Manager vs. Agent

What’s the Difference Between A Manager and an Agent?

For young performers trying to break into the entertainment industry, representation is key. To succeed, parents must seek out the right agent or manager to help land auditions, generate opportunities, and manage their children’s careers.

What is the best type of representation for your young performer? Knowing the difference between agents and managers is the first step in finding a perfect match. While both types of professionals are responsible for helping performers succeed, there are many factors that set them apart. Let’s take a look at some key differences:


Roles and Responsibilities:

The primary role of an agent is to secure auditions and jobs for performers. Agents usually focus exclusively on certain segments of the industry, so a young performer will want to seek out an agent who specializes in working with children within his or her talent category. Agents are also responsible for negotiating contracts on behalf of their clients.

Managers works closely with performers to help guide and direct their careers. Their roles are more varied and comprehensive than agents. Managers may be involved in helping performers brand and market themselves, advising on which roles they should take and which ones to decline, coordinating travel arrangements, and managing their finances. Good managers are well-connected with a wide range of industry professionals and can leverage their relationships to help boost the careers of their clients.

Because of the extent of their responsibilities, managers usually handle a much smaller number of clients than agents. In theory, this enables managers to provide more personal attention to their performers.


Affiliations and Regulations:

Agents are affiliated with licensed talent agencies. They are bound by specific regulations and requirements set by each state. Managers, on the other hand, are not required to obtain state licensure or follow regulations for their profession. They may belong to management companies or can work on their own. Agents are required to work out of an office, and managers can set up shop anywhere.


Fees and Compensation:

Agents typically receive 10% of a performer’s pay, and their fees are regulated by the state in which they hold their licenses. Managers, on the other hand, are not compelled to adhere to fee guidelines and typically earn more than agents. Managers often receive 15-20% of a performer’s pay, but that figure can be much higher. For example, Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s manager, received up to 50% of the star’s paycheck.

While agents and managers are compensated differently, they both are paid as a percentage of a performer’s pay, and never receive any payment up front. If your agent or manager insists on being paid in any way other than by straight commission, it’s a good sign that they are not legitimate.

Which type of professional is right for your young performer? That will depend on your needs, goals, and circumstances. Some performers have an agent AND a manager, but that combination could take a hefty percentage of their pay, so if you choose to take that route, make sure your child is getting significant and separate value out of both relationships.