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Model
Lin Mei
Posts: 135
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore


I don't know if there are any other freelance models that have run into a similar situation like this with an agency but I'd really appreciate any advice. I apologize this will be long but I want to make sure I include the details as they are relevant.

I'm a freelance model working out of Asia. I work with a few different agencies/bookers here but have never signed any contract with any of them, not even a non-exclusive contract . I work with these agencies on a case by case basis. As a freelance model, I often meet clients through my agencies, clients sometimes call me directly and book straight through me if they're not casting through my agency. My bookers at my agencies know this and there has never been a problem.

UNTIL, *cue dramatic music* I casted for a client through my agency. The client booked 3 models from the agency.  2 are freelance, including myself, and the other has a contract. This client said there could be up to 12 events but they only booked us for 3 events from the agency. After i worked these 3 events through my agency, the client began booking me and the other freelance model directly and booked a 3rd different model from a completely different agency. NOTE: At this point the client has chosen not to work with my agency at all so I either work as an independent contractor or not work at all. My booker at the agency found out and  had a meeting with the other freelance model. She was given two options, to be dropped, or give them what would have been their commission for the jobs she  booked without the agency and this is important, NOT tell the client about it. So it seems my agency won't even contact the client about it and wants the models to do this for them under the table.

Their argument is that they gave us this opportunity, however the opportunity they gave us was for three jobs, which we worked through them. The client didn't even continue booking the third model from my agency which makes it seem like they really just didn't want to work with them. And they really liked the other model too!

I haven't breached ANY contract and I'm working here legally. Them wanting to take commission under the table seems to be the most illegal thing to me. I don't mind them dropping me. I'd rather them drop me than pay them commission on jobs they didn't book me for. However, they do still owe me a lot of money which I'm nervous about.

I told  the agency they can't do anything about the jobs I already direct booked because they weren't under agency contract but they can however, contact the client and have them book me for the remaining events through the agency instead. I wouldn't mind that all but it seems that they're trying to avoid any contact with the client.

Agencies out here are notorious for being shady. I protect myself by not signing contracts and working case by case and many other models have become freelance after bad experiences here with agencies.

Any input? Has anyone experienced this before? What did you do? I feel like my offer to the agency is a fair one but who knows what they will try as they still owe me money. I understand some people will say I'm in the wrong and should've given the jobs to the agency but the way I see it is I would've either worked those jobs as an independent contractor or not worked them at all.
Jan 10 13 01:58 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
J O H N A L L A N
Posts: 9,985
Santa Ana, California, US


Lin Mei wrote:
After i worked these 3 events through my agency, the client began booking me and the other freelance model directly and booked a 3rd different model from a completely different agency. My booker at the agency found out and is furious.

So, what did you expect. This is really unprofessional behavior on your part. For any contract type work (not just modeling), you don't accept a client through an agency and then cut the agency out of the loop for that same client after you're 'IN'.

Bad behavior model.

Jan 10 13 02:22 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
S de Varax
Posts: 7,270
Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates


how can they drop you if they don't have a contract with you?
Jan 10 13 02:27 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
Lin Mei
Posts: 135
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore


John Allan wrote:
So, what did you expect. This is really unprofessional behavior on your part. For any contract type work (not just modeling), you don't accept a client through an agency and then cut the agency out of the loop for that same client after you're 'IN'.

Bad behavior model.

Please remember I said the client completely stopped working with the agency altogether. Meaning, I would have either worked as an independent contractor, or not worked at all. And also when clients don't work with my agency for certain jobs, they'll book me directly and this seems to be the case happening here. My agents also know this. Should I have insisted that the client book through the agency even though I'm not contracted with them?

Jan 10 13 02:28 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
Lin Mei
Posts: 135
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore


S de Varax wrote:
how can they drop you if they don't have a contract with you?

Exactly! I think they meant just not work together anymore. Which is fine by me. So really what they're saying is give them commission when clients book me directly and not through the agency.

Jan 10 13 02:29 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jean Renard Photography
Posts: 2,046
Los Angeles, California, US


The whole thing is bad business.

First you should get paid for the work you did for the agency.
Second you should pay them their commission for these jobs they introduced you to.
This is the way the business should work.

Paying under the table is not acceptable as it gets you into tax liabilities.

Finally your market is very small, when I was there, it seemed everyone knew everyone else.  Keeping good relations with folks that can get you work for the long term makes sense and keeping your reputation as a pro is also important.  You need to protect your agency and they need to protect you.  When the client asked you to do this away from your agency you should have said no.

