An Artist’s Guide to The Model & Talent Industry

Foreword

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Every parent considers their child to be beautiful and in the eyes of every parent a child should be seen to be so!

The Model industry has, over the past decade, fallen victim to unscrupulous people who have capitalised upon this perception and subsequently left a very bitter taste in the mouths of both parents and legitimate agencies alike.  

This applies to both adults and children and models & artists.

Since agencies were de-regulated by the Government back in the early 90’s, the floodgates have opened for simply ‘anyone’ to open an Agency. There are no police checks carried out on any person involved in such a company, which is quite horrific especially where children are involved, nor are agencies regulated by any Governing Body. Consequently, agencies then ‘popped up’ all over the UK, offering places to children & adults on their books, together with the promise to secure those artists work with their so-called ‘clients’.

At this time, the number of unscrupulous agencies far outweighed those more legitimate. Even to the point where in comparison to the mid 90’s when there were no more than 10 agencies operating, by 2005 there were over 200 ‘agencies’ available for a parent to choose from. Some were getting work for their artists, but unfortunately, most weren’t. Inevitably, when the reputable agencies closed their books, or declined an applicant, or their fees were found to be too expensive for a parent/artist’s budget, many unsuspecting applicants found themselves turning to the one of the lesser-known agencies who appeared to be offering a similar service, only at a much lower rate.

I personally blame the Internet boom for this, although I shouldn’t complain too loudly as I also have the Internet to thank for the success of Bizzy Agency! Indeed, Bizzy Agency were the very first UK agency to have a website at all, thanks to our astute friend Chris Meakes, who said many years ago, “if you don’t have a website in 5 years time, then you won’t have a business’. Despite his foresight, I don’t think that even he could have envisaged the enormity of what was to follow. I am so glad we listened to him!

In the early days, many of those unscrupulous agencies, to which I refer, would quite often advertise in local newspapers, with ‘open invitations’ to attend local hotels for those that had ‘the potential to become a star’, or ‘who wanted to become a model’. Some guaranteed work; some offered contracts with leading agencies, however, all had a hidden agenda, to obtain money from artists/parents by offering a service that they could not deliver. Many agencies were traced and closed by the, then known DTI (since named BERR, BIS and will undoubtedly change their name again before long), some disappeared into obscurity, but others simply changed their names and re-located to another area, armed with the knowledge of how they could continue business, whilst managing to stay just inside of those DTI standards.

As ridiculous as it may seem, thousands of parents & artists over the years have fallen foul to these methods of recruiting models, but what I find to be even more worrying, is that they are still doing so today. Even with the abundance of advice and warnings that are issued to the public, unsuspecting parents/artists from all walks of life continue to be preyed upon and do actually part with their hard-earned money to register with these so-called ‘agencies’.

I have encountered many people over the years that have fallen victim to such scams and have found they range from the ‘normal’ young mum, to even barristers. That will help to explain how clever these people really are.

In a bid to prevent themselves from being ‘duped’ by companies such as this, many have since turned to internet chat rooms and website forums in their quest to seek advice and, although quite often being a great source of information and advice on many matters, as people can use this service to share their personal experiences, over the years, I have come to learn that much incorrect advice is quite often given, with the reader then passing that information on again, until eventually everybody sees that information as being common knowledge and therefore the truth.

I have even discovered that in one particular chat-room, new agencies were ‘posing’ as ‘parents’ and posting messages such as ‘this agency is brilliant!’ and ‘I have had loads of work with this agency!’. This was clearly a blatant bid to promote their company, which is not really a problem, however, what I did find to be rather troubling was that it was noticed that the same author had posted many messages in other forums, stating that they had been ‘ripped off’ and ‘conned’ by some of the most established companies in the UK. This was reported to the Web Company concerned and information passed around the agencies. Although the agencies concerned were highly established and totally bona fide, it was rather worrying to most to discover the levels to which these unscrupulous companies would stoop.

This adds further weight to my previous comment, in that parents/artists should seek information through the correct methods and not via chat rooms, as they could be communicating with people that they either do not know, or who may never actually exist.

The one question that I am asked on almost a daily basis is ‘I have heard that you shouldn’t pay any agency an upfront fee, is that right?’ The answer to that would be ‘No’, that is not correct at all. If an agency were a bona fide operating company and wished to charge to promote, then whatever their fee is, you would have to pay that amount to be on their books. If they charged £1000 a week to be on their books (not that any agency would charge that amount, of course!), then so be it. This therefore leaves parents/artists extremely confused as to which companies are legitimate and which are not, which is quite understandable. The fact is that a “model agency” cannot charge a fee to be represented, however, a talent agency can.

I have written this information guide, in my capacity as Company Director running what is now the most successful agency in the UK, with the sole purpose of wanting to share my knowledge and experiences, so giving advice to parents/artists, in a bid to hopefully educate and equip them with all they need when going into this wonderful industry, which is exactly what it can be if approached correctly and with the right agency.

We have appeared as ‘an industry expert’ on BBC News, Channel 4’s Big Brother (BBBOTS), ITV's This Morning, and Sky News. We have featured in most national newspapers, contributed to various live radio shows and Bizzy Agency even had a 4-part CH4 TV series launched in 2016 called The Tiny Tots Talent Agency. The show was repeated later in the year, then aired right across Europe, Australia, and the USA. In the same year we were finalists in the Bexley Business Awards and ended the year as winners of the 2016 Entertainments Awards. We didn’t think it would get any better than that but went on to become National Winners of the Prestige Awards 2020/21 after winning another 5 Best Child Model Agency awards.  We finished 2021 as Best Child Talent & Model Agency 2021/22 in the Southern Enterprise Awards.

There are many good agencies out there, all offering different fee structures and with some specialising in different areas of the industry. In amongst those agencies there are, of course, many ‘bad’ ones. If I were a parent seeking an agency for my daughter now, equipped with all the information I have accumulated over the years, I would truly be concerned with the minefield out there. Your child is the most precious thing you will ever be blessed with, so you should choose wisely. But that is not as easy as it sounds.

Yes, you should read reviews, but with an open mind. Yes, you should try to go on recommendation, but not everyone knows somebody in the industry. So where does that leave you?

My advice would be, if you have read all the information that you can gather and are either totally confused, or still unsure which agency to go with, then message a client and ask them which agencies they use and parents perhaps ask which one they would place their child with.

Bizzy Agency is recommended and used by most companies in the industry and our client list (shown on our website) shows that we have worked with virtually every client out there! This is the kind of thing a new applicant should be looking for, evidence of work and credibility.

I wish you the very best of luck with whichever agency you decide to join, I truly do. All I hope for is that you please ensure that the decision you make is the right one for you, (and your child)!

Sadie, Director SB Management

Bizzy Agency – Channel 4 TV Series The Tiny Tots Talent Agency 2016

Our TV series aired in the UK, across Europe & then worldwide!

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