents out there! You don't want to be stuck not being allowed to have agents in other regions if this one ends up not sending many opportunities your way.
- Insisting you're not allowed to work on any project not sent by them. While this is incredibly rare, there have been reports of one or two "agencies" that insist on complete and total exclusivity, with their voice talent not allowed to work on any projects unless it's something procured by the agency. This is absolutely ludicrous. Again, your agency is only ONE source of auditions. While it's understandable for your agent to request that you take certain jobs to them (for example, union jobs, national commercial jobs, or jobs over a certain dollar amount), locking you out of working with your own independent clients is not doing you a favor, but rather hurting you from making a living. An agent may advise you not to take a certain job if they don't feel it would be within your best interest, but they shouldn't tell you that you can't.
- Insisting that you study with one specific person or get your reel produced with one specific person as a condition of signing. If an agent feels your materials need to be updated in order to be competitive, it's perfectly fine for them to make suggestions and recommend people whom they feel would be good choices to go to. But beware that if they heavily push a certain coach or demo producer and say you need to work with them in order to be considered, chances are someone's getting a kickback from referrals and things start getting a little shady, especially if that person's prices are exorbitant.
So you got a meeting! Now what?
If an agency is interested in you, they will likely want to meet with you for what is essentially an interview. These used to be done in-person at the office, but nowadays it's usually via phone call or video chat. Keep in mind the following tips to ensure your meeting goes smoothly:
- Arrive on time. This is pretty much a no-brainer, but agents are very busy people and rushing in the door late (or signing onto that Zoom meeting five minutes late because you misplaced the link) creates a bad first impression and makes you seem disrespectful of their time. Plus, you want to show right off the bat that you have good work ethic! If you are doing an in-person meeting, make sure to allow extra time to plan out your route and deal with traffic and parking. If it's remote, make sure that your computer and webcam are set up and ready to go ahead of time, any computer updates are already taken care of, and that your Internet connection is stable.
- Be prepared. While you don't need to meticulously rehearse your answers (be yourself!), be aware of what questions the agents may have for you so that you're not caught off-guard trying to come up with something. They may ask you a bit about your past experience and/or training, what your strengths are, your home studio setup, union status, what your goals are for your career and what you're looking for in an agency partnership.
- Know your union status. Whether you're union, union-eligible, fi-core, or non-union, the agents will almost certainly ask you this because they need to know what types of projects they'd be able to pitch you for. While not being SAG-eligible yet may be a detriment to some of the bigger LA agencies, it's rarely a dealbreaker on its own (especially when it comes to smaller or regional agencies)---agents will understand that you can be Tafted if you get a union job. However, an agent may want to make sure that you're prepared to fork over that initiation fee if you become a "must-join" during your time with them.
- Have questions ready for them, too. If they ask "do you have any questions?" it's a great opportunity to be prepared rather than hemming and hawing. A good example of questions to ask could be things like the following: "What are some key qualities you look for in talent you represent? Is there any preferred protocol I should know for sending auditions? Do you expect us to submit on everything you send, or just the projects we think we fit? What does the typical audition spread look like between animation, games, and commercial?"
After the meeting
If they are interested, one of two things might happen: they'll either offer to sign you on the spot, or they'll request a trial period. A trial period is basically where they take you on for anywhere from a few months to a year to send you auditions to see how you do and determine whether or not the partnership would be a good fit. At the end of the trial period, they either offer to sign you officially, or say that they feel it's not going to work out. Some agencies may even offer a "freelance" situation where you're not officially signed with them, but they'll send you auditions and act as your point of contact for a job if needed. Either way, congratulate yourself for making it this far!
After getting signed
Congratulations! You made it through the biggest hurdle! Ensure things continue to go smoothly by keeping the following tips in mind:
- Submit consistently and on time. It's okay to pass on something here and there if you have a good reason---for example, if it's out of your vocal range, or an accent you can't do, or if you know you'll be out of town during the record dates. And of course, you're always able to pass on something that you're not comfortable with (such as a commercial for a brand that goes against your personal morals, or a show that contains explicit content.) But if you rarely bother to submit on auditions your agent sends you, it shows to them that you are not very invested and they may end up dropping you. Many agency auditions have very quick turnarounds, so do your best to submit on time and only ask for an extension if you really need it.
- Be aware of their audition protocol. For example...if they want you to slate a certain way, label and format your files a certain way, reply-all to emails or upload your audition to a web portal, it's good to be aware of that so it creates minimal hassle on their end. Usually such requests will be stated in the email, but if you're not sure, you can always ask for their preferences when you first get signed.
- Be easily reachable. As mentioned before, many auditions and other agent correspondence is very time-sensitive. Agents will be expecting you to check your email and voicemails regularly and get back to them ASAP. If you haven't already, sync your phone with the email account you use for business so that you can get an alert if something from your agent comes in.
