How to handle your management relationship in an area with few formal rules and standards.
Influencers have been disrupting the online advertising world for several years now, challenging traditional advertising methods and creatively leveraging their popularity for brand promotions. Since 2019 the influencer social media advertising space has skyrocketed, benefitting many influencers, but also allowing some to be taken advantage of by their managers and agents.
With the tightening of privacy policies and calls for enhanced privacy rights in tracking online activity, companies need influencers to expand their brand reach and create brand buzz. Unfortunately, some creators and influencers are being manipulated by management that offer extravagant signing bonuses and promises, that often do not last long or trap the creators and influencers in contracts that are more beneficial for the manager.
It is vital for creators and influencers to find reputable and reliable management, not one that has little or no track record or is just starting up. Here are some important practical points to be aware of in contract negotiations between creatives, influencers and their managers:
- Creators and Influencers Should Have Access and Transparency to All Deal Flows
Many managers and agencies will stall a deal until the other influencers and creators they represent are also included in it, or unless the offer is substantially increased. If you don’t have visibility into the manager’s deal-related communications, you will never know this is happening. While a bigger deal may benefit you, not having a deal benefits no one. You should always have a say in what deals you take on. One solution is a talent inbox that you, or the parents of underage creators and influencers, can check regularly to review the communications that are happening about your deals.
- Creators and Influencers Should Have Financial Transparency for All Deals
You should have a mutual agreement or guidelines for the numbers being sent out by your managers and agents. The numbers should be set, not fluctuating, and you should always have visibility to the agreed upon financial terms for deals. If not, managers could wind up keeping a larger percentage of the deal than you originally agreed to, and without transparency you would never know.
- Creators and Influencers Are The Boss of the Management Relationship
Understand that you should oversee your manager and the relationship. Your manager works for you, not the other way around. Too much control by your manager impedes creativity and can impact your creative career. The manager’s responsibilities are to book you for deals, managing those deals and they can oftentimes advise you in making major decisions that will impact the direction of your creative career. But final decisions should always be what you feel the most comfortable with pursuing.
- Creators and Influencers Should Be Aware of What Manipulation Looks Like
The entertainment industry can be a breeding ground for manipulative people and toxic workplace environments. It is important to be able to recognize what that looks like. Some examples are promises made but never fully kept, particularly promises made without documentation. Also, comments such as “You would be nothing without me”, “I made you”, or “Without me this deal wouldn’t be possible, take it or you will get no more deals”, are examples of manipulative behavior. Other instances include consistently making deals on your behalf that do not represent who you want to be as an artist, misrepresenting your availability, and saying degrading things about your creativity or work product behind your back. These are just a few examples of the many types of manipulations you may experience as a creator or influencer. It is important to be aware of these and other types of red flags of manipulative behavior and to act quickly and decisively if you feel you are being unfairly abused or taken advantage of.
- Creators and Influencers Should Always Take Time to Read The Contracts
Standard management contracts often include clauses that make it difficult to terminate, give managers rights to your creative work or to your social media accounts. Exclusivity rights granted in brand deals can also create many problems down the line regarding what creative work belongs to you and what belongs to the brand. For example, some brands require exclusivity in their deal contracts requiring that you do not represent another brand with products in the same or similar product category as theirs. It is important to have your attorney review all paperwork and negotiate clauses that are not in your best interest. The same goes for any contract your manager is signing on your behalf.
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