Why did they stop working with your agency?
Jan 10 13 02:33 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mark Salo
Posts: 8,225
Olney, Maryland, US


The client is scamming the agency.
Jan 10 13 02:35 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
J O H N A L L A N
Posts: 9,985
Santa Ana, California, US


Lin Mei wrote:
Please remember I said the client completely stopped working with the agency altogether. Meaning, I would have either worked as an independent contractor, or not worked at all. And also when clients don't work with my agency for certain jobs, they'll book me directly and this seems to be the case happening here. My agents also know this. Should I have insisted that the client book through the agency even though I'm not contracted with them?

Ethically, you should have told the client that they need to book you through your agency. If they then tell you that they have ceased doing business with your agency but still want you, you need to let your agency know that this is their stance and work something out between you and the agency (pre booking).

Since you don't have a contract with the agency, technically you can do anything you want. But it's a gray area not without risks to you going forward.

Some of it is on the agency for not binding you to a non-compete agreement.

EDIT: Clients try this sort of thing in the real world all the time to lower their cost of talent. And again, it's not limited to modeling. You as a professional should not participate.

Jan 10 13 02:39 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
J O H N A L L A N
Posts: 9,985
Santa Ana, California, US


.
Jan 10 13 02:39 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
Lin Mei
Posts: 135
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore


Mark Salo wrote:
The client is scamming the agency.

I feel this is mostly between the client and the agency and that's why I've asked my agency to contact the client.

Jan 10 13 02:39 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Escalante
Posts: 5,367
Chicago, Illinois, US


Sorry but this is the reason you have a mother agent.
Jan 10 13 02:41 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
Lin Mei
Posts: 135
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore


Jean Renard Photography wrote:
The whole thing is bad business.

First you should get paid for the work you did for the agency.
Second you should pay them their commission for these jobs they introduced you to.
This is the way the business should work.

Paying under the table is not acceptable as it gets you into tax liabilities.

Finally your market is very small, when I was there, it seemed everyone knew everyone else.  Keeping good relations with folks that can get you work for the long term makes sense and keeping your reputation as a pro is also important.  You need to protect your agency and they need to protect you.  When the client asked you to do this away from your agency you should have said no.

Why did they stop working with your agency?

Thank you for your input. I am not being paid under the table for these jobs. I'm a citizen here, have the right to work and am paying taxes on these jobs. The only thing that would be done under the table would be paying agency commission on the jobs that the client didn't book from them.

The problem is I don't feel at all protected by this agency so I don't feel the need to do my utmost to protect them. I most certainly am fair though. I have no idea why the client chose to stop working with the agency, that's why I feel the agency should discuss this with the client.

Jan 10 13 02:41 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
Lin Mei
Posts: 135
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore


John Allan wrote:

Ethically, you should have told the client that they need to book you through your agency. If they then tell you that they have ceased doing business with your agency but still want you, you need to let your agency know that this is their stance and work something out between you and the agency (pre booking).

Since you don't have a contract with the agency, technically you can do anything you want. But it's a gray area not without risks to you going forward.

Some of it is on the agency for not binding you to a non-compete agreement.

EDIT: Clients try this sort of thing in the real world all the time to lower their cost of talent. And again, it's not limited to modeling. You as a professional should not participate.

That was very helpful, thank you. I'll definitely use this should I ever run into this problem again. This job is especially gray because it's not like they decided to UN-book me through my agency then book me directly. They just direct booked me for future jobs and as a freelance model, it doesn't make sense to say no when they already know that you're not contracted. Also, I never personally offered to do the rest of the jobs freelance, I would've been fine if they continued to my agency but they opted to take the other route.

Jan 10 13 02:48 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Model
Damianne
Posts: 15,973
Austin, Texas, US


Sounds like the client is pulling a fast one on the agency, but they shouldn't be sniping at you about it.

Tell them you don't know anything about other jobs, don't remember what they mean, you work a lot of jobs, and really none of it is their business.

Be vague and leave the ball in their court. Their problem is with the client, not with you, and they should know that.


I have no idea what I'm talking about, bee tee dubs, and have never had this experience before. I'm making shit up based on what I think sounds right.
/disclaimer
Jan 10 13 04:44 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Don-Jones
Posts: 301
Memphis, Tennessee, US


Their fault for not having you sign a non-compete agreement.  I can understand agencies working with freelancers and not having any formal contract, but to do so with out a soliciting or non-compete agreement.... their business skills are novice.

