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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Answering a Reader Question #25

Anonymous Wrote:

Hi, I have been with an agency for over 12 months and have now resigned.They are telling me they can charge me commission if I work for their client direct.I don't think this is possible. My contract had no time limit or information regarding fees which I don't think is legal.Can you advise?


To restate what you've said so that I can make sure I've got the information correct:

Your agent said they could charge you commission if you worked for a client that you found on your own with no assistance from them, correct? If so, I don't believe this is legit...and the only way this would be allowed is if that statement is in your contract. Unfortunately, I have not read your contract but it sounds like you've searched through it pretty thoroughly. You said "their client"...does that mean you have been working a side gig with a client that you booked through your agency in the past? There can be legality issues here when a client who previously worked through the agency decides to go around that and work with the model directly. This is frowned upon by agencies and the industry in general but if nothing is stated directly in your contract, I don't see how the agency can enforce such a rule or have any legal grounds if they wanted to take you to court over the issue to collect monies lost.

All modeling contracts should state the percentage of commission they are allowed by law to charge for each booking they get their models. The current commission percentage is approximately 20%. However, in most cases, this commission can only be charged if they find you work.

Is your contract exclusive or non-exlusive? If it is non-exclusive, the upspoken rule is that they are not allowed to charge commission on any modeling job you get yourself that does not go through the agency. My last agent whom I had a non-exclusive contract with told me in person that any job I got for myself they had no claim to charge commission for. However, this may work differently with an exclusive contract since this type of arrangement pretty much gives the agency control over what you do and who you work with. So knowing whether your contract is exclusive or non-exlusive will help you figure out if what they are saying is legit. That is why many exclusive contract agencies stress that models not find their own work because in many cases, they are not allowed to collect commission. It sounds like your agent may have been greedy and wanted to collect by telling you something different but I don't know that for certain. However, I do give you props for investigating further and not just believing everything they tell you. Good job!

Because of this type of situation, I do encourage that models proceed with caution when it comes to whether they decide to tell their agent that they're booking work on the side or not. Of course if it is a non-exlusive contract, it's more than likely you won't have anything to worry about but if you're under an exclusive contract, then you may run into complications like this one.

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