walking away

I walked away from a talent agency relationship today.

Now it could be easy to cast this agency as bad guys or disreputable. I don’t think they are and my due diligence (that I do with every possible agency relationship I negotiate) currently indicates I am right. Nor should it be seen as proudly proclaiming that I dumped some group. None of that is the point here (nor is it to name names), rather I simply hope others can learn from my experience(s).

This was an agency that has sent me leads, I’d met with the owner personally and we’d work out a contract — that was left unsigned because they were too busy to take 5 minutes to review minor changes (flag on the play!). Friends who are with them as talents speak well of them. They repeatedly and categorically stated they wanted me to sign as a voice talent with their agency. Now about that flag…. 😉

What I witnessed first hand and experienced with their company was total organizational chaos (not organized chaos, there’s a difference). It was like their agency was working at DefCon 2  and pushing it up to 1 was an imminent outcome. And this group wasn’t in New York, LA or Chicago — where you might expect such behavior (yet I’ve not seen that with the agencies there I deal with.)

My professional experience (i.e. 25+ years within the voice over world’s school of hard knocks) has been if you have to chase agencies down too much, if there seems to be no follow up but loads of platitudes when you do connect, a voice agent’s operation is faltering in some way.

Maybe they’re making money but details are being left out and they are frustrating the client (unbeknownst to the talent). Maybe money is tight and they are short staffed. Maybe it’s one of a myriad of other issues (the agency business is a tough one, I will grant you). But in this case it was at least unnecessary and worse unprofessional chaos.

That’s not something I want my professional brand associated with in front of clients nor do I care to spend my valuable time dealing with it or fretting over it.

Maybe it’s my attitude that I’ve always held about representation. At the very least, an agency relationship should be a partnership where each side uses their talents to make money for the other. In many ways, agencies work for the talent because it is the talent that earns the agent their money (agents need something to sell). I certainly prefer the partnership concept but what I will never support is an agency who thinks any talent is beholden to them and ‘oh aren’t we lucky just to have representation’. To me that’s not confidence, that’s arrogance – I’ve seen it and I won’t hire it.

The good news is there are a lot of great, hard working, qualified and organized talent agents out there. I am proud to be represented by many of them with a couple of new ones about to be announced. So it’s not so much an industry issue; each new agency negotiation needs to be analyzed on its own merits. And to be fair, there have been an agent or two who have not wanted to represent me…rejection in the VO world is not limited to auditions (some folks are very geocentric in their representation policies and I respect that).

Look, I know running a small business is stressful and at times chaotic. But not 24/7. If it is, then there’s a management problem.

The gut check said walk away.

What do you think, good move or bad?

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6 Responses to “walking away”

  1. Having worked at a talent agency, I think you totally made the right decision for you. That kind of environment would’ve driven you crazy, a constant source of frustration. What’s kinda funny though, is it probably will appeal to certain actors out there, and might be why this agency is still in business.

    I’m a HUGE fan of ‘vibe’. If you aren’t feeling it, get out. You’re not doing the agency any favors, and you’ll save yourself SO much frustration in the end.

  2. SAG:

    Thanks. Sometimes common sense feels uncommon and there’s always a little question in the back of one’s mind.

    Thanks for visiting, come back anytime.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  3. Peter,

    I’m confident that you’ve made the right decision for you. I suspect you’d suggest that everyone else do their own due diligence because individual results may vary.

    Be well,
    Bob

  4. Hi Peter,

    I think you made the right choice, it’s very important to trust our instinct in matter of business. If you feel a business relationship isn’t working, then get out.
    Often people feel like the agent is all mighty, and that you shouldn’t even talk to them in case you bother them. Often talents are terrified of their agent and there is something wrong with that.
    I agree with you, it should be a partnership. If you are not comfortable with your agent, then you are better alone, especially if you are worried it may affect your relationship with clients.
    A successful business relationship is base on trust, communication and respect. One of these wasn’t there, so it was better for both of you to part.
    I’m sure it was a difficult decision to make, but you are going to be much happier now 🙂

  5. Hi Claire:

    Thank you so much for visiting and sharing your kind thoughts.

    So far so good on the biz front and I am pleased to say that the agent in question still seems to be in business so maybe their attitude is improving. One can only hope.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Peter K. O'Connell. Peter K. O'Connell said: AN oldie but a goodie #vo , #voiceover RT @audioconnell "walking away" http://bit.ly/RRF4x […]

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