Do you want to kickstart your career as a musician? Do you enjoy performing on a stage in front of your friends, family and fans? Sometimes you cannot do it on your own, which is why you should consider getting an agent or manager. They can help you book gigs, organise your music and make the path to success a little easier. This article explains what should should consider when deciding to engage an agent or manager in New South Wales (NSW).

Can We Still Use the Terms ‘Agent’ and ‘Manager’?

In NSW, agents and managers are governed by the Entertainment Industry Act 2013. The distinction between ‘agent’ and ‘manager’ has since been abolished and replaced with an umbrella term, ‘performer representative’.

However, we still use the terms ‘agent’ and ‘manager’ in practice. This is because different rules apply to the form of agreement and permissible scope of work, depending on whether you are engaging a performer representative as an agent or manager. As a result, this article will use the traditional terms, agent and manager, to explain the practical differences between the two.

What Do You Need to Consider When Engaging an Agent?

An agent’s role is to:

  • seek or find work opportunities for you;
  • negotiate terms and conditions in agreements before performances;
  • finalise arrangements relating to payments due to you;
  • administer agreements between you and entertainment industry hirers; and
  • arrange public attendances and related publicity responsibilities.

The agent provides these services to you under an entertainment industry agreement. This agreement does not have to be in writing. However, it must include the ‘standard’ services you are to receive from the agent and the fees that an agent can charge you.

An agent’s payable fees are capped by the Entertainment Industry Act as follows:

  • for film, television or media, the maximum that an agent can charge is 10% of the total amount payable to you; and
  • for live theatre, musical or variety performances, the maximum that an agent can charge is 10% for any period up to five weeks and then 5% for any period after that.

The Act does not explain whether the threshold is calculated off your gross or net earnings. Therefore, you should consider this before entering into an agreement with an agent.

What Do You Need to Consider When Engaging a Manager?

A manager plays a more significant role in your career development. In addition to what an agent does, they provide career counselling and supervise your business affairs. Therefore, a manager may charge additional fees in excess of the statutory cap, provided you enter into an entertainment industry managerial agreement. This type of agreement must be in writing and:

  • specify that the additional services being provided relate to the management of your reputation and career development;
  • specify the fees payable for those additional services;
  • note that both parties acknowledge the manager is charging extra fees for the additional services they provide; and
  • provide a cooling-off period of three days, so you can seek legal advice and terminate the agreement without penalty.

Who Else Do You Have to Deal With?

You may need to deal with venue representatives and entertainment industry hirers. An entertainment industry hirer is the person who engages or contracts performers like you. A venue representative acts on behalf of an entertainment industry hirer to arrange performances by you at a particular venue. 

What Are the General Obligations of a Performer Representative?

Performer representatives are bound by a code of conduct, which ensures professional and ethical conduct.

Regardless of whether you engage an agent or manager, a performer representative must hold any money received on your behalf in a general trust account. Your representative must then disburse any money owed to you within 14 days of them receiving the money.

The relationship between you and your performer representative is fiduciary. This means that your representative has an obligation to always act in your best interests.

Key Takeaways

You may decide to engage an agent or manager. Either way, you should be aware of the agreements you need to have in place, as well as the type of service your representative offers. Although the NSW legislation does not distinguish between agents and managers, there are some practical differences between the two. If you need assistance to engage an agent or manager, contact LegalVision’s media and entertainment lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Nessim Malak
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