This Actor's Soapbox: Agents, Contracts and Managers, Oh My!
There are two very different worlds when it comes to the pop recording industry versus the musical theater industry. Unless you've been living under a rock then you must have seen Straight Outta' Compton out in theaters now. Long story short their manager screws them over by stealing their earnings.
Don't be that person. A good movie for people to watch (as horrible as it is) is the remake of Fame. He pays all of this money for this and that and then the day he goes to pick his head shots up, the business is out of business, the building is empty and he just got scammed.
Luckily, I was taught at a very young age to never sign anything without taking it home, looking it over and deciding from there. Especially if you're very young, it's easy to be taken advantage of.
Remember this, young or old, you always need to read the fine print.
I have been offered contracts before where I requested to take it home and look it over. I looked over the fine print and it didn't seem fair.
Managers and agents only get about 20% of what YOU make. If they send you out and you book nothing, they don't get paid. If you book a commercial, or a show or theater through them and it's successful in casting you then they get their 20%.
Never, ever trust a business you a; have never heard of b; can't find anything on at all whether through a friend or a website c; their bio and history looks unfamiliar and dated or bogus and finally, d; make you sign a contract on the spot.
Do your homework.
A legit agent or manager will NEVER make you sign something as soon as they offer it. That's a scam and you should be ashamed of yourself if you fall for it. It can be easy but there are ways to avoid sliding into the cracks.
So here's a scene.
You get called in by this specific company/agency and they sit you down in their nice office (if it's a seedy place with duck tape holding up their sign then head for the hills!)
Sure, they dazzle you with their words and all of the 'we can do this and that' and then they offer you a contract. You have the right to say right out then and there that you will take this home, look it over with a LAWYER and get back to them.
It's very important that you read everything, every bit of the fine print because once you sign it...it's binding. Think of Ursula in The Little Mermaid. Ariel signed away her voice which in turn became her soul.
Don't be that person that gets scammed.
If they say no we need you to sign right here then say, thanks but no thank you. They're not legit, they just want you right then and there at that moment. You never pay a cent, if they ask for moola at that particular time or later in the next few months they are bogus.
Stay away especially from places that offer you classes, etc so you can gain experience. If they signed you then they know what you're capable of and you should never have to 'gain experience'. Agents and managers are very picky and precise with their talent.
Remember: Never sign anything immediately, check their reputations and ask around. Always look over a contract with a lawyer or a family member who can understand the legal standpoint and fine print. Never pay for classes, modeling instructions etc. It's a scam.
Another tip, if someone catches you or your child in the mall and says "Hey! You would be great for this, you would be a great actor, model, etc!" That's a big, big alarm right there. You'll get in there, maybe they're super nice and then all of the sudden it's $600 for promo photos and $1200 for master classes.
Know what you're getting into. At any age you can be scammed. Be cautious with your endeavors into this seedy world.
It's a business first and foremost. It's all about money. But you have to remember that it's all about heart and passion on your end. Settle for the best, not for the mediocre or the worst.
You're putting in your time for this career and you want someone who can work with you, that understands you and books you gigs the right way.