A modeling agency (often referred to as model management) is an organization whose function is to recruit and hire aspiring and prospective models to expose them to career opportunities within the fashion industry. An agency is responsible for ”booking, billing and breading” – booking the model for jobs, billing the client for the completed job and paying the model for his or her work. The agency makes money based on commission or a percentage of the model’s pay per job. This percentage can range from 10% to 20% and is normally established in a contractual agreement between model and agency prior to booking any jobs. This process allows the model to focus on their career and removes the stress related to the business details.
Legitimate modeling agencies have reputable, established business contacts that can provide access to private casting calls and modeling jobs that models might not otherwise be privy to. Agencies have the resourcefulness to negotiate deals on behalf of the model for clients such as fashion designers, photographers and advertising agencies. Bottom line: an agency can present new models before people who probably would never look in their direction. For these very reasons, obtaining an agency should be a top priority for serious models looking to further their modeling career.
Modeling agencies are ever in search of fresh faces to add to their roster. A big supply of models normally yields a big demand from the industry because clients have a variety of talent to choose from. However, quantity is not the most important factor; quality is chief. Top model agencies have strict requirements that potential models must meet before acceptance. Upon approval, most agencies will invest in the model (training, test shoots, portfolios, comp cards, etc.) to better his or her chances for success thereby increasing the overall status of the agency within the fashion industry. Although most agencies don’t charge models upfront fees for their services, it should be noted they are not entirely free. An agency is a business; their goal is to generate income, not expenses. When a new model signs with an agency and starts booking gigs, the commission that the model pays to the agency covers the initial investment. Summarily, the agency invests in the model and the model repays the agency for the investment as well as the vast accessibility to career opportunities.
There are different kinds of agencies so it is wise to know the requirements before you pursue them. For example, a fashion agency will not have the same requirements as a commercial agency. Some specialize in a specific area of modeling while others have several departments. Also, a model can be signed to more than one agency but restrictions do apply. For example, let’s say a model signs a non-exclusive contract with an agency in New York. This agency may allow the model to sign with other agencies but only outside of a 75 mile radius of the agency’s location. Top agencies represent geographic regions as well as models. To have a model sign with direct competition one block over is not good business for the agency.