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Patricia Handshiegel

Digital Dish covers the ins and outs of an Internet executive moving into the television arena. Disher Patricia Handschiegel is the founder of Stylediary.net, which she sold to Stylehive.com in November 2007. She has a background in Internet infrastructure and technology business, was an advisor to Kaboodle.com (sold to Hearst in 2007), and has contributed as an entertainment/media business writer for Venturebeat.com. She’s also been an early visionary of professional Internet TV content since 2005 and is currently an advisor on several entertainment/Internet projects. Always an entrepreneur, she had a highly profitable babysitting monopoly at 11, lent her writing skill to students at 17 and landed her first published national article at 23.

She has also worked as a ghost writer for a national TV correspondent. At 22, she was recognized nationally for promoting the growth of women’s hockey and advised companies on creating hockey products for women. She’s been quoted and profiled in dozens of media outlets since and is currently developing two book concepts. A serial entrepreneur, she plans to continue to build Internet, entertainment and media companies, with the goal of promoting social change and charities. She is currently involved in the use of technology to help find missing and abused children, and has contributed financially to TheJoyfulChild.org and other organizations. She is the founder of Look|Shop|List.com (in development).

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Is the Internet Creating a Scary Crystal Ball for Talent Firms?

December 11, 2008 11:44 AM

In my last post, I briefly mentioned that I have been hearing and seeing a lot of producers, writers and talent expressing interest in launching Web projects but that they’re unsure about how to do it. Many have said that despite agencies offering digital departments, agents/managers aren’t able to truly guide them on what to do.

This past week at an event, many mused about how one firm’s digital representative appeared as if he “didn’t have a clue.”

Not long before, at two separate business lunches with companies that have fairly solid brands, I heard a similar sentiment: When they met with talent firms, they left feeling unconvinced that working with a firm would bring any value to their project, so they decided to work without. It joins stories of managers blatantly lying about their connections and relationships, agents blowing off important calls that could have made money, and situations where reps didn’t have the experience to put a project together or push it through.

Increasingly, I hear more people talking about forgoing representation and working independently within the market. With the Internet offering the opportunity to get in front of companies directly, I’m not surprised.

It prompted me to write today’s post: Will the Web someday disrupt talent agencies? Is it already now?

It’s an interesting thought. I’ve heard that Angelina Jolie forgoes working with representation, but I’m not sure other stars necessarily could, should or would. It takes a great deal of work and time to set up and take meetings, maintain relationships, etc., and I know firsthand that agents and managers can sometimes open doors that could take months to otherwise do.

Doing so also requires one to be relatively business-savvy. Not everybody has that skill.

But as the barrier of entry to the market widens because of the Internet, and more move in from outside business verticals, I can imagine that in some ways, firms could be threatened. Given that I have heard even top talent talk about agents and managers being “lost” when it comes to pushing digital projects, it seems possible that new agencies with Web know-how could crop up as competition—and more than likely do just as well in traditional arenas like TV, too.

The business has a pretty set system. Once it’s learned, it’s pretty easy to make contacts and moves.

I for one would prefer to see talent firms stay in the game, though I have had my fair share of ups and downs with reps, too. Entertainment’s business processes can be easily learned but hard to navigate, and going it alone can leave one vulnerable to bad (and costly!) experiences. Plus, busy business people (like myself) don’t necessarily have the time to do the work.

Will any of the above points affect or change the business, though? I wonder. Let me know your thoughts!

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Comments (6)

_AJ_:

I think talent agencies have to get in the game to stay in business but maybe they could go with a younger generation to make it work for them? Most seem to be doing things but I do think the digital world is still - almost 15 years later - daunting to them. Sounded like EQAL was able to get some sponsorship doors opened recently via a talent agency. So, there is efficient value (as you mention) to working with them but, maybe, it needs to have the right caliber person within?

@AJ, smaller people doing smaller things have gotten in front of big brands, though. The web opens up a lot. I think it's not about working with a younger generation but that markets take a combined team of real internet people with traditional entertainment people now. It should be internet business people who know how to put together a project end to end, regardless of age. just the same internet people wanting to do entertainment things will fare better having people from it on their end as well.

@KitzieStern As a working voice talent I'm repped by several agencies. But I'm also learning to use social media to explore the possibilities of building relationships within a network. Whether this leads to more bookings remains to be seen, but I'm pretty new at this so we'll talk in a year or so. Meanwhile, I'm having fun exploring.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post. I'll tweet to my VO network.

Kitzie Stern

"Work from home Entrepreneurs" are picking up steam in so many different lines of work, especially in voice talent. These days, it's much easier to find a talent on line and work directly with them instead of going through the whole agency headache.

As a TV News Anchor in a major market, I rarely found it productive to have an agent. Now, segueing into what I plan to be full-time voice-acting within the next few years, I find that agents have failed to give me a compelling reason to join their firms...only roadblocks. Must be union. Must live in LA or NY. Must have had major clients already. Must have ISDN. They really don't want clients in voice-acting that I can see. I'm doing just fine on my own, networking, marketing, and finding my clients online.

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