If you’re serious about a career as an artist in the music industry, you will eventually need an agent.
However there are a number of things to do to prepare yourself for the process of securing representation; but even then, an agent won’t just magically appear.
Step One – Training
“An agent is your first step into the professional world,” said certified Brett Manning associate Zuke Smith. “Having said that, you should be trained to a level that the agent can suggest you for a job knowing you will be fully prepared and ready.”
But what exactly does that mean? What sort of preparation is required in order to increase your chances of at least gaining some interest from a potential agent.
“For a singer, that means not only knowing how to sing a full repertoire of songs but how to perform and sell yourself as well,” Zuke said. “Many parents ask me how they can find an agent for their son or daughter before they’ve even performed on stage!”
Tracking NOT Slacking
Beyond training, you need to work at establishing a proven track record for your performance skills, your ability to attract and move an audience, and your commitment to successfully building a fan base.
“Think of the agent as a job agency or HR rep,” she said. “They can’t recommend you for anything unless they know you are qualified. Get qualified, get experience, get ready!”
Walter Vincent is an example of a young but seasoned performer with a proven track record.
The 24 year old Walter Vincent is an accomplished actor, composer, songwriter, lyricist, musician, and vocalist.
His original alternative rock project called Hollywood Hangover spun him toward pursuit of artistic expression through acting, as he was offered the role of Judas in the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar.
Study + More Study
To help him explore and hone his acting skills he minored in theatre and music at Wagner College in NY. He also developed and sharpened his improvisation skills at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Where is also pursuing additional training. If that weren’t enough he is also studying at the renowned Stellar Adler School of Acting In New York.
Q + A
SSO: What advice do you have for singers and performers seeking representation?
Walt: First of all, you need to ask yourself, are you ready to be represented? Then, make sure you invest in yourself before you go looking for people to invest in you. Invest in things like time, money, practice, rehearsal, and so forth. If you can’t do that, why would anyone else invest in you?
SSO: How do you feel most agents perceive talent?
Walt: You have to remember that to them, you are a product that they have to sell to buyers such as booking agents, record labels, casting directors, and so on. So you should constantly be working on your craft so that when you approach these “sellers” they will be walking away from the meeting saying to themselves that taking you on as their client is a no-brainer.
SSO: What other preparation is required that you think a lot of people might overlook?
Walt: On top of constantly working on your craft, you have to be working on your business. You want to be doing all the work for them before hand. In other words, know who you are and who you appeal to. Who is your audience? What is your type? Do you have an up to date website? Do you have a loyal fan base? Do you have business cards? Do you have a marketing plan? Who is your target market? What are your short term goals and long term goals? Be very clear on what it is that you want. You need to have all of these questions and then some answered before you approach anyone. You need to have your “you know what” together. Do the work for them so you can basically walk in there and say “okay, sell this!”
SSO: Okay. Let’s say you get an agent. Is there anything else that needs attention?
Walt: Even when you land representation, most people just say, “Okay, I have an agent/manager now. So, I can sit back and relax waiting for the phone to ring.” NOPE! Once you land that representation, you have to work even harder. The difference is that you now you have a powerful teammate. However, you still have to do your research and be up on the trades and perfect your craft constantly. Remember that Luck equals Preparation plus Opportunity. Your representation can open doors that you otherwise couldn’t open yourself. So that’s all the more reason to be fully prepared.
SSO: What is one of the biggest things most singers and actors neglect once they have an agent?
Walt: You have to understand there are a lot of doors you really can open yourself with out representation. So you need to be on top of what is going on in your industry, and always be in the loop. Don’t be afraid to find out information. You might see something that you would be perfect for such as a certain role or maybe as the opening act for a band that is coming to your town. Then, contact those people with how you can help them out by filling the role or by getting a few more people into the club or venue. Then, make sure there is a great reason why they need you! What’s the worst they can say? No? Train yourself to love that word because the word “no” will make you successful. It teaches you to bounce back, be bolder, get better, stronger, and learn more.
SSO: What else can you do for yourself as you grow your career?
Walt: Don’t forget that you can reach countless numbers of fans on your own. Keep up to date on your website, interact with your fans, and build a community that surrounds you product and promotes it. I know it sounds like a lot but all you have to do is set goals for yourself and take ACTION! There’s a great goal achievement program that I recommend called the Magic Hundred which has helped me with my career and life in general. So start your business as a singer. Get your sales pitches together, your marketing plans together, your image, and son. Then once you have that, go looking for people to invest their time and money to help you achieve your goals. Be the complete package. That’s what an agent is looking for. They end up managing what you don’t have time to take care of because you are constantly in demand. If you focus on yourself, your goals, your fans and your craft, the investors might even come knocking on your door, and there is no better bargaining chip.
Jonathan Root came to New York just a few years ago from Nashville. Within a year he the versatile actor and singer landed a major role as a member of the cast of the Broadway musical, Avenue Q. Originally from the heartland, he has some sound advice for finding an agent to help grow your career.
Look First – Never Just Jump
“Being an actor without representation is a miserable position to be in because agents open most of the doors in this industry,” said Jonathan. “The paranoia of losing an agent’s interest is so high that actors tend to jump at the first agent that shows it. Then they end up stuck with a rep that isn’t as excited about them as they thought or, worst of all, that just doesn’t get you.”
Jonathan feels that it’s critical to shop around for an agent and be discriminating in your selection of the individual or firm you wish to promote your talent.
“Meet with as many agents as possible to find the one that’s most excited about you and that you believe will sell you best to the industry,” he said. “And always keep in mind that, in theory, the agent is working for you and not vice versa. Don’t ever allow yourself to believe an agent is deigning to work with you, or that they’re doing you a favor by representing you. This industry has far too many ways to strip artists of power; so certainly don’t allow your relationship with your agent start that way. And speaking of power and as a die-hard union man; when you sign contracts as an actor, never ever sign a GSA or General Service Agreement. Only sign contracts that are union-approved by Actors’ Equity Association, AFTRA, or SAG.”
You Control The Power
The power to be prepared rests in your hands. Brett Manning’s teaching and programs as well as online support tools will help you develop the full potential of your unique voice. Through consistent, dedicated preparation and the right representation you will achieve the utmost for your singing success.
For more information on Walter Vincent, visit www.waltervincent.com.
For more information on Jonathan Root, check him out at www.jonathan-root.com.
Deborah “Zuke” Smith
Zuke is a renowned music copyist, piano teacher, songwriter, vocal coach, and self-proclaimed “East coast chick,” who credits Brett Manning’s Singing Success with not only saving her life but forever changing it for the very best it can be. In 2000 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and braved the brutal battery of tests, surgeries, chemotherapy, post chemo drug regimen and physical therapy. She believes that Brett Manning’s programs and method are absolutely essential to bringing out the full potential in any voice. You can find her on Facebook listed as Brett Manning Vocal Method: East Coast, U.S.A.