I was recently asked by a very talented 18-year-old aspiring Country Western singer whether she should try to get on a singing competition tv show. She was concerned about their requirement that contestants sign management contracts with the show producers. She felt that this would limit her options going forward.
I’ve encountered versions of this question many times from writers, directors, and actors whose motivation for this concern seems to be to keep their options open for a better situation.
Be careful that in your attempt to keep all your options open, you don’t repeatedly reject employment which will expand your experience, add to your credits, potentially lead you to another job (work begets work), and, most importantly, get you tangibly engaged in the business. Anyone who has a job or a contract is “in the game.” Everyone else is “trying to get in the game.” Once you’re in the game, it’s easier to stay in the game and get more work and more useful contacts.
Remember, contracts can be renegotiated in success, canceled in failure, and they eventually expire…and while you’re under contract, someone other than you is hopefully working to advance your career, because that’s the only way that they will benefit from a contract with you.
Next time you’re asked to do a job, or someone wants to put you under contract (under the proper terms), ask yourself…”Do I want to be in the game, or be trying to get in the game?”
One of the questions I hear most often is “how can I get an agent?” One of the most important ways to get anything you want in life is to ask the right questions. By asking a different question, you’re likely to get a much different response. Most of the answers to the question, “How do I get an agent?” will only give you ideas about how to meet an agent. Answers such as, “Network with industry people” or, “Find someone who knows an agent and have them introduce you” or, “Send inquiry letters”. Meeting an agent and getting signed by an agent aren’t the same thing…and one doesn’t automatically lead to the other.
Successful sales people know that in order to consistently close sales, they must know their customer and their customers’ needs and desires. Oh, you’re an actress or writer, not a sales person? What’s an audition other than a sales presentation? We’re all selling something to someone most of the time. The quicker we learn this, the sooner we’ll become successful. For creatives in the entertainment business, the product you’re selling is YOU!
Step one is to know and understand your buyers (More about who your buyers are in another article). Getting to know your buyers requires that you ask the right questions. Instead of, “How can I get an agent?” how about, “What does an agent look for in a new client?” Ask this of anyone who understands the agency business and you’re likely to get a list of characteristics that agents look for when signing someone new. This information will help you better prepare yourself to appeal to an agent. Then, when you do meet an agent or make an inquiry, you’ll be better equipped to present yourself in a way that is likely to be interesting to the agent, and increase your chances of getting signed.
This approach works with everyone you need to support you on your way to the top: producers, directors, casting directors, studio executives, etc., etc., etc. They all have their own particular jobs with unique requirements. Satisfy their requirements and they will satisfy yours.