Now, there’s a good chance at some point you were confused at what the difference was between an artist’s manager and agent, or just did not correctly understand each position. I touched upon this in another post about different job titles you will run into in Hollywood, but let’s get into more detail.
For one, agents tend to work in teams, whereas managers are often a single individual working directly with the client. The manager may be part of a management firm, but there still usually is one manager assigned to a client, where agents may have 1, 2 or 3 most often.
Agents are strictly held to certain standards by law. One such standard is that they wouldn’t be allowed to earn more than 10% from their clients (varies by state, see here). Managers tend to have much more freedom, although it could be controversial if rates get too high (see Elvis and Colonel Tom Parker). Managers can expect around 15%.
To simplify, agents procure new employment for their clients, while managers deal with the day-to-day interests. Essentially, the manager is much more intimate as being the life-coach essentially, as well as planning the path to success for their client (and themselves!). Let’s end this by noting that even with an agent, that’s not to say a manager won’t try to procure employment for their client. While it may be forbidden in some areas, it may not always be enforced. While the agent is revising contracts on new deals for the client, the manager is working to coordinate efforts between all involved in the client’s life (manager, agent, publicity, lawyer, assistants).
In either case, some see it as a good thing and others bad, don’t expect to be with the same client for more than a few years. Surely it happens, but agents typically have many clients, so it can’t happen with all. While managers might have a better chance, it still isn’t guaranteed. In either position, you’re likely to meet and engage closely with many different characters and personalities. It’s a great career path for someone who likes change.
These are just a few small changes between the two. Some want to say they’re vastly different, but that all matters on perspective. There’s been plenty of people to transition from agent to manager over time as well. Whatever you decide to pursue for yourself, always leave your options open. If you start with small-time clients, there’s a good chance you’ll act as manager and agent all in one.
Being open to change is important in this business.