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  • Question about Agents/Representation from you professionals

    Hello dear VSL users. I have a quick question for you guys that are currently professional/work in the industry and have agents/representation of some sort.

    What qualifies a person to obtain an agent.

    Basically I am asking how the agent/artist relationship works, does the agent require some sort of proof of your abilities in order to feel compelled to represent you? Is it based on the agent's artistic sensibilities and opinion of your works in that they will request a demo tape/resume of yours and make the decision to represent you based on whether they like your work? How does the whole process work? And once they do officially sign you, are there any contractual or legal obligations that they have unto you or you unto them? For example is there any legal/contractual/theoretical/ethical obligation they have to get you a certain amount of work in a certain pre-ordained amount of time, or vice versa do you have some sort of obligation for them? Are there any fees that you incur from THEM for simply being represented by them even if they are not getting you any work etc?

    Basically, I would like those questions answered if possible and would kindly like to know any other ancillary information, like what is the point of an agent and what are the true benefits of having one?

    Thank you gentlemen and women.


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    @requiem_aeternam7 said:

    Hello dear VSL users. I have a quick question for you guys that are currently professional/work in the industry and have agents/representation of some sort.

    What qualifies a person to obtain an agent.

    They would only be interested in your credit list. I you didn't have one, you wouldn't get beyond that phone call.

    DG


  • Thanks that's the type of info. that I'm looking for. So you said if you don't have one then it would end there. But suppose you do have one, albeit not a substantial one, on what basis would they judge your viability based on your 'credit list'? Would they ask you to send them those projects you've done so they could hear your work if obviously those projects were small things that they've never heard of before? Or what I'm basically asking is how would they proceed then after ascertaining that you do have a credit list, whether it be tiny or large?


  •  Hey there,

    I actually used to work for an agency that represented film composers about 10 years ago, and have some 'insider" observations if you will. Think of it this way - Gorfaine/Schwartz is a business. They're doing this to make money. The only way they will make money is by taking a percentage of your profit. So, if they can see that you are about to make some serious money, they'll be very interested in representing you. This, however, is less judged by your talent and abilities, and more by your connections and the jobs you have lined up yourself. A lot of people have this idea that agents are out there to get you jobs - it's true to a point, but not completely. The agents are there to negotiate your contracts, get you the best deal and so forth. For big time names, they're more in the business of fielding the offers and helping  decide which potential future job would be most beneficial to the composer, both monetarily and credits wise. One or two (or 58) credits on small, low budget independent movies would get you nowhere at Gorfaine, or similar type of agency. One or two credits on movies that made a splash at the boxoffice, with directors who are obviously going places and who are happy to be working with you, will get you in. Makes sense? ;-) 

    And once you're signed in with the agency, they are absolutely under no obligation to get you work - and that was the thing that was very interesting to observe. You had composers who were thinking "I have an agent, I'm just gonna sit down and wait for my jobs to come in", and they'd be sitting there forever, complaining about the agency, and you had composers who got their own jobs, and had the agency negotiate the deals, etc., and they were just getting busier and busier. 

    Hope this helps. Cheers.


  • damirp is right. Even the smaller agencies are not interested unless you have a substantial credit list. The larger ones would probably expect studio movies under your belt before even considering you. The only other option is to be "introduced" by a big hitter, and even then there is no guarantee that you would be taken on.

    FWIW agents are not necessarily qualified to judge your music. they are administrators and negotiators; not musicians, in spite of what they might think.....! I'm afraid that the road is a lonely one, unless you have some success. At this point there will be people falling over themselves to represent you.

    DG


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    @DG said:

    FWIW agents are not necessarily qualified to judge your music. they are administrators and negotiators; not musicians

     

    DG

    And they don´t have to be... Some years a go I worked with an agent who had absolutely no idea about music in general and my music in special. But he made the people believe, that it would the only right decision to book me because of my incredible skills. For this guy it was no difference to sell music or furniture or anything. And as long as he sells my music well it makes no difference for me either. Best Stephan

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    @damirp said:

    So, if they can see that you are about to make some serious money, they'll be very interested in representing you. This, however, is less judged by your talent and abilities, and more by your connections and the jobs you have lined up yourself.

    damirp is absolutely right here. Some years ago I had meetings with practically all the major international publishers at the International Music Fair in Frankfurt. The message was very clear: You have to generate money, a LOT of money before any company will sign you. This is pure business. Or you can also say: You have to generate so much money that you really don't need an agent/publisher...[;)]


  • damirp is absolutely dead on.

