Why I Give My Agents 10% Of Everything

Hey there!

I’ve heard actors arrogantly ask why in the world they should, if their agent had no part in the booking of a particular job, commission them on the work for that job.

Let me be blunt: it’s the very least you can do for your sales manager, given how little work you get.

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Raw YouTube Captioning

hey there it’s David H Lawrence the 17th
I want to talk to you about a
conversation that I’ve had recently and
many times before this most recent
occurrence where I have had a discussion
and a friendly disagreement with an
actor over the idea that I have about
how we treat our agents I was at the
Union Hall at sag AFTRA and an actor
came over to me he said yeah you know I
saw one of your videos and you casually
mentioned that you commissioned your
agent on everything that you do whether
they had anything to do with it or not
are you nuts what’s wrong with you if
they didn’t have I would never do that
if they didn’t have anything to do with
me getting the job why would I pay them
that’s not what I pay them to do I don’t
pay them to give them money out of my
pocket and let me let me just explain in
case you’ve never heard me talk about
this I have an agent I have agents in a
lot of different areas but I have one
agent in particular who I’ve been with
since mid-2000s like 2005-2006 somewhere
and I had agents before that but I
didn’t really understand their function
I guess it was just something that I
finally learned later in life I mean I
knew what their function was I know what
they do for me and for their other
clients but I didn’t really know how
they spent their day and when I came to
Los Angeles to become an actor one of
the things that I did was intern at both
a large agency a one-man-band
agency so it was just one guy running
the agent which kind of like what my
agent does he’s a boutique agent and I
also interned at a really busy casting
office they cast at the time I was with
them they were casting 11 shows and I
was I was an intern there for about
three years so I really got a chance to
see how the sausage is made I got a
chance to see how casting directors
treat all the agents that contact them
and I got a chance to see how agents
treat casting directors and their
clients and how casting directors treat
the shows and the people that work on
those shows I got a chance to get behind
the scenes on all this stuff and I got
to tell you what I found was
it was attitude changing if I hadn’t
done that there’s a chance that I might
feel the way this actor that I just
spoke with recently and other actors
that I’ve spoke with who disagree with
me on my principle my principle is my
agent in any other business if I was
running a manufacturing business or a
service business to me they would be my
sales director my sales manager my VP of
Sales my marketing director they would
be at a very high level within the
organization because that’s what they do
they spend almost all day submitting
their clients for potential work
and let’s think about this process so
just to be clear I give my agent 10% of
whatever projects I work on whether he
puts me up for the project he closes me
for the project or not if I generate the
project and he closes it or he generates
the project and I close it or any
combination thereof if I was a
manufacturer and as the CEO because
that’s what I am of my business I went
and sold a really big client on a really
big contract do you think I wouldn’t
share that with my sales team do you
think I would say oh yeah you guys don’t
get your 10% because you know I did all
the work
I mean how what do you think they’re
motivated by they’re motivated yes they
have the altruistic motivation of
wanting their clients to succeed and
make them better and you know have them
do bigger jobs and deeper jobs and
longer jobs but their motivation is
money and that’s not a bad thing I want
their motivation to be money because
when they send me out on an audition a
pre read audition which I don’t do very
much anymore but sometimes I do or if
they tell me to do a self tape at home
before an audition before a callback or
before a producer session or I go
straight to producers whatever it is
it’s because they’ve worked really hard
to get me that opportunity and you have
to ask yourself from the very beginning
of the process how many times do they
submit me before somebody says yeah
bring it we’ll bring David and sure
absolutely a lot more than I get called
in for and that’s the same for every
actor I don’t care what level you’re at
so let’s just start with a hundred we’ll
start with a hundred submissions and
they’re submitting people all day long
so it’s a hundred here for this actor
100 for not not in one day but you know
in general out of that hundred it varies
but let’s just say two to five of those
say yes all right so that’s two to five
percent so far as a hit rate and we’re
not anywhere near getting booked and
getting paid so go in for pre read of
the people that come in for the pre read
the fifty or a hundred people that they
call in for the pre reads they pull back
three five ten depends on what the show
has asked them to do I only want to see
a certain number blah blah blah
so now you’ve cut that by a tenth all
right so then the callback comes and
maybe I nail the callback then it’s me
against some other people and maybe I
get pinned for something or maybe I’m
put on a veil for
eventually out of the 250,000 actors
that are members of the unions around
the world and the number of roles that
are available one person gets booked for
each one of those roles so can you see
how the numbers game goes from massive
numbers of submissions to very small
numbers of being called in to even
smaller numbers of callbacks to even
smaller numbers of being put on a veil
and pinned to even smaller numbers of
getting booked the most minor numbers
but yet the agents do all that work so
let’s say out of will the average we
already know the out of the average sag
after actor one out of every 200
submissions they get I’m sorry one out
of every 200 auditions they get booked
on one out of every 200 and how many
submissions does it take to get an
audition the point here is after you get
booked and the agent does the great work
of negotiating your fees and making sure
that the contract is right and that
you’re being treated at the level that
you’ve achieved in the business and
fighting against the whole idea of
dropping rates and keeping your quote up
and all the things that they do how dare
I not share in the spoils of that
relationship with my agent no matter
what the project is I mean I remember
when I used to be with a voiceover agent
and I would bring a check in to the
woman that ran the agent every year plus
a plate of brownies and she would be
like what’s this for what is this all
for because it was books and and you
know existing clients that I had and
returns and things that she hadn’t
expected but I want her motivated
I want my all my agents to be motivated
and I want them to be motivated by money
it’s not a bad thing that
motivated by money you want them to go
out and get money for you so they can
get money for themselves that’s the
whole goal that’s why that’s why sales
departments have contests in any other
business they have contests right they
have you know special prizes and
vacations and conventions and you know
they have any number of different things
your agent sits there in his or her
office all day long plugging you and
occasionally you get called in and
occasionally from that you get called
back I actually have a pretty good
callback rate and a Kate very
occasionally something goes way wrong
and they booked me right
for all that work
if I get booked you know if I’m my quote
for a tapas show is $10,000 my agent
will get $1,000 of that and that’s gonna
cover all of the work that they’ve done
to get me to that point if I go in for a
day shot for only scale
it’s like close to $1,000 they make a
hundred bucks for all the work that it
took them to get there they make a
hundred bucks are you kidding me that’s
AG scale luckily I have a quote and I
get a little bit more than that from
from time to time I just look at this
all from a very different perspective of
this cheap is the best way I can
describe it actor who absolutely
wouldn’t even consider sharing with his
agent if he worked out some deal on the
side and got some gig on the side and
figured something out and I just I can’t
live like that I can’t
I want my agent on that wall right I
need him on that wall I want him on that
wall you know um and I wonder what you
think about all that I wonder if if you
think I’m crazy like a couple of people
in my life maybe five or six people and
the whole time that I’ve been been you
know taking actors out to lunch and talk
to them about my strategy and my tactics
I want my team to be happy I want my
agent to be happy I want him to think oh
for David I’m gonna go the extra mile
I want him to be motivated and he’s a
friend too you know it’s not because of
my attitude about money it’s because
we’re all pulling in the same direction
he’s on my team just as surely as my
coaches are for vo – go go and my tech
guys are from my websites and my app and
it just to me it’s like what is it that
makes them tick give them more of that
that’s my point what do you think leave
me a comment if you are on vo – go go
comm leave me a comment below this video
if you’re not on vo to go to go comm if
you’re watching this on youtube go to vo
the numeral – go go comm and let me know
what you think because that’s where the
conversation is nice and sane and
easygoing and no haters and no trolls if
you’d like to join my youtube channel
and get notified when these videos come
out because we’re doing one a day for
the entire year it’s the challenge that
I’ve put myself up for go ahead and
click on my head there if you don’t see
a head then look for a subscribe button
somewhere on this page and if you’d like
to see the latest episode of these
videos that I’ve done click on that
frame and YouTube will play it for you
I’m David H Lawrence 217th I thank you
so much for watching and I’ll talk to
you tomorrow.

