Real agencies make their money by finding you work. The product that an agent sells is their models! Not website profiles, not photos, not comp cards, not conventions, not classes, but YOU.
Agencies make their money by charging a commission. They take a commission from the models earnings, usually 20% and another from the client called an agency fee. Since they make money ONLY when their models do, they are usually very picky about who they represent.
Legitimate agencies do not make any money unless the model has worked. However, with so many young girls wanting to be models, many ‘fake’ agencies have developed.
The difference between a fake agency and a real one? That’s easy, real agents work on finding work for their models and only get paid when they do. Fake agents work on getting models to pay them fees without ever finding them work.
Many new models get taken in by these fake agencies because getting models, not clients is their business. To protect yourself from falling for these ‘fake’ agents you need to know the warning signs.
Real agencies do not advertise or run ads for new models. They don’t need to. Models go looking for them, not the other way around. Real agents need to book THEIR models to actually make money and therefore spend their time finding their models work. Fake agents spend their time recruiting new models because they don’t care if they ever get work.
Protect yourself from the fake agencies by learning the difference.
Real agencies are real businesses which means they have an office that is open 9 to 5. They are closed on weekends because their clients are. They are following their clients times not the models since they are paid by clients and not upfront by models. Anyone who has extended hours or asks you to come in on an evening or weekend you should be suspicious of.
Since real agencies only get paid if you do, they will normally not want to bothered with models who don’t fit the criteria. For example, an agency that deals with high fashion will not interview short models. Short just does not fit the criteria.
If you are attending a casting call or interview with an agency make sure to take note of any other models there. Do they look like they belong at the same interview? Fake agents don’t care what models look like since they will never try to find them work.
Real agencies need a license. Look to see if one is hanging on the wall and if not ask to see it.
Real agents do not want upfront fees. An agency that makes money from charging models fees is most likely a scam. Most legit agents will also not have a photo service in house or any other service that a model must pay for like classes. That is not to say that an agency cannot recommend a photographer, but they should not be asking you for money for them. The photographer should be a separate business and models would pay the photographer themselves. Agents should only recommend, they should not insist that the model use their photographer.
Unfortunately many wanna be models get taken by the fakes because the fakes take anyone with money while real agents do not. Legit agents do not have sales people or telemarketers, fake agents do.
A real agent will not make promises. Agents can only send you to see clients, they cannot guarantee that those clients will hire you. Fake agents make lots of promises they cannot keep and many use lines that feed your ego such as telling you that they will make you a star.
When you go in for an appointment take a good look around. Does the office look like one that is setup to do real business or does it look like everything is geared to getting models? Does it look like people are working or does it look like everyone is there to cater to the models feeling special?
Find out what else they do in that office. Many training programs and schools use ‘fake’ model casting calls to get wanna be models in the door then try to sell modeling classes. A real agency will never be part of a training program or school.
Many states have passed laws to stop the modeling scams. In many states it is illegal for schools and photographers to pretend to be agents, however many still are in business.
Before signing anything be sure to do your research. Check with the BBB to see what the companies main business is and if there are any complaints.
Always remember that an agency only gets paid if you do. If anyone asks for money to represent you it is a sure way to know they are one of the modeling agency scams.