Whether you’ve been with your modeling agency for only a few months or many years, it’s never easy to cut ties and explore other opportunities. Whatever your reasons for moving on may be, switching agencies is a big deal and you need to make sure the right way and for the right reasons.
Determining if it’s time to move on or not is no easy decision to make and is one that shouldn’t be made rashly. Before you decide to cut ties with your current agency, read below for some things to consider before making the jump.
Wrong Reasons to Leave Your Agency
You’re unhappy but haven’t addressed it: While there is nothing wrong with wanting to switch agencies, you shouldn’t do it just because you’re irritated with a one-off situation with your agent. If there is something you’re unhappy with, the best thing to do is address it immediately and attempt to work through it. Your agent can’t help solve a problem they aren’t aware of. If you voice your concerns and your agent is unresponsive to your needs, then at least you tried and you can move on knowing you did your part to fix the issue.
You just want to be signed to a big-name agency: Bigger isn’t always better. While being on the roster of a big-name agency does come with a certain amount of stature, it still doesn’t guarantee work. It also means lots of top-notch competition and less personal attention by your agent and bookers. Consider sticking with your smaller agency and working directly with your agent on a plan to get you into the more competitive markets.
Right Reasons to Leave Your Agency
A better opportunity arises: If another agency that has better clients, better agents, better pay, and better terms and is interested in signing you, making that move might be just what your career needs to get to the next level. As exciting as that prospect may be though, always still be sure to do your due diligence and fully research the agency before signing.
You don’t get along with your agent: You and your agent don’t need to be best friends, but you do need to have an open, honest, and professional relationship. If you start avoiding communicating with your agent because you’re afraid and/or uncomfortable with speaking to them, or if you are both rude and disrespectful to each other, it’s probably time to just move on.
Your agency gets a bad reputation: Most markets will have multiple modeling agencies, and they’re definitely not created equally. No model wants to be associated with an unprofessional organization that’s known for losing models and clients. You are a reflection of your agency and vice versa, so you want to remove yourself if you discover your agency is known as that agency for all the wrong reasons.
You’ve fallen off the agency radar: Has your agent stopped checking-in with you? No longer booking you job after job? Sure, business might be slow, but your agency also might have stopped submitting you for jobs because they’ve lost interest and you’ve fallen off their radar. If this is the case, it’s time for a serious chat with your agent to find out what’s going on. In an industry that’s constantly getting new faces, you want to make sure you’re still getting the attention you deserve.
Your look is no longer a good fit: If you have a high-fashion look but are signed to an agency that has many more commercial clients than editorial clients, you’ll most likely never get as many bookings as you’d like. This isn’t necessarily your agency’s fault but more of a market/location issue, so it may be time to reevaluate your career goals and where you’ll have the most success. It would be worth having a conversation with your agency about how you’re feeling as they are also most likely aware of the issue.
How to Do It
If you’ve communicated your concerns to your agent and tried your best to work it out but still feel like you need to sign with a new model agency, there are a few things you need to think about before officially parting ways:
The legalities: Before you do anything, you need to read over your modeling contract again. Many contracts require models to give some form of official notice (anywhere from two week to a month) in order to terminate the agreement. There may even be some “loopholes” that allow you to get out of it without notice if the agency hasn’t fulfilled specific duties.
If you leave before properly terminating your contract, you could face legal ramifications, including but not limited to financial penalties. Sometimes, the agency won’t particularly care if you leave (don’t take it personally), and won’t hold you top the contract termination specifications. If this is the case, you should still get the agency to draft an official termination agreement that you both sign, just to cover your back.
Don’t burn bridges: In reality, the modeling industry is an incredibly small world, and the chances that you’re going to run into your former agent or associated professionals at some point in your career is high. This is why it’s so important that you leave your agency on the best terms possible. Do it in person if you can, and be fully open and honest about why you want to part ways. Thank them for all they’ve done, and wish them the best. Never ever badmouth them to other models, agents, or industry professionals. Even if you parted ways on less than ideal terms, spreading gossip will do nothing but also make you look bad. If another model interested in signing with them asks you for a review and why you left, you should be honest, but do not slur them or their image because of hurt feelings.