Regardless, they can still screw you up.  Never bite a hand that feeds.... and loyalty goes a long ways in this business.
Jan 10 13 09:12 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Garry k
Posts: 27,012
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


it comes down to $

the client wants to save money , the agency wants to make it

and you are caught in the middle

you need to decide in the long run which is more advantageous to you

stay working  with the agency or keep working with the client
Jan 10 13 09:19 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
MB JenB
Posts: 2,999
Clarksville, Tennessee, US


Lin Mei wrote:
I feel this is mostly between the client and the agency and that's why I've asked my agency to contact the client.

Seems the more appropriate thing to do would have been to ask the client to contact the agency seeing is that is who was invlolved in introducing you. Like the other poster said, once the client said they weren't going to work with they agency you needed to tell the agency, before you took the second job with them.  The agency got you the first job with them, you should have told the agency that the client was trying to book you directly without them. At least this way you could have gotten their blessing rather than stealing their client, (which is what you did.)

I wouldn't get you anymore work if I was that booker because it would be hard to trust you, your actions weren't good business.

Jen

Jan 10 13 09:19 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
terrysphotocountry
Posts: 4,081
Rochester, New York, US


Lin Mei wrote:

Please remember I said the client completely stopped working with the agency altogether. Meaning, I would have either worked as an independent contractor, or not worked at all. And also when clients don't work with my agency for certain jobs, they'll book me directly and this seems to be the case happening here. My agents also know this. Should I have insisted that the client book through the agency even though I'm not contracted with them?

The client might be getting models cheaper by passing the agency? Put your self in the agency's shoe's. what would you do with models that use your customers and cut you out from making money? The customer was a house account?

Jan 10 13 09:27 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
CKS Studio Inc
Posts: 4
New York, New York, US


Basically is loyalty, I think you sounded smart, but what you're doing is not so smart as a model, you need the agency to introduce you more better and high end clients, trust me clients all want to book models without agency so they don't need to pay more, but you are trapped with one type of clients, agency is a protection and door to all others, screw them you screw yourself girl~

Good post! I'd say pay them what they deserved they introduce you, the more you give back the more they will promote you! I see models like you everyday, and they don't go anywhere with this attitude, you can make money, but you will never make it as a top model without an agent & a good agency!

Best of luck!
Jan 10 13 09:29 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
Lin Mei
Posts: 135
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore


Damianne wrote:
Sounds like the client is pulling a fast one on the agency, but they shouldn't be sniping at you about it.

Tell them you don't know anything about other jobs, don't remember what they mean, you work a lot of jobs, and really none of it is their business.

Be vague and leave the ball in their court. Their problem is with the client, not with you, and they should know that.


I have no idea what I'm talking about, bee tee dubs, and have never had this experience before. I'm making shit up based on what I think sounds right.
/disclaimer

That's pretty much where I've been with this. I've told them over and over to contact to the client to resolve this. I was just staying out of it between them but ended up putting myself directly in the middle, my fault in retrospect but either way, it's not my job now to negotiate between client and agency.

Jan 10 13 09:37 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
Lin Mei
Posts: 135
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore


Don-Jones wrote:
Their fault for not having you sign a non-compete agreement.  I can understand agencies working with freelancers and not having any formal contract, but to do so with out a soliciting or non-compete agreement.... their business skills are novice.

Regardless, they can still screw you up.  Never bite a hand that feeds.... and loyalty goes a long ways in this business.

Problem with this agency now is they switched out all their bookers and quite honestly, yes, they're really inexperienced. I see how they screwed themselves and I COULD have helped them more. But I wasn't going to OFFER to sign a non-exclusive contract and I've already tried to help them quite a lot.

I agree with what you're saying about loyalty and i am very loyal to agents that are loyal to me. This is not the case with this agency though. I just do my jobs from them and keep a distance.

Jan 10 13 09:39 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
Lin Mei
Posts: 135
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore


terrysphotocountry wrote:
The client might be getting models cheaper by passing the agency? Put your self in the agency's shoe's. what would you do with models that use your customers and cut you out from making money? The customer was a house account?

The thing is, they booked a model from a completely different agency, so the issue wasn't just pricing it was cooperation with this specific agency.

If a model used my customer and cut my out of making money i would make them sign a non-exclusive contract however, this case isn't that black and white. I didn't try to undermine, the client directly bypassed agency. This was at the client's discretion not the model's.  So as a booker, I would resolve this with the client.

