Here’s a question that I recently got from a reader:
I’m a female comedian/storyteller who’s been in the business for about three years. I’d really like to open up some performance and exposure opportunities for myself by getting a commercial agent. Only problem is, I don’t know how to go about that. I’ve heard that the best way to get an agent is to have someone in the industry who already has an agent refer you. But the people that I know with agents are not extremely close friends of mine, and I don’t want to impose such a big favor. Any advice?
Seeking help and an agent.
Now before I reply I want to say that landing a commercial agent isn’t exactly my area of expertise, so take these suggestions with a grain of salt. That said, here’s a couple ideas that may help…
In general, you’re probably correct that the best path to landing an agent is to have a recommendation from somebody who already has an agent, but that’s far from the only way to make it happen. You didn’t say where you live, but I would assume that your chances of landing a commercial agent will be exponentially higher if you live in New York or Los Angeles. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do it from elsewhere, but I’m guessing it will be much more difficult that way.
Location aside, I think you should focus your energy on trying to develop a relationship with an agent or somebody that works at an agency in any way that you can. Rather than just sending somebody some info about yourself and begging them to represent you, maybe you can figure out a way to develop a relationship with an agent in a way that they get to know you first (and will then be much more likely to want to help you out).
Assuming you know the names of some commercial agents or agencies that you’d like to get to, search for them on Twitter and/or Facebook and try to follow them. Then interact with them on those social networking sites in genuine ways (don’t just pester them about repping you) and maybe you can start to build a relationship with them. All you really want to do is try to connect with them to the point where you can eventually ask them to consider repping you – they may decline, but at least you can get yourself on their radar.
Another idea would be to reach out to those agencies and see if you can work there – either in a paying job or as an intern or volunteer. It might be a little work, but it’s another way to get yourself in the door and get them to know who you are. Plus, you’ll probably learn a lot about the business and will have a better understanding of how it works and what they’re looking for that will help you in the long run.
If you can’t hook up with anybody via social networking and don’t have time to actually work in an agent’s office, then maybe you can come up with a creative excuse for them to meet with you that has nothing to do with you pitching them to rep you. For example, if you have a blog you can reach out to an agent and ask them if you can interview them for a post on your blog. People like getting attention and being considered experts in their field, so the chances are that the same person who would never take your call if you were looking for representation will be more than happy to spend an hour talking to you for an interview for your blog.
All of these things are excuses for you to make a contact with somebody who may be able to help you down the road. There’s no guarantee they will of course, but you should be able to at least open a couple doors and get to know some people.
One final note: if you’re having a hard time getting any agents to pay attention to you, aim lower. Almost every agent started as an agent’s assistant and you’d be surprised how helpful those assistants can be. Agents’ assistants are also a lot easier to get to pay attention to you because they are also looking to discover those hidden gems that they can bring in to their bosses and help further their own career. Basically, they’re as hungry as you are so it’s in both of your interests to help each other.
Again, you should be able to use Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn to track down assistants and lower level employees at agencies and reach out to them to see if they can help you. Even if they can’t help you now, those agents’ assistants will be agents soon enough and they may be able to help you then.
Hope this helps and if anybody else has a question for me, feel free to email me any time.