- Let them know if you'll be unavailable for an extended period of time. If you submit on an audition, the client ends up wanting to book you, but it turns out you're on vacation the following week when they need to record...well, that's not a good situation. Auditions will often state estimated record dates---be up front with any days you're unavailable so they know not to pitch you on it if it turns out to be a problem. Your agency may have a protocol in place for submitting bookout dates, which is also a good thing to ask about when you first get signed.
- Don't bug them too much. Your agent is not your mom, your acting coach, or your BFF. Even if you end up getting to know each other over time, your relationship is primarily a business one, and your agent has many other clients besides you to tend to. While you can (and probably should) involve your agent when it comes to major career decisions, hitting them up about every little thing will end up becoming an annoyance. It's okay to check in once in a while to see if they have any general feedback on your reads or suggestions for people to study with, but most of the time an acting coach will be a better bet if you want to really work one-on-one with someone to improve your reads. You should also be willing to do your own research---an agent may be able to answer a specific question you have once in a while, but they won't have time to explain every step of the industry to you and will expect you to be informed on your own, especially if it's easily Google-able.
- Try not to immediately blame your agent for not sending you enough auditions. Not all projects are sent to all agencies, so just because your friend over at a different agency got certain sides doesn't necessarily mean your agent was even sent those sides in the first place. Additionally, keep in mind that they may only be sending certain auditions to a small handful of people on their roster based on who they think would be the strongest choices. Give it time, as well---there may be slow periods and some weeks can go by where you don't receive an audition. But if you know they're getting certain auditions that you're not being asked to read on, it doesn't hurt to politely ask if they got a certain project and let them know you'd like to read. You can also be proactive in letting them know the types of projects and characters you'd love to be submitted for (without being annoying, of course.) If you haven't heard anything in more than a few weeks and are truly concerned about being forgotten about, frame it constructively rather than getting confrontational. For example, you could send an email saying "Hey, I just wanted to check in and give you a heads-up on what I've been up to. I did a casting director workshop the other day and met Jack Smith from Unknown Games. He gave me some good feedback on my military game reads and I feel I'm improving consistently in this regard. I'd love to read on these types of games if you have any come through in the future!" This shows a lot more positive initiative than sending an off-putting email bugging your agent about why you're not getting auditions. Remember, your agents expect you to consistently be working on your craft, not sitting around waiting to hear from them!
- "I signed with an agency, but I'm barely booking!" Your agent simply submits you for jobs based on the auditions you send them. The final decisions are up to casting/clients/buyers, who are often reviewing hundreds of submissions from multiple agencies around the country. Your mindset should not be "am I booking the jobs my agent sends me" but rather "is my agent sending me audition opportunities, and am I reasonably happy with the quantity and quality of auditions I am getting?" Remember, one of the biggest hurdles is simply getting your foot in the door to get these opportunities in the first place. If you're not booking much or at all through your agency, but they're still sending you auditions and actively submitting you on projects, it's not your agent's fault if the client ends up picking a different actor.
- If things aren't working out, don't despair. Not every partnership will be a good fit, and it's not uncommon for actors to end up switching agents several times throughout their career. After your contract period ends, you are able to look elsewhere if need be, but try to see if you can improve things at your current agency before simply jumping ship and looking for a new one. It's reasonable to request a meeting with them when you're up for contract renewal to discuss how things are going and see if there's anything they'd like to see more of from you or anything you'd like to see more of from them. You don't want to stay at a place where you're unhappy, but you also don't want to be a serial "agent-hopper". Talk to your friends and find out the pros and cons of their agents so you get an idea of which ones would and wouldn't be a good fit for you if you decide to switch.
If you decide to switch agencies...
Unless your agent is truly terrible or behaves in an unethical manner, the principle that applies to jobs also applies to agencies: it's better to wait to jump ship until you have a new one lined up. When you officially have an offer of representation from another agency, inform your current one (preferably in writing, like an email) as soon as possible to let them know you intend to part ways and pursue representation elsewhere. Be professional, take the high road, and thank them for the work they did for you. Do your best to avoid burning bridges. Regardless of whether or not you were satisfied with the relationship or felt they truly worked in your best interest, it's a relatively small industry and individual agents tend to move around to different agencies over the years. You don't want an unpleasant or awkward situation if one of your old agents ends up at your new agency in the future!
If you get dropped...
Not everything is meant to be. Some agencies like to keep their rosters small, and at the end of a year or contract period they may go through and drop the people who aren't booking enough or who aren't deemed to be a good fit. Or if you're on a trial period, they may simply decide not to bring you on board. Getting dropped isn't a fun feeling, but remember that most of the time it's not personal, it's just business. Maybe your reads were solid overall but just not what they were looking for, or maybe they have too many people on their roster who can do what you do but are slightly more bookable. If it's you who dropped the ball, be honest with yourself and take it as a learning experience for next time. You can always ask if they have any feedback for you to help you be more competitive in your future endeavors. But remember that in the end, one agent's opinion isn't going to be everyone's. As cliché as it sounds, "when one door closes, another opens."
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