Guest Post by Dick Christian
Perhaps because I consider myself first and foremost a performer, I try to bend over backwards in favor of the performer and do things as an agent that none of the other agencies for which I work have ever done for me. These include: 1) providing every performer I send to a job with their own personalized business cards – – bearing THEIR name, but my companies address, phone number and web site, 2) providing each performer with a map showing the location of, and route to, each local job (a convenience to the performer and, just as important, deprives the performer of any excuse for late arrival because they couldn’t find the location), 3) in all but rare occasions getting payment to the performer in a timely manner after the job even if we have not yet received payment from the client (whenever possible I try to arrange it so the performer is paid on the job and then remits the commission to my company) and 4) in those rare cases where we have a problem getting paid by the client, I see to it that the performer gets paid as soon as our cash flow permits and then I try to go after the client for the monies owed (in one case it took 3 years of legal hassles before I finally recovered over $3,500 owed by a client – – but the performers were all paid less than 2 weeks after the job). In the rare instance when a client has given a performer a bad check, I have always paid the performer even though there have been times when I was never able to recover the money from the client. I also always let the performer know how much the client is paying for the job. (At least one agency that I work for on occasion has told me that what they charge the client is none of my business; however, because they have always paid me the fee I have asked for I still do business with them.)
In cases where I think that I can get the performer a higher fee than they have asked for, I will try to do so. And I have no reluctance at all to turn down a client and often do so when their budget is too small to get a performer of the quality that the occasion demands. If they are going to get a substandard performer because they can’t afford one who will do the job right I would far rather have them unhappy with another agency than with mine. The odds are good that they will increase their budget and call me the next time they need entertainment.
The things that I ask of the performers I represent include: –
giving me the best price they can for their services and, if possible TWO prices – – the one they’d like to get if possible and the one they would be willing to accept if necessary to get the job – – if there is to be any negotiating room (other than reducing my commission) I need to know that up front in order to be able to negotiate with the client if necessary,
that they conduct themselves in the most professional manner on the job so as to give the client the quality of service that reflects favorably on them as the performer and on my company as agent,
that any work deriving from a job booked through my company within 1 year of the engagement be booked through my company (this is standard within the industry and the only thing that will get a performer on an agency’s shit list quicker than not showing up for a job is using a job booked through the agency to solicit work directly with the same client or others in attendance at the event or giving out one’s own cards instead of the booking agency’s cards on the job).
I should also add that if a client calls me for magician or a mentalist and IF I think that I am qualified to do the job myself and am available to do so, I will try to book one of my own shows (hey, I never said I was stupid). If, however, I feel that another performer who I represent is better qualified for the job (i.e., if it is a trade show or other situation for which I have others better suited for the event), if I am not available, or if the client has hired me in the past and now wants a different performer, I am more than happy to put someone else on the job.
Those of us who operate and manage reputable and conscientious agencies are embarrassed by the few bad apples that give the industry a bad name – – just as we who perform are embarrassed by those who reflect unfavorably upon our craft.
If you are in doubt about an agency’s integrity it is always a good idea to check with other performers they represent. Any reputable agency should be happy to provide you with a list of performer references.
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