Modeling Agency – Exclusive Versus Non-Exclusive Benefits

Let’s face it aspiring models may not get the opportunity to sign exclusively with a modeling agency. These days the celebrities and supermodels like Beyonce, Gisele Bundchen, and Joan Smalls have the luxury many beginning models are striving for. It is not the end of the world for all of the other non-exclusive models.

What’s the difference?

A model who is non-exclusive has the luxury of registering with several agencies in her market. This gives the model greater visibility because they are not solely locked into one agency. Typically, the agency makes 20% commission on every job the model gets booked for. The model can also make the decision to do some free-lance modeling on the side as well.

A model who is exclusive is signed only to that agency and is locked into a contractual agreement which can last anywhere from one to three years. Typically, the agency can make anywhere from 20-40% commission on every job the model gets booked for. The commission is higher because the agency also is serving as the model’s management company which entitles them to more money. The agency usually charges the client a service charge for booking the model. The model is only responsible for the 20% commission.

Exclusive contracts are reserved for models who have a winning track record and have proven themselves in the modeling industry.

Agency Approval

The chances of a brand new model being signed exclusively is rare but it can happen quickly. If you are new to an agency and you get booked for let’s say your first five auditions, that is a great indicator that you may be a cash cow. No agency is going to want to share your talent with the other agencies. In this scenario, the agency should be running to sign you exclusively. If not, I would consider making a request to sign exclusively with them.

Personal Experience

Since making the decision to get back into modeling, I actually registered with four agencies. Despite the recession, I have been going on numerous auditions. The funny part of this is that, I can recall sitting in my daughter’s graduation ceremony and my phone ringing. It was one of my agents with a same day audition. I quickly and quietly gathered the information and hung up. Before I could put the phone back in my purse, it rang again. This was another agent calling about the same audition. I had to tell them that I had already been booked for it. Now my other two agencies didn’t call me for this at all.

Moral of the Story

If you are new to modeling or returning like myself after a hiatus, register with as many agencies as possible. What you have to keep in mind is that you don’t know what kind of talent the agency already has in the category you fit in. I have been fortunate to pick up where I left off because of the established relationships I had developed and maintained throughout the years. Beginners will not have that luxury and will have to work diligently to get to that level.

In the meantime, don’t give up and stay positive. If you are aiming for an exclusive contract set some goals, write them down, and keep your eye on the prize.