Do You Need A Talent Agent?


(By Randy Lane) Do you need a talent agent to negotiate your contract and guide your career? That question and other relevant questions were answered on the Negotiation ‘Post Pandemic’ panel at Morning Show Boot Camp this week in Dallas.

DeDe McGuire, host of the highly successful DeDe in the Morning Show moderated with panelist talent agent Heather Cohen EVP The Weiss Agency, talent agent Paul Anderson CEO Workhouse Media, Cris Eagan VP Audience Cox Media GroupThea Mitchem EVP Programming iHeart MediaJeff Sottolano EVP Programming Audacy, Inc., and myself.

The key questions DeDe asked the panelist include:

Q: “Is female talent compensation on par with males or still lagging?”

Thea Mitchem said that it’s still lagging, but it’s growing closer. Paul Anderson stressed he’s on a mission to not only get female talent on par with males but to give female talent their fair market value even if it surpasses males.

Q: “What’s the status of guaranteed contracts? What’s the typical length?”

According to Chris Eagan, no-cut contracts are still common for high-performing talent. The contract length depends on the talent’s value in terms of ratings and revenue for the company.

Talent leverage was noted as the key to acquiring lucrative contracts. I defined leverage as:

  1. Outperforming the radio station ratings average
  2. Revenue from your client endorsements
  3. Revenue and downloads of your podcast and social media footprint

Q: “If a talent doesn’t have the money to hire an agent or lawyer and negotiates their own contract, are there sources for sharpening their negotiating skills?” 

Before signing an agreement, Paul Anderson suggested talent go to their personal and professional mentors for advice. It was also recommended to educate yourself on negotiation by reading books and articles on the topic.

Q: The FTC has proposed a ban on non-compete clauses in contracts, and they have been reduced or banned in several states; what about in states where they are still legal?”

Short of a guaranteed contract, the panel advised talent to negotiate a fair severance package. For example, if you only have a two-week severance, you essentially have a two-week contract. When there is not a non-compete clause in the contract, a 60-90 day severance period is considered reasonable. At least have your severance match the non-compete period.

Q: “At what salary range does it make economic sense to hire an agent?”

The standard percentage agents receive for negotiating contracts is 10% of a talent’s salary. Jeff Sottolano recommended the salary point is when talent can afford to give up 10% of their salary.

Heather Cohen and I stressed the importance of relationships whether you have representation or not. I cautioned talent to always act as a team player. Have a positive relationship with your teammates, the program director, general manager, corporate, sales manager, promotion director, and engineering.

Randy Lane is the owner of the Randy Lane Company, which coaches and brands radio and television personalities, business professionals, sports personalities, entrepreneurs, and pop culture artists, helping them master communication skills to have an impact on their audiences. Read Randy’s Radio Ink archives here.


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