16 Responses to Why I Give My Agents 10% Of Everything

  1. Jonathan G. Rodriguez May 24, 2019 at 7:58 am #

    I do the same thing eve if they didn’t get me the job I give them that 10% so they can see I also hustle on my own and the I’m Bookable

  2. Linda May 24, 2019 at 7:59 am #

    David thank you. I have always thought that it was only right to commission my agent as well. Thanks for the confirmation.

  3. Kirsten May 24, 2019 at 8:30 am #

    To live with generosity, in my opinion, is a good way to be. Now about your being crazy ……. that’s a whole ‘nutha matter – hahahahahahaaa

  4. Heather Leavens August May 24, 2019 at 11:55 am #

    I have a friend and her partner who own one of the most successful real estate firms in the Truckee/Lake Tahoe area. All commissions from all their agents as well as their own, are shared with their staff from the receptionist to the title people to the brokers. It’s about appreciation of the team. Everyone shares in everyone’s success because they all have a stake in it. Simple. And gracious.

  5. Patricia Napolitano May 24, 2019 at 2:22 pm #

    You say you have several agents. So which agent do you share with on any particular job?

  6. T May 24, 2019 at 2:31 pm #

    Well done David!!!

  7. David H. Lawrence XVII May 24, 2019 at 2:55 pm #

    My main agent in any category (not my regional agents).

  8. Bill Johnston May 24, 2019 at 7:28 pm #

    Do I think you’re crazy? No. I think you are Enlightened.

  9. Doug Fairbanks May 24, 2019 at 7:43 pm #

    I have never been in a position to need or have an agent, but what you day makes perfect sense to me. People seem to forget that you need to prime the pump before you can get the water. Good practical info as always. Thanks!

    • Doug Fairbanks May 24, 2019 at 7:45 pm #

      Day = say I hate spellcheck!

  10. Rich Masotti May 25, 2019 at 9:30 am #

    Thank you, David. I have loved this concept since I first heard you share it in my VO2GoGo lessons. This too is my goal. But here’s a question. Should we wait to cut these checks on an annual or semi-annual or quarterly basis, or can a slow starter like me send a commission each time I get paid? The dollar amounts might be small at first but I’d like to surprise my VO agent soon. Thanks for your time!

  11. David H. Lawrence XVII May 25, 2019 at 11:05 am #

    I do it once a year (with a plate of brownies or whatever they happen to like). Makes the check bigger.

  12. Victoria Prather May 28, 2019 at 2:12 pm #

    Love this and totally agree!

  13. Todd May 28, 2019 at 10:28 pm #

    Great minds David. Giving 10% of everything to your agent is 100% the right thing to do. I have always done the same. I believe it is a manifestation of grit.

  14. Tanya May 29, 2019 at 10:31 pm #

    This video caused me to stop and think! Never, ever thought about it that way. Thank you.

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