    I do not currently have an agent.  However, after two "insider" recommendations on my behalf, I got phone calls from both Gorfaine and First Artists, interested in having "exploratory meetings."  That's code for, "tell us why we want to take 10% of the money you're already making without us," and that's exactly what those meetings entailed.  They begin with a lot of knob slobbering, of course, about how brilliant you are, etc., and how bright your future is, but very quickly they just want to know that you're already signed to an A-list film with an A-list director. It's just about the money.  They don't get you work.  They just take your money.  But for their 10%, they'll negotiate your contracts for you (which a lot of people have handled by a lawyer separately anyway, like I do) but also, at the highest levels, they're just sort of "part of the process."  Like, you just have to have them there. Deals have to be handled by your agent or your lawyer, and your agent is likely the one with the access, having the lunches, doing the "thing" around town.  So in the end, in my case, my meetings did not lead to representation.  I had no A-films to bring them.  And one of them told me point blank they didn't have the clout to just pick up the phone and tell some director or producer, "trust me, I've got the guy and you should hire him."  That is the stuff of yesteryear fantasies.  And if THEY don't have the clout, nobody does.  They can parlay previous successes into more successes at the same level, but probably so can you.  Moving up?  That's back on you again.  

    And this is true at every agency.  Just the "how much money are you going to give us," number scales with the size and clout of the agency.  Smaller agencies will accept composers who bring in smaller commissions.  But no matter what, you have to have made the connections, gotten the deals, built the relationships, and deliver the product all on your own.  This is one of the reasons that having absolutely solid "in the room" social skills is a must.  Talent has nothing to do with getting work.  Our industry is just overflowing with marginal or talentless composers working on films - big films - all the time.  Including a few "up and comers" I can think of who could be outwritten by most of us if you woke us out of a drunken stupor in the middle of the night and gave us 30 minutes and a pencil.  Talent is simply why they'll remember you or not, when it's all over.  So keep your focus on meeting and courting those directors and producers. They're who you'll work with anyway.

    _Mike


  • EDIT: Sorry, I have to erase this post due to contractual reasons with my publisher.

  •  Very interesting thread, thanks guys!


  • Of course it's all about the money. In my case I can tell you, like I've been trying to tell you here for years, you forget all your musical dreams if you're looking to write music for films and tv. If I had gone to Hollywood or LA - or whatever you want to call it - I would NOT have gone into music writing for films. I would have been an AGENT - or working for Gorfaine.

    Before I retired from my career, I used to get people wanting to work for us all the time and in the end we took on about 40 or so and capped it - and that was always enough. The only thing I was EVER interested in was - what are you bringing to us in terms of clients? How much money am I going to make from hiring you? That was the only thing that mattered as far as I was concerned.

  • Yeah..10points aint nuthing.

    I also had a publisher for years, and they took 40%.

    Our manager took 20%.

    I dont think they brought anything usefull to the table at all.

    They claim to work for you, but the reality is that , at least witt our publisher...they are too big and busy to follow thru on their intentions and pomises. So they just collect money and do the paperwork.

    the good thing..is that you can get advances and possibly have a negative account and still get further payments and more money then if you wwere to manage everything yourself. But we all know how living on credit turns out in the end LOL.

    id say dont take on a publisher unless you can afford to loose 40% of your income for the sake of conveniance...

    PaulR is very right , its only about the money, and publishers and agents will only be interested in you if you can generate enuff of it to make it worth their time. And you might not get anything subtantial in return for your hard earned $$$


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    @PaulR said:

    I can tell you, like I've been trying to tell you here for years, you forget all your musical dreams if you're looking to write music for films and tv.
     

    Well, of course, here I can disagree with you, because it's simply not my experience.  

    You just have to know what you're up against, and like any other business arrangement, get yourself leverage, and be clear what your real goals are.  The first thing I did when entering the business, was make sure I didn't have to be a whore.  Having to take any job just to pay bills was going to kill my love for music, and force me to work with tons of people in tons of ways I wouldn't want to.  So the first thing I did was submit pieces to the music library companies - 3M, Muzak, etc. - writing this godawful "hold music."  Except I could crank out 8 tunes a weekend, record them at my friend's house for a modest cost with a couple great players, and it was great exercise.  I had a 92% acceptance rate, and after a couple years of just loading up the libraries, to this day those tunes remain my staple ASCAP royalty base that I live on.

    Once that desperate pressure is off, you can be more selective about what you do, and you take that into meetings with you.  Believe me, people can smell desperation, and they can tell when you're about the money - or when you have to be, by necessity.  At first, in Hollywood, people don't quite know what to do with you when you can't just be bought.  But with that security at your back, you have more leverage to make it about the work, and about what you want to do.  Of course, what you want to do is make the producer's film, or the director's film, the best film it can possibly be. And when you mean that, and when it's obviously not just a sell line because you're actually about the money, they tend to believe it's true.  And true, non-qualified passion is attractive to everyone.

    Agents are about the money.  Hell, most people are about the money.  But the people you really want to work with, who care about the art, are out there, and they like people of the same flavor.  You make some business decisions, so you can make artistic decisions.  But they're aren't mutually exclusive.

    Like most things, the wisdom lies in the balance.

    _Mike


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    @mverta said:

    But the people you really want to work with, who care about the art, are out there, and they like people of the same flavor.  You make some business decisions, so you can make artistic decisions. 


    I don't want to be your agent.

  • All right - I am editing this because it shouldn't be publicly posted.  This thread and the attitude of some people here really enrages me, because it is a combination of people who are naive, with people who know what they are talking about, and all of it about the very reason why the music industry is so disgusting to me.


