The first step in addressing any problems with the person you hired is to be clear about what that individual or company agreed to do. One essential question is whether you contracted with a talent agent or talent manager; many artists do not understand the difference. Agents and managers have distinct roles and responsibilities in an artist’s career. Before you fire your agent, ensure that you are working with an agent, not a manager. Your issues may be because you hired a manager who cannot legally procure work for you.
Talent agents help artists find employment opportunities, represent them in contract negotiations and ensure artists get paid. Agents are regulated by both federal and state law and union and guild rules. In Florida, agents are required to be licensed with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
In contrast, talent managers generally help shape and develop their clients’ careers. They provide services, such as managing their clients’ daily business and financial activities; assisting with marketing; referring artists to agents, business managers, and publicists; and aiding in talent development. A manager is not legally allowed to procure work for the artist and if the manager represented that he or she could seek employment for the artist, the contract may be null and void.
The next step in ending a talent agency contract in Florida is to review the termination clause in the agreement. Often, agency contracts will have a mutual termination clause that allows either party to end the contract under specified circumstances.
You should also review the rest of the agreement to determine if you have grounds to terminate based on a breach by the agent. If your agent has not performed all their obligations under the contract, you may be able to claim breach of contract and obtain termination for that reason. Generally, agents do not promise to find a specific type or amount of work, but you may be able to establish that they did not make sufficient efforts. Agents have a legal duty to act in the best interests of their clients. An attorney can help you document what the agent did and possibly find a way to resolve the dispute.
Before you try to terminate or threaten to sue, it is generally best to try to address your concerns with your agent directly. Perhaps there is a solution that can save the relationship. If not, your agent may be willing to mutually terminate or negotiate a settlement that allows them to recoup the costs for promotional materials or other expenses.
Resolving the conflict amicably benefits both parties as everyone avoids the time, expense and reputational damage associated with making the dispute public and/or litigating in court. Remaining professional and courteous is good for business for agents and artists alike.
If you cannot resolve your disagreement with your talent agent and want to end your contract, you must have reasonable grounds to terminate. Under Florida law, that means demonstrating that one of the following has occurred:
Regardless of what path you choose, it is important to provide termination notice to your agency to ensure it knows the relationship is ending. You should consult an experienced entertainment attorney before you sign your next agency contract to ensure you get fair terms. If you have already signed an agreement but are unsure about your rights or dissatisfied with the agreement, an attorney can advise you regarding your options and help you resolve your matter successfully.