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How Do Talent Agents Make Money?

by Betsy Gallup, studioD

Talent agents are behind-the-scenes necessities that allow people with talent, such as actors, models and musicians, to focus on growing their skills. Talent agents are networking experts who specialize in matching the skills of artists with the needs of hiring professionals. Talent agents make money only when they make a successful match.

Contacts Database

To succeed as a talent agent, you spend a lot of your time building professional relationships with people within the industry who make the hiring decisions, such as producers, casting directors and ad agency representatives. You learn what each professional needs and do your best to provide talent to fill her needs. The more successful you are at providing good fits for casting needs, the more likely your contacts will be to call you the next time they need artists.

Talent Discovery

To fill the casting needs of businesses, you spend time recruiting artists. You might do this by placings ads, holding contests, or hanging out where artists perform and recruiting those artists you think are most likely to fit the needs of hiring professionals. Some of this talent may be raw, and you will spend some time arranging for the artist to take classes or hone specific skills in order to make him more marketable. The more talent you have under contract, the more likely you will have someone to refer to open positions.


The more familiar you are with the skills of your artists, the better match you can make to auditions. This means you spend less time filling casting needs and more time exponentially growing your business through the recruitment of new talent and making new hiring contacts. For example, if a studio contacts you about a casting call for redhead country singers who play the guitar and have a British accent, you make sure that you only send people who fulfill those requirements.

Payment Arrangements

As a talent agent, your monetary success comes from your artists actually being hired. The artists pay you a percentage of their earnings from the project. The industry standard is between 10 and 15 percent. When you agree to represent an artist, you will sign a contract and specify the amount of commission you will receive before you ever send her out on an audition. Asking for a retainer or advance fee from the artist will set off alarms with seasoned professionals and should be avoided. You don't receive any money from the hiring company.

About the Author

Betsy Gallup is a writer with extensive business, tax law, management and accounting experience. During her free time, she enjoys crafting, reading and caring for her children and pets. She holds a B.S. in management/accounting from Park University.

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