Secrets of an Agent Man: The Urge to Purge

Sometimes I feel like PN Agency is the equivalent of Hotel California – you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave. Percentage-wise, we actually do not have that many talents who have left the roster. There are a few who went union or moved out the city/country. There were a few who got too busy with other aspects of their lives/careers. And yes, in a few instances, we’ve had to let people go because they missed sessions or were generally unprofessional. But, on the whole, once people get on the roster, they generally seem to stay there.

Of course, on any roster, you have a spectrum of voices – in terms of ability and how much work they get. Talent is obviously a big factor in your earning potential but other factors come into play as well. Is a person generally available? We have some creative voices who have very busy schedules outside the voice over world. We still keep them on board because they are good at what they do but they just don’t get that much work because we can only submit them for things that fit that tight schedule. Now, if you’re only available every 3rd Wednesday, you’re probably not going to stay on the roster unless you have some incredible vocal skill that no one else has.

On that note, there are niche voices who have their place on our roster but they have to get used to the idea of the work being quality over quantity. The woman who sounds like a 12 year-old girl is valuable, as is the older “European sounding” gentleman but neither can expect a plethora of casting calls in any given year.

But what about the voices who simply do not get much work? It’s not a question of talent per se because we would not have brought them on board in the first place if we didn’t think they had talent. But sometimes it just doesn’t work – and not because of anything you can put your finger on like a disagreeable personality or an opiate addiction. As an agent, I’ve had a number of experiences with talents where I’ve asked myself – why can’t I get her more work? It doesn’t cost the agency any money to keep a talent on the roster but there’s obviously not much point in someone taking up a roster space if he/she is not booking gigs. And that’s the toughest moment as an agent. How long do you stick with a talent?

There are no easy answers to this. I know some agents who do an annual purge: parting ways with 8-10 talents who just aren’t getting gigs. Others just wait for talents to leave or seemingly don’t mind having a large roster with a mix of people who book all the time and those who only book every lunar eclipse. I have never done a purge – but I’ve sure thought about it (rubs his hands with a devilish smile).

I’m curious to open this up to other agents? Do you do periodic purges of the roster? If so, all at once, or a couple of talents here or there? Is there a set time frame you give talents in terms of evaluating how they are doing on the roster?

And I’m also curious about the talent’s perspective: how long do you give an agent before you move on? What reasons would make you decide to move on besides just not getting enough auditions/work?

Feel free to answer in the comments section but I’m also going to throw this out on social media and see what people have to say.

UPDATE: Voice Over Xtra turned this blog post into a piece on their site. There have been a number of interesting comments at the bottom of the post. Have a look:

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