Jan 10 13 09:44 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
Lin Mei
Posts: 135
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore


CKS Studio Inc wrote:
Basically is loyalty, I think you sounded smart, but what you're doing is not so smart as a model, you need the agency to introduce you more better and high end clients, trust me clients all want to book models without agency so they don't need to pay more, but you are trapped with one type of clients, agency is a protection and door to all others, screw them you screw yourself girl~

Good post! I'd say pay them what they deserved they introduce you, the more you give back the more they will promote you! I see models like you everyday, and they don't go anywhere with this attitude, you can make money, but you will never make it as a top model without an agent & a good agency!

Best of luck!

Thank you, good answer. I agree that agency is protection so I don't go around telling clients I'm freelance and to book me directly. But this agency doesn't try to promote me when they've flown in new foreign models because they want them to break even first even if I can still make them money. So I must disagree with that. But everything else you said was very helpful. Thanks!

Jan 10 13 09:46 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
Lin Mei
Posts: 135
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore


Jan 10 13 09:57 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
Lin Mei
Posts: 135
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore


No one has addressed how the agency asked the other freelance model to pay commission on the jobs WITHOUT informing the client. Meaning they don't actually want to contact the client about the issue which I personally, feels mostly stems from them. If you think it's from me that's fine but when it comes down to actually coming to an agreement on commission from the jobs we've done and future jobs, shouldn't the agency work this out with the client and not under the table with the models?

They actually said, "Pay us the commission from the jobs and don't tell the client about it"
Jan 10 13 10:10 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
DraganSutic
Posts: 304
Las Vegas, Nevada, US


Lin Mei wrote:
No one has addressed how the agency asked the other freelance model to pay commission on the jobs WITHOUT informing the client. Meaning they don't actually want to contact the client about the issue which I personally, feels mostly stems from them. If you think it's from me that's fine but when it comes down to actually coming to an agreement on commission from the jobs we've done and future jobs, shouldn't the agency work this out with the client and not under the table with the models?

They actually said, "Pay us the commission from the jobs and don't tell the client about it"

They are being silly saying that, but that doesn't excuse what you are doing. You should never discuss what happens between you and your agency with the end client, and secondly, you need to stop trying to rationalize what you're doing. You are poaching a client and cutting the agency out, if that's how you want to be known, that's your business, but don't try and rationalize it. If you want to keep a reputation for being ethical, pay them their cut.

Jan 11 13 02:59 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
JMERYLLMAN
Posts: 26
San Antonio, Texas, US


I agree, you seem to be rationalizing your actions.   A simple, "please talk to my agency if you are wanting to work with me" could have easily solved all this problem.
Jan 11 13 09:13 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MC Photo
Posts: 4,144
New York, New York, US


Lin Mei wrote:
I don't know if there are any other freelance models that have run into a similar situation like this with an agency but I'd really appreciate any advice. I apologize this will be long but I want to make sure I include the details as they are relevant.

I'm a freelance model working out of Asia. I work with a few different agencies/bookers here but have never signed any contract with any of them, not even a non-exclusive contract . I work with these agencies on a case by case basis. As a freelance model, I often meet clients through my agencies, clients sometimes call me directly and book straight through me if they're not casting through my agency. My bookers at my agencies know this and there has never been a problem.

UNTIL, *cue dramatic music* I casted for a client through my agency. The client booked 3 models from the agency.  2 are freelance, including myself, and the other has a contract. This client said there could be up to 12 events but they only booked us for 3 events from the agency. After i worked these 3 events through my agency, the client began booking me and the other freelance model directly and booked a 3rd different model from a completely different agency. NOTE: At this point the client has chosen not to work with my agency at all so I either work as an independent contractor or not work at all. My booker at the agency found out and  had a meeting with the other freelance model. She was given two options, to be dropped, or give them what would have been their commission for the jobs she  booked without the agency and this is important, NOT tell the client about it. So it seems my agency won't even contact the client about it and wants the models to do this for them under the table.

Their argument is that they gave us this opportunity, however the opportunity they gave us was for three jobs, which we worked through them. The client didn't even continue booking the third model from my agency which makes it seem like they really just didn't want to work with them. And they really liked the other model too!

I haven't breached ANY contract and I'm working here legally. Them wanting to take commission under the table seems to be the most illegal thing to me. I don't mind them dropping me. I'd rather them drop me than pay them commission on jobs they didn't book me for. However, they do still owe me a lot of money which I'm nervous about.

I told  the agency they can't do anything about the jobs I already direct booked because they weren't under agency contract but they can however, contact the client and have them book me for the remaining events through the agency instead. I wouldn't mind that all but it seems that they're trying to avoid any contact with the client.

