Secrets of an Agent Man: The PN Agency Business Model

This February 1st, it will be 10 years since I took over PN Agency from the previous owner.   It has been a great ride so far and it has me thinking about the different business models that now exist for talent agencies and/or voice over websites like the pay to plays et al.

Our approach at PN Agency to this point has been to represent Toronto-based talent only and have a decent sized but manageable roster.  We know all the people we represent – we even have cocktails from time to time.  Despite technology allowing a talent to do a voice over from anywhere, the majority of our clients are still Toronto-based and prefer to work with talents in person at a Toronto studio (some sessions are even catered!).

We are one of three non-union voice agencies in Toronto and all of us have different business models.  One agency is much larger than PN Agency with both a Toronto-based roster and also a separate home studio roster from all over the country.  They don’t put the focus on getting to know their talents personally but rather on providing a large roster of voices to their clients, at predetermined rates posted on their website.  The other non-union voice agency in town (you don’t expect me to name our competitors, do you?!) focuses on managing a much smaller roster but while they have Toronto clients, they also manage some of their talents on the pay to play sites.  So, it’s a real mix of local and on-line.

Far be it for me to judge our competitors – we all seem to be doing fine – but I’m committed to the idea that a good approach for an agent is to have a solid roster of people in one city and use that to cultivate a consistent and well-paying client base in that city.  It may seem counter-intuitive in this day and age of pay to play sites and all these “middle man agents” connecting talents and clients all over the world but we have been able to attract quality voice talents who are looking for more of a personal relationship with their agent (strictly platonic of course) and to work with good clients in their own city.

Not that we don’t work with and seek out clients all over the world but our bread and butter is still the Toronto production companies, recording studios, TV networks and ad agencies.  It has worked very well for us in Toronto and we are considering expanding to other cities with the same approach.  I am always interested to hear from talents who feel this kind of voice representation is lacking in their hometown.

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4 Responses to “Secrets of an Agent Man: The PN Agency Business Model”

  1. Lesley Bailey Says:
    April 5th, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Hello Roger –
    A few birds have been chirping in me ear about you!
    I cannot tell if this email is posted live or private, so would you mind writing me back when you have time?
    All the best, Lesley

  2. Rudol Pedersen Says:
    October 2nd, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Have considerable public speaking experience…..would like to explore a voice over career now that I’m in my mature years…..Rudy647 802 7255i

  3. John Waley Says:
    November 6th, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Roger:
    Recently e-mailed you a demo, but so far nada in response. Which brings me to Luis Genaro Vasquez who referred me to you. My accent is Brit and closer to Caine than Charles. Cutting to the chase, how about representing me?

  4. Mike James Says:
    December 10th, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Your insight on how you manage your firm is very interesting and I fully understand your perspective. It would seem that this industry is all about relationship building, so I can understand how building a solid profile could be difficult without representation from someone like yourself. I am just beginning to explore the idea of entering the field of performing voiceovers and I wonder if you have advice for those of us who may not live in the GTA, but are within driving distance of it. It seems that getting professional training or eventually being represented is a little more of a challenge for folks like myself. Your insight would be appreciated… Thanks, Mike

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