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    @William said:

    "Well, of course, here I can disagree with you, because it's simply not my experience." - mverta
     
    What experience do you have?  That Star Trek demo?
     
    This pisses me off.  You go around acting like you are such a hotshot professional composer, putting me and anyone who dares not to fawn all over you down, and now you say something so stupidly naive.  Guess what - THIS HAS BEEN MY ONLY EXPERIENCE  and it is why I don't like arrogant naive little jerks like you telling people how things are.   You can forget all about the entire nature of musc and art, if you want to be a professional film composer.  Stop trying to fool people here because you are full of it and make me sick.
     
    This entire thread in fact is nauseating, because it reminds me of the venal, disgusting nature of the music business.   For your information mverta and all the bright-eyed little would-be hacks out there - I have a thousand times more respect for an idealistic amateur who sincerely creates a piece of music THAT WILL BE UTTERLY IGNORED by all of the goddamned high-powered agents you are so eager to kiss ass for.

    Must've hit pretty close to the mark to get you all riled up, there, sweetie.[;)]

    You're going to have to do better than that, though.  

    _Mike


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    @PaulR said:

    I don't want to be your agent.
     

    The agents only care about the money, Paul, but they don't care how or where or under what circumstances you get it.  So what I'm saying is, control how you get it, because you can't trust people like agents to find it for you, or protect what you do, or care about you at all.  I'm saying leverage yourself as best as possible on the artistic front, because the business aspect of it will never serve your creative endeavours at all.  But once you've got the gig, they'll take the money, no questions asked 😊

    _Mike


  • What many people do not understand is that there are - right here - people who are the superior of many highly paid industry professionals and who are not making money BECAUSE THEY WILL NOT COMPROMISE.  And these very agents who are so arrogant in their power, look down upon them.  What they don't understand is that they would also be looking down upon some of the greatest artists of history if they could, because many of those were the same type - artists who got into whatever medium they do for idealistic reasons AND CONTINUED TO WORK FOR THOSE SAME REASONS.  They would not destroy everything they believe in for money. 

    But you cannot have that attitude in Hollywood.  You must be willing to do that.   That has been my only experience. Create something out of belief, out of desire to make something beautiful or good, for its own sake, and it MEANS NOTHING to these people.  And they are in total control. 

    All of this has NOTHING WHATEVER to do with anything I believe in. This "Professional"  world has nothing whatever to do with mine. So why should I post anything here? There is no reason.  This whole thing exists for money-making.   Nobody gives a shit about art.  What? Art?  Are you kidding? How can you be so naive!


  •  Actually, you're the one being not only naive, but self-righteous and elitist.  The world isn't perfect, and just because you can make money at doing what you love, and do it well doesn't mean it's corrupt and valueless.  If a million people's lives are enriched by your work, you can consider yourself lucky to have made that kind of contribution through your art.  If you did it and you're not especially talented, then your contribution will fade.  If you did it and you're especially talented, chances are it will endure, as some music has endured for centuries.  It has little to do with getting work, and little to do with paying bills.  Many of the greats were absolutely obsessed with money, and were as "commercial" then as composers are today.

    You can make sweeping judgements about all us inferior types, and call me names or whatever, but so what, really?  I've made an extremely comfortable living for myself doing nothing but writing music that I love, and that people have felt was worth paying me for.  I hope to do more and bigger work, but who knows?  I hardly feel compelled to justify my life to you, or anyone, really.  But at least I do speak from personal experience, and consider myself fortunate to have been able to carve any kind of life for myself through writing music, let alone a rewarding and happy one.

    _Mike


  • William no offense to you because despite your anger you seem to be a very down to earth idealist like myself and believe in art, but why do you have such enmity for someone like Mike Verta. First of all, you say he hasn't done anything but a star trek demo, if you would have looked him up you can see he's a professional IN the industry, he actually works in hollywood and has scored movies before so as far as anyone here is concerned that makes him far more qualified to speak on the matter than you. No offense of course I don't mean that in a nasty way but it's the truth, the point of the thread is to ask about agents and seeing as how Mike has dealt with agents before, and the creme de la creme at that (Gorfaine, the agent of EVERY major player in Hollywood from Yo Yo Ma, to James Horner and Hans Zimmer etc), that makes him very qualified to at the least SHARE HIS OPINION.

    I understand your sentiment but I just don't see why you continually take your bitterness at what might possibly be your own failings out at genuinely good people like Verta who does nothing but help people on here and offers his opinions and any help that they ask for in terms of asking him his techniques and how he made it to the top etc. Have YOU offered anything the 'community' here? I know I haven't but that's why I am grateful to people like Verta that descend from their lofty perch on Mount Olympus (Mt. Hollywood) to share their experiences with us street urchins trying to make it in the BUSINESS. Yes keyword being, BUSINESS because that's the nature and topic of this thread, the BUSINESS side of things, perhaps next time I'll make a thread about the artistic side and then you can spread your wings in that thread as you seem to be an expert in that field :)