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Managers vs Agents: What's the Difference?

We recently had a discussion on the MAKE IT podcast about Managers and Agents and the seemingly blurry lines between the two. We didn't have all of the distinctions and differences ironed out, so we did some digging to clear things up.

To put it simply, an Agent has the well-defined and industry-regulated role of connecting talent to projects and negotiating contracts on their behalf. The role of the Manager, however, is dependent upon the needs of the client as it pertains to promoting their brand and managing their business affairs.

Here are the specifics:


  • Agents typically have a sizeable roster of clients.

  • Agents work for a talent agency. Most talent agencies are franchised through SAG-AFTRA. If a client is a member of SAG-AFTRA, they can only seek representation with SAG-AFTRA franchised agencies.

  • Agents work on behalf of their clients to promote and represent their interests.

  • Agents submit their clients to projects to procure appointments with Casting Directors.

  • Agents may either actively seek out clients to represent, or have entertainers and artists contact them first

  • Agents work on commission only, earning 10% of the client’s Union project bookings. On Non-Union projects, agents commission ranges from 15% to 20%

  • Agents negotiate contracts on a client's behalf.

  • Agents work with and are subject to the regulations of labor unions.


  • Managers most often have a smaller roster of clients to be able to handle each clients’ day-to-day affairs.

  • Managers, like Agents, may either actively seek out clients to represent or have entertainers and artists contact them first.

  • While some managers do collect a salary from the firm they are with, many managers work on commission only. The same can be said for Agents at bigger companies who are receiving a salary. The client pays nothing out of pocket in either scenario.

  • Managers typically collect 10%-15% commission on all projects.

  • Managers can be anyone a client trusts to manage their business.

  • Managers work with clients to manage the day-to-day aspects of their career, not just prospecting on individual projects.

  • Managers can help vet staff for a client.

  • Managers often manage PR and media exposure unless a PR manager is specifically hired to do so.

  • Managers can advise a client about a contract but cannot negotiate contracts on a client's behalf.

  • Managers should not advise on income and investments, but can refer clients to a business manager or CPA

When it comes down to making a selection on a Manager or an Agent, it may not be about one or the other; in fact, it's likely that you'll need both at some point in your career. The real thing to determine is what roles you need on your team to help you make contacts, build your network, find projects, negotiate contracts, and manage the day-to-day work of being a creative in a competitive industry. Once you've identified the roles, you'll need to seek out people who you can trust to manage your affairs and to keep your best interest at heart.

As always,

Be Better. Be Creative. Be Engaged.

If you're looking for someone to help you on your creative journey, feel free to reach out to us. We'd love to work with you!


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