By Michele Smith
Facebook – MicheleSmithMarketing

The excitement begins with an agency wanting to sign you and this is thrilling, because agencies will not sign a model unless they feel they can make money off of you. How does one understand a contract with a modeling agency? As with any contract, there are basic elements, but here are the ones that you should keep an eye out for. First of all. take a close look at the contract terms. If the contract is for three to seven years, keep in mind if the agency is not doing their job representing you, you are most likely stuck with them for the duration of the contract. Please keep in mind it is very costly to break a modeling contract. Typical terms should be one to two years.  This length is more reasonable, especially considering if you want to switch modeling agencies.

In addition to contract length, take a look to see if there is an escape clause. Most reputable agencies will have a termination clause in their contract, in case one of the parties is not happy. This comes into play for example, if the model is not happy with income or the number of bookings. An escape clause will give you the option to get out of the contract in six months to a year, if there are any issues. The same clause comes into effect if the agency is not happy with the model as well. If there is not an escape clause in your modeling contract, this is something that can be negotiated.

The next thing to look for is whether or not there is an exclusivity agreement. Exclusivity typical means that a model can only get work through their agent and also cannot even sign up for work on their own. Exclusivity is usually only found in agreements with the top modeling agencies or with an agency operating in a top market (Los Angeles, New York, etc.)

What commissions should a model expect an agency to take? The answer to the question here highly depends on whether the jobs are union-regulated or not. Print and runway work are never part of unions and as result, commissions are highly unregulated in these areas. Many agencies are strict and take only a 10% commission, but on the flipside non-union agencies may take anywhere from 15% – 20%.  Another common question is when the model will receive compensation for their jobs. Union assignments are regulated and typically the model with get paid anywhere from 15 – 30 days.  Unfortunately, some agencies stipulate that the talent with not get paid until the agency gets paid. This means that the model is assuming the risk of not being compensated for their work at all.  On the flipside, some agencies will pay commissions regardless. The important takeaway is to always discuss numbers with your agency before you sign so there are no surprises. Most importantly, if the contract is too complicated for you to understand consider seeking a review from an attorney.