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!