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A talent agent is someone who represents professional actors, writers, performers, musicians, artists and athletes. Talent agents work on behalf of their clients to promote and represent their interests, and will typically handle the majority of all interactions between their client and the employer.
In general, a talent agent acts as a middleman between talented creative types and those that are looking to hire them. Talent agents may either actively seek out clients to represent, or have entertainers and artists contact them first. The latter scenario is much more common for entertainers who seek representation for the first time. More experienced entertainers and artists may change their agent as their career matures.
The job duties of a talent agent involve a fair amount of communication and negotiation with prospective employers. Advances in information technology have allowed talent agents to perform much of their job duties online, but at the end of the day, person-to-person contract negotiations determine the final outcome.
Typically, talent agents spend the majority of their time making phone calls or contacting employers and potential clients online. Selling a client's talents to prospective employers takes up a large amount of the agent's day, and the most successful talent agents come up with new and innovative ways to accomplish their goal. Occasionally, something as simple as treating an employer's representative with a nice dinner is all it takes to finalize the signing of a client.
Talent agents promote the talents of their clients in addition to performing other marketing duties. Essentially, the amount of marketing considerations talent agents must consider depends upon the specific industry in which an agent operates. Sports agents, for example, have to consider many more marketing implications than an agent representing a painter or a writer. Talent agents representing actors and actresses have to consider their client’s marketing potential as well.
Depending upon a talent agent's area of expertise, the daily job duties may also include visiting music studios, concert venues, a record label's corporate office, a publisher's office, performance halls, and movie studios. A talent agent would do well to attend as many social events as possible in order to network efficiently and discover insider information about the current state of the movie business. When working on behalf of their clients, every contact an agent can make matters a great deal, more than an agent's clients may realize.
Most talent agents start out by working in talent agencies that cater to different types of artists. Some of the more common cities for talent agents to work in may include Hollywood, New York City, and Nashville. Working as a talent agent often requires long hours and many responsibilities. An office is the usual day-to-day workplace, but advances in communication technology now allow agents to work on-the-go. Mobile technology has given many agents the flexibility necessary to operate their own online agencies, for example. Often, a talent agent's duties involve traveling, and some agents even travel abroad quite a bit when representing non-native clients.
The education prerequisites for a career as a talent agent vary depending upon the industry in which an agent specializes. For example, literary agents would do well to earn at the very least a bachelor's degree in journalism or english. More often than not, agents earn degrees in business or marketing, but any degree related to an agent's area of expertise usually suffices.
Entrepreneurial talent agents who seek to launch their own talent agency would do well to earn an advanced degree at one of the top MBA programs in North America; specifically an MBA degree with a focus on marketing.
Other than industry expertise or a strong background in marketing, talent agents must be highly self-motivated individuals who can work long hours without any supervision. Great social skills and the ability to understand financial negotiations are two other indispensable traits of a successful agent.