November 27, 2014
This Isn’t ‘Entourage’: Hollywood’s Talented, Ambitious and Broke
Posted on Oct 3, 2010
By Howie Stier
“This isn’t ‘Entourage.’ All these young people think the music business is what they see on TV, what they read in books. Well, no one has written about the past two years.”
The former agent, whose colleagues were attorneys and MBAs, explains that a base salary of 35-40k would be supplemented by an annual bonus. “You make your money beating the final numbers of the previous years, that could equal your salary and to keep your contract with the agency you need to make more money than the year before. If you brought in $1.5 million, next year you have to bring in $2 million or you’re out. It’s not an easy gig, recession or not.”
But a seasoned agent in his 40s could expect to take in $250,000 a year.
Now, no one is going to make that money, and probably never will again. “Now agents are working twice as hard for half as much,” he says.
“He could get lucky, they could get the next Gaga, the next Britney Spears, but just booking the agency roster that won’t happen.”
Selling albums doesn’t earn money, live acts do, and there are more acts touring the country than ever. But in this recession, smaller venues can’t afford to spend money, and the acts can’t fill the bigger venues. “When Endeavor merged with William Morris, they promised no firings [in the music division]. Gradually they started letting agents go.”
Our source saw a lot of veteran agents fired because they weren’t bringing in the money.
“And in a better economy that would be an ideal situation for a young agent.”
When a reporter points to all the ads for shows, the former agent points out, “In L.A., things are different. People are going out to shows. But you can’t sell out a room in Topeka, Kan.
“I saw career agents spending half their life in the biz being let go? I rather work in a restaurant.”
Now he’s trying to figure out life again, reconciled to lower earnings in a routine job where the occasional burger goes up in smoke, like his glam job dreams.
“[Being an agent] was something I always wanted to do. I was booking shows in high school in my town. But how the hell am I going to get a career position at 35? I’d rather stay in the service industry, live a modest life. Maybe I’ll get lucky with something else.”
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