Taking Agency | Talent Agents vs Personal Managers


For years now there has been a raging dispute between talent agents and personal managers on what role they should play for artists. After researching and interpreting the laws confronting this issue, I actually side with the agents.

Talent agents are to seek and place talent in positions that will further benefit their career in the long run and managers are responsible with advising their talent on what makes sense to them creatively, building their brand and network, and being there as a general resource. However, managers have been stepping on the agents’ responsibilities by seeking work and booking said work for their talent.

Because of the laws put into effect in California and New York, managers should not be working as an employment agency because that is the role of an agent. The New York law states, “Article 11 defines what an employment agency is, and includes any entity that charges a fee for the placement of a candidate in employment with a third-party employer. There are some exceptions to the law” (New York State). In addition, California law defines a talent agency as “a person or corporation who engages in the occupation of procuring, offering, promising, or attempting to procure employment or engagements for an artist or artists, except that the activities of procuring, offering, or promising to procure recording contracts for an artist or artists shall not of itself subject a person or corporation to regulation and licensing under this chapter” (State of California).

In my short time working in this industry I have already noticed managers taking on the role of an agent. At first I thought it was normal and quite honestly did not know the difference between a manager and an agent. After researching and learning about the laws affecting agents and managers, I will be sure to treat agents with great respect and treat them as a co-worker for the artists I manage in the future. Because an agent has to go through an application process and pay for their right to work as an agent, it is quite unfair for managers to take over the employment aspect of their artist.

The laws between New York and California should definitely be written in a more comprehensive and distinct manner addressing managers directly. Once they have re-written this legislation, I would love to see it become a federal law and apply throughout the country.

Pat Timmons