So I have this vision for an agency that would solve a MAJOR problem for freelance web talent (copywriters, designers, developers, marketers, etc).
The inspiration for this agency comes from a few different places:
1. Hired Gun (on Netflix)
This movie is all about the studio musicians that often are the workhorses behind the popular musicians that we celebrate.
This movie tells the story of some of the greatest musicians alive who just happen to be better at literally playing second fiddle to the more popular names, and therefore we don’t know who they are.
In some instances, the “hired guns” were directly responsible for the success of a certain song, because they suggested specific changes to it or provided an iconic instrumentation for it, and yet we still don’t know who they are.
Some of them, in fact, are struggling to make a living, even though they should be listed right alongside the major artists that are making millions off of their hard work.
I immediately felt a kinship with those musicians, because I (and hundreds of others like me) have generated billions of dollars in revenue for others, and yet some of us struggle to make rent payments each month.
There is obviously a lot that I could unpack there, but suffice it to say, I started thinking of myself and others in my similar position as “hired guns” in the same way that these musicians are.
2. Episode 293 of the #AskGaryVee Show (with Michael Ovitz)
On this episode, Gary and Michael talk about how CAA (Michael’s talent agency) took Hollywood by storm by completely changing the way that studios interact with agencies.
Instead of simply representing individuals (actors, directors, etc), Michael started bringing complete projects to the studios. He’d round up a cast, the writer, the director, and the other pieces of the puzzle and presented that to the studio with a budget, and then they’d make the movie.
I might be misquoting that slightly, but that’s what I remember, and that’s what struck me. Because of Michael and CAA, the major studios no longer had to do the legwork of putting the movie together, they just had to pay for it.
And that was better for everyone involved. Michael’s team was representing the talent, so they were more interested in preserving the artistic nature of the projects, where a studio executive might be quick to shut down an idea or theme because of budget, legal, or other restraints.
So the talent wins, because they’re represented by someone who has their best interest at heart, the studio wins, because they don’t have to waste time putting the projects together (which they’re not that good at anyway), and CAA wins, because they get to work directly with everyone, creating relationships and opportunities for virtually unlimited future projects.
There is so much gold in this episode, I could go on for pages and pages, but for now I’ll just say that this episode sparked the notion that there could be one central agency that negotiates complete packages for business owners, so one contract could include the campaign builder, the copywriter, the designer, and anyone else that’s necessary, and they’d all come together for that particular project.
3. Season 1 Episode 3 of The Romanoffs (Amazon Prime)
First of all, this is a great show. I highly recommend it.
In this particular episode, there is an actress who is hired to play a part in a TV show, and she’s flown in for the on-location shoot. It’s immediately apparent that she is very particular, and being a popular actress, she is used to getting her way and having things just so.
She butts heads with the director, and eventually it gets to the point where she doesn’t want to be part of the show anymore, and calls her agent.
The thing I found particularly interesting is that her agent accepts the task of getting her out of that predicament, something that I didn’t realize agents do. Now, I’m not sure that is actually true, and the episode actually leaves it a bit ambiguous as to whether he really would get her out of that situation should it arise, but it got me thinking.
Sometimes the relationship between expert and business owner can get off track or flat out untenable. The problem is, the experts (or the talent) don’t have the time or the desire to deal with those kinds of situations. I know I’ve been in that situation enough times to know how much of an energy suck it can be, but if there was someone else who was truly incentivized to have my best interest in mind and get me out of bad situations (or at least help with explaining what was happening), I’d be more free to do what I’m actually good at, instead of always having to switch back and forth.
So - My Vision
My vision is to create an agency that sits between the implementers and the business owners and facilitates the entire process, enabling the business owner and the talent to spend their time where they should: on the actual project.
The cool thing is that also creates opportunities to educate and empower the talent with training courses and programs, as well as standardize the rates and ratings of everyone providing the services. It’s the wild west right now, and it’s about time to establish some law and order in the industry.