Difference between Manager and Agent

By: | Updated: Jan-30, 2018

When you are in the creative business, your main concern should be your work and your evolution as an artist. You are not simply punching in numbers or doing physical and mindless labor. Creation itself is a demanding process. Therefore, how does finding jobs, negotiating contracts and running after producers fit in with personal help? With the help of an agent or a manager, that’s how. Just in case you do not know what each of them does, keep reading this article. You never know how your career may evolve.

Summary Table

Is in charge with guiding a performerIs in charge with getting the performer hired
Works on his ownWorks in an agency
Cannot negotiate contractsCannot produce their client’s work
Can charge a commission of 10-30% from everything the client does under his guidanceCan charge a commission of 10% from all contracts that go through
Usually works with people who already have a careerIs the first person hired by someone aspiring to work in show business
Only works with a few clients at a timeCan work with a lot of clients
Works for his client and can take care of other thingsThe job is usually limited to getting a client gigs


man in suit

A manager is a self-employed person who provides career advice in the creative industries. Therefore, they are in charge of the evolution of the performer. The job of a manager consists of guiding the young talent towards a successful career and in advising against decisions that might ruin it. They can recommend classes, can help a performer pick between two gigs that come at the same time and decide which one would open more doors.

Traditionally, a manager spends time with the client and offers consultation on anything career wise. They work on retainer and can charge between 10% and 30% of all gross income made. In some cases, the managers of big stars take care of everything image related. They buy plane tickets, book hotel rooms and take care of anything that can be associated with a celebrity’s image, like the clothes they wear, where they eat and what they drink.

An agent works for an agency and is in charge of getting a performer as many auditions as possible. Normally, an agent is the first person in show business an aspiring talent contacts, because this is the person who gets them jobs. Therefore, every agent will ask for marketing materials from the client: headshots, video reels and all other forms of presentations.

Within an agency, every agent is in charge of scouring the production houses and other similar businesses for job openings. They then recommend the clients best suited for the part and send them to audition. They work on a commission of 10% of contracts that go through.

Manager vs Agent

So what is the difference between manager and agent, then?

While both serve the best interest of the client, their roles differ. Overall, the agent is in charge with keeping the career going with constant calls to auditions and recommendations for other types of jobs. A manager must guide every step of a career and must make sure the young talent makes the right decisions.

While most people start off with an agent, those who take their careers seriously end up employing a manager as well. For others, a manager discovers their talent and introduces the right agent.

As far as work regulations go, the law has more to say about what agents do. They need to work out of offices, they cannot take more than 10% and they cannot produce their client’s work. A manager, on the other hand, cannot negotiate contracts. Only an agent can do this.

A manager can work out of home or at the home of the client. Since the job is more about consulting, there are no clear limitations on commission and they get to take a part of everything done under their guidance. They can take as much as 30% and, unlike agents, they can produce.

Another difference between them consists in the number of clients. An agent will work with over 100 clients, while a manager will guide around 20 actors at a time.

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