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Why Would A Voice Over Agent Drop
You? Sometimes The Decision Isn't Easy
August 31, 2015

By Roger King
Voice Over Talent Agent

Sometimes I feel like PN Agency is the equivalent of Hotel California Ė you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.

Percentage-wise, we actually do not have that many talents who have left the roster. There are a few who went union or moved out the city/country. There were a few who got too busy with other aspects of their lives/careers.

And yes, in a few instances, weíve had to let people go because they missed sessions or were generally unprofessional.

But, on the whole, once people get on the roster, they generally seem to stay there.

Of course, on any roster, you have a spectrum of voices - in terms of ability and how much work they get. Talent is obviously a big factor in your earning potential, but other factors come into play as well.

WHAT KEEPS YOU ON ROSTER?

First, is a person generally available?

We have some creative voices who have very busy schedules outside the voice over world. We still keep them on board because they are good at what they do, but they just donít get that much work because we can only submit them for things that fit that tight schedule.

Now, if youíre only available every 3rd Wednesday, youíre probably not going to stay on the roster unless you have some incredible vocal skill that no one else has.

On that note, there are niche voices who have their place on our roster, but they have to get used to the idea of the work being quality over quantity.

The woman who sounds like a 12 year-old girl is valuable, as is the older "European soundingĒ gentleman - but neither can expect a plethora of casting calls in any given year.

ARE YOU GETTING HIRED?

But what about the voices who simply do not get much work?

Itís not a question of talent per se, because we would not have brought them on board in the first place if we didnít think they had talent.

But sometimes it just doesnít work - and not because of anything you can put your finger on, like a disagreeable personality or an opiate addiction.

As an agent, Iíve had a number of experiences with talents where Iíve asked myself - why canít I get her more work? It doesnít cost the agency any money to keep a talent on the roster, but thereís obviously not much point in someone taking up a roster space if he/she is not booking gigs.

TOUGH DECISION ...

And thatís the toughest moment as an agent. How long do you stick with a talent? There are no easy answers to this.

I know some agents who do an annual purge: parting ways with 8-10 talents who just arenít getting gigs.

Others just wait for talents to leave or seemingly donít mind having a large roster with a mix of people who book all the time and those who only book every lunar eclipse.

I have never done a purge - but Iíve sure thought about it (rubs his hands with a devilish smile).

WHAT DO OTHER AGENTS DO?


Iím curious to open this up to other agents.
  • Do you do periodic purges of the roster?
  • If so, all at once, or a couple of talents here or there?
  • Is there a set time frame you give talents in terms of evaluating how they are doing on the roster?
And Iím also curious about the talentís perspective:
  • How long do you give an agent before you move on?
  • What reasons would make you decide to move on besides just not getting enough auditions/work?
Feel free to answer in the comments section below.
-------------------------
ABOUT ROGER 
Roger King is the president of Peformance Network (PN) Agency, which provides voice over talent to the radio, television, film, multi-media and animation industries. In 2004, he launched a sister agency, Ethnic Voice Talent (EVT), and now represents over 100 voice over talents and translators in more than 15 different languages. He also writes a lively and informative blog, Voice Over Canada.

PN Agency: www.pnagency.com
Ethnic Voice Talent: www.ethnicvoicetalent.com 
Email: pnagency@pnagency.com 
Blog: www.voiceovercanada.ca
Twitter: @voiceovercanada


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Comments (9)
dc goode
9/3/2015 at 4:40 PM
Thanks Roger,
It's ALWAYS great to hear from your side of the equation.
I've always contended that EVERY talent should have to work in an agency for a month, before hitting the audition trail.
Oh...and I still think agents should get at least 15%. :-)

cheers,
dc

Hey Larry, When are we gonna have coffee dude!?
Fran Tunno
9/3/2015 at 12:16 PM
Thanks for the interesting post, Roger. I've often wondered about this very question. How long is too long before you move from one agent to another? And how often does the average voice actor book work?
Bob Bergen
9/2/2015 at 4:28 PM
There are lots of reasons an actor would move on to another agent. Often, not booking is not the reason to move on. Actors need to evaluate why they aren't booking. You cannot blame the agent if you aren't booking.

That said, you also might need to evaluate the clout of your agent. Some buyers might listen to the larger "A" list agent's submissions before the smaller boutique agencies. It's cool to be a big fish in a small pond. But there might come a time you need to take the gamble and swim in a bigger pond. Your career will not grow without risk.

No matter how big an agency you are with, you need to know how to agent your agent. First of all, don't just communicate with your agent when you have something to complain about. Put yourself in their shoes. Let your agent know when you are having fun, even if it's just an audition. Thank them from time to time. Your agent only gets paid when you work, which means they are working for free on your behalf most of the time.

Your agent should always return phone calls and emails in a timely manner. But there's a fine line between being proactive and being a nudge. Don't "just check in." Have a reason to touch base. It's never slow! Trust me, IT'S NEVER SLOW! If there are no commercials to audition for this week, there will be promos. No Promos? There will be games, or narration, etc. If you are a one-note talent, then get thee to classes and up the vo genres/demos so your agent has more TO represent. And every waking moment you aren't auditioning or working you should be marketing.

When you ARE having issues with your representation, communicate with them in a professional, and non confrontational way. Ask what you, the actor, can be doing to better benefit your career. Trust me, the agent gets it. Also, your agent is NOT a mind reader. They need to know what you want out of your career. And your agent gets 10%, you need to do 90.

When it is time to move on, it should not be a shock to your agent. There should have been many conversations leading up to this decision. Give them a chance to make good. And when it's time to leave, whatever the reason, keep that door open. You never know where you or your agent will end up some day.
Greg B
9/2/2015 at 1:40 PM
So, as a beginner, what's the best way to find an agent that specializes in VO talent???
Wes Cunningham
9/2/2015 at 10:36 AM
Roger:

Enjoyed your article. I'm having trouble hooking up with an agent. Visit http://www.wescunninghamvoice.com and tell me if I should quit my day job. Wait a minute...voiceover IS my day job!!!
Bettye zoller
9/2/2015 at 12:20 AM
Well written, concise and thoroughly true. The fact is, your agent is not your mom, friend or pal! It's business and money.
Mark Driscoll
9/1/2015 at 9:01 PM
I liked your article on agents. Thanks!
Mark
Roger King
9/1/2015 at 4:02 PM
Larry: I think if an agent is not particularly known for his/her voice roster, it can sometimes be tough for the talents on that roster to get work. Voice casting directors might throw out casting to these agents from time to time, but if it's not a priority with the agency, they are likely just doing the bare minimum for voice artists.
Larry Wayne
9/1/2015 at 3:38 PM
Roger...it's not that my agent wants to dump me. But rather, should I dump her? My San Francisco agent brings me auditions from great companies...but it's been over a year since I've won a gig thru her. I am seeing good income from other sources, but not from her. We have no contractual agreement, so I would assume that giving her 30 days would be appropriate. Honestly, just been too busy to seek other representation right now.

Here is my question...because she deals in vo as a sort of subset of her main business, which is foto and models, etc., do voice seekers have a tendency to not even listen to auditions from her? I have no way of knowing what actually happens to my audition once it is uploaded.
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