Agents are people, too! In this episode, Toronto-based talent agent Roger King discusses the relationship between voice artists and their talent agents. The agent/talent relationship is a strange dynamic as the agent works for the talent yet the talent is the one who is interviewed. Looking for representation? Agents are always keeping their eyes and ears open for new talent who present themselves to be authentic. Listen to Roger’s podcast to better understand how to approach an agent.
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Roger King is the President of PN Agency which provides voice-over talent to the radio, television, film, multi-media and animation industries. In 2004, he launched a sister agency, Ethnic Voice Talent (EVT), and now represents over 100 voice over talents and translators in more than 15 different languages.
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Roger King: Ah that British woman who always introduces this podcast just never recognizes me; she never calls me by name.
Anyway this is Roger King with another in the fine Voice Over Experts series; I have done a few of these before and always enjoy them. I’m a voice talent agent so I have a little different perspective perhaps than some of the other Voice Over Experts. I run PN Agency which is a Toronto based voice talent agency; we have a Toronto roster and a Montreal roster, and perhaps other cities to come in the near future.
We also have ethnic voice talent where we represent voice talents in many different languages and I blog about all of this from the perspective of a voice talent agent at the Voice Over Canada blog which can be found at Voiceovercanada.ca, or on Twitter @voiceovercanada.
Today I thought I’d talk a little bit about the agent/talent relationship and always I like to call these podcasts Secrets of an Agent Man.
So who is an agent? Well we’re just people, there is no great mystery, we like to work with talented, cool and sane people. We like to be entertained, we appreciate sincere flattery. We’re definitely people-persons and, most importantly, I think what makes most of us become agents in the first place, beyond dreams of attractive real estate properties financed entirely by talent commissions, is the rush that comes from meeting a truly talented person and wanting to get them work, wanting to be a big part of getting them where they should be – that excitement of really believing in a talent and working from the heart for them.
That’s how a lot of agents and managers, and even publicists, get started; they meet someone they think is talented and they want to promote that person. And if they do a good job, then it’s the combo other wanting to collaborate with such a passionate agent and the agent seeking out other exciting talents.
I’ve talked about this before in a couple of other podcasts and some of my posts on voiceovercanada but the agent/talent relationship is a strange dynamic because, people tend to forget this – the agent works for the talent yet the talent [isn’t] the one who gets interviewed – the agent makes the decision to bring the talent on board the roster. The agent decides whether he or she wants to work for the talent, so it’s sort of odd. Imagine if you went to a job interview where you got to decide whether you took the job. I mean obviously if someone offers you a job you get to decide but in the actual interview, imagine if you could decide who you’re going to work for.
But again, the agent works for the talent and I think a lot of talents forget that and sort of are intimidated or put the agent maybe higher up on a pedestal than he or she needs to be. So that’s a little about who agents are and the relationship with talent.
But I want to address the most common question I’m asked, besides where’s my cheque, which is what are you looking for? And I have covered this is a couple of the other podcasts; you can click on my name on the Voice Over Experts page and find those podcasts. But I do get that question, what are you looking for? And it’s a tough one, I’m not sure I can answer it any better professionally that I could personally when I was single.
Once an agent has an established roster, we’re never really looking for anything in particular unless a strange casting call comes in for say a talent who sounds like a combo of Irish and African American – then I’m looking for an Irish African American. But when we have an established roster, we’re always in this weird scenario where in theory we’re not really looking for anything but, as an agent, you always have to be open to new talents.
So any agent who says they’re not looking or the rosters closed is probably lying because we always have to keep our eyes and ears open for new talents or to fill little holes in the roster. But if you’re a voice talent, I don’t think you should ever ask the question, what are you looking for? Because it implies you’re potentially willing to present something that isn’t authentic. Is my answer to that question going to change your approach, what you do or what’s on your demo? You need to do what you do and do it well.
I mean if I said I’m looking for a guy who can voice grandfather roles in radio and TV spots and you’re 27 years old, what would be your response? You’d probably send me your demo anyway. Or if I said I’m only looking for voices who sound 20 years old and you’ve been in radio for 35 years, that’s kind of where the conversation ends.
So the short answer is an agent is always looking for, or at least interested in, an exciting, unique, professional voice who doesn’t care what the agent is looking for.
So that’s a little about the agent/talent dynamic. I did a previous podcast called What your Agent should and shouldn’t be doing for you – you could look that one up as well. And I’ll probably have more thoughts on this ongoing discussion in future.
Secrets of an Agent Man. Once again look me up on Twitter @voiceovercanada and you can read the blog posts at voiceovercanada.ca. For now this is Roger King, and that’ll be all.
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