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The difference between managers and agents
The difference between managers and agents
By Jana VanDyke

There are several types of agents and agencies and there are several types of managers... Maybe we should address that in another blog at another time. For now, we are going to just generalize the difference between the two.


A manager is someone you hire to help you in all aspects of your entertainment career. Most managers do not charge a fee for this service – they work on a commission basis. A manager's commission can range from 10% to 30% of your gross income. A manager's job is to work for you!

Let me give you a couple for instances...

1 – Let's say that you are currently in your "paying your dues" stage of your entertainment career and you are not sure of the next steps to take in order to continue building your career. You may want to consider hiring a manager to help you. During this stage, a manager is most likely going to be wearing many hats. They may need to help you with negotiating contracts, PR services, arranging personal appearances, image consulting, giving career development advice, and even sometimes booking appearances for you. At this stage, a manager is working in full conjunction with the talent as if the talent is one and the same person with the manager. It is a very intimate arrangement and you must TRUST your manager fully with your career.

2 – Let's say that your status within the entertainment industry has grown to a level where your phone is ringing off the hook with people requesting your personal attention. And let's add that you are currently so slammed with projects that you can't handle all the inquiries. It is then that you would most certainly need a manager to handle your business, which IS your career. I will add that probably at this stage, you will have already hired a publicist, agent and entertainment attorney to handle those areas. The manager is the right arm of the talent. If the agent needs the talent for something, the agent calls the manager! If the producer wants to hire the talent, then the producer will call the manager! Get the idea?


An agency is usually a company you hire to look for paying gigs for you. They work on a commission basis only. Most agency fees range from 10% to 20% of your gross income (typically 10%). An agency may advise you on what would work for them in order to get you booked, but they do not handle your career. An agent's job is to work for both you and their clients.

Let me give you a couple for instances...

1 – Let's say that you are currently in your "paying your dues" stage of your entertainment career and you have hired an agent to look for some work for you. The agency will most likely require you to provide them with the material that they need in order to book you. They may even say that you need to provide them with new marketing material on a regular basis. For example, head shots, resume, demo reel, etc... You provide the material in order for them to shop you. Also, a good agency or a good agent will come across a casting call and submit you for it because that agent knows that you fit the call and it would be a good job for you and ultimately for them in return. At this stage, it is a give and take relationship between the agency and the talent. Do NOT expect the agency to do all of the work for you. You will still have to be diligent in developing your career – in essence, finding jobs on your own. You will still need to do this.

2 – Let's say that your status within the entertainment industry has grown or is growing to a level where you're becoming in high demand. That agency will then start booking you as the calls come in requesting you. In addition, the table has turned more in your favor now. The agency and/or agent will then start to work on your behalf more so than the clients... Why? Because you are the reason they are getting these calls.

As I was writing this, I found myself drifting from one end of the spectrum to the other when it comes to managers and agencies... There is so much more to it than the above... Again, it should give you the basic idea and differences.

Here is a great link to more information regarding the different types of agents.

I hope I have explained that well enough... To me it is black and white...