Agencies out here are notorious for being shady. I protect myself by not signing contracts and working case by case and many other models have become freelance after bad experiences here with agencies.

Any input? Has anyone experienced this before? What did you do? I feel like my offer to the agency is a fair one but who knows what they will try as they still owe me money. I understand some people will say I'm in the wrong and should've given the jobs to the agency but the way I see it is I would've either worked those jobs as an independent contractor or not worked them at all.

It's not about what's legal it's about relationships.

If you want to  keep getting jobs give them their cut. You're not paying them for booking the job, you're paying them for information on who's hiring.

The first time this happens to you, you may not be able to see it coming, but you should have told the client that if they book you directly it will cause problems for you with the agency. As long as it costs them the same, they don't care.

Jan 11 13 06:31 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MC Photo
Posts: 4,144
New York, New York, US


Lin Mei wrote:

Please remember I said the client completely stopped working with the agency altogether. Meaning, I would have either worked as an independent contractor, or not worked at all. And also when clients don't work with my agency for certain jobs, they'll book me directly and this seems to be the case happening here. My agents also know this. Should I have insisted that the client book through the agency even though I'm not contracted with them?

Yes. Or CC'd both on an email asking what the best way to handle the situation is.

In a lot of cases, being upfront about it will get the response that it's ok to do business directly.

Jan 11 13 06:32 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
faltered
Posts: 285
Los Angeles, California, US


You must have some sort of client relationship with the agency (models are considered clients of their modeling agency), or I don't see why they would book you on this job in the first place? Do you appear on their roster (whether it be their main board or their direct booking board) in any way?

Regardless, if they brought you the job it does not matter if the client direct booked you or not, you should pay the agency a commission on every job you work for that client.

The agency has, or had, a agency/retail client relationship with the booking client and even if that has ended you should still pay the agency a commission unless the client starts booking through a new agency that in turn hires you and then it would be okay to not pay the original agency because you have been cast through other representation. But in this case you would be paid by the agency and the commission already deducted.

This is no different than leaving an agency and years down the road receiving royalties, you still owe commissions to the agency responsible for booking you the job. It does not matter that the job is a additional booking that happens when the retail client no longer is booking through the agency, the agency still was your lead to getting the work, and that's all an agency is, a vehicle that introduces you to clients.

Legally you might not have to pay the agency if you didn't even have a signed direct booking agreement but it would not be the right thing to do to not payout the commission and like someone else mentioned earlier, it's a small world and you never know where those bookers are going to end up in the future and they can poison your name.

If the end client really isn't going to you direct just to save a few bucks then you should tell them you would like to charge a 20% agency fee, like the agency would, so you can pay them. This way you don't lose a dime because you would be collection the agency fee and paying it out and you wouldn't even lose the 20% that would normally come out of your pay from the agency (since they would normally make 40% total (20% from the agency fee and 20% from the model).
Jan 11 13 09:52 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
MB JenB
Posts: 2,999
Clarksville, Tennessee, US


Lin Mei wrote:
No one has addressed how the agency asked the other freelance llama to pay commission on the jobs WITHOUT informing the client.;;;
They actually said, "Pay us the commission from the jobs and don't tell the client

Oh! I'm sorry I didn't address  too as this as it is HUGE.

This almost sounds criminal. They are asking for money for something they didn't do and do not deserve. There is a term for it...like paying for protection.
edit: although the above post that discusses royalties and contract clearly sounds logical...I just don't like the part about them telling you to keep it secret from thel client.

Jan 11 13 10:05 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
faltered
Posts: 285
Los Angeles, California, US


MyrnaByrna wrote:

Oh! I'm sorry I didn't address  too as this as it is HUGE.

This almost sounds criminal. They are asking for money for something they didn't do and do not deserve. There is a term for it...like paying for protection.
edit: although the above post that discusses royalties and contract clearly sounds logical...I just don't like the part about them telling you to keep it secret from thel client.

I disagree. First of all, this is 3rd hand information, the OP wasn't involved in the conversation she's quoting from, it was the "other" model.  The quote also involves more than the commmission, it involves the choice they are giving the model of staying with the agency (even though the OP is saying they don't even have a non exclusive contract ). The agency simply and understandable may not want the client to have to be involved in a agency/model-client dispute. The OP said quote "My booker at the agency found out and  had a meeting with the other freelance model. She was given two options, to be dropped, or give them what would have been their commission for the jobs she  booked without the agency and this is important, NOT tell the client about it."   
If I was the agency I wouldn't want the client to know what is going on behind the scenes either.
The OP refers to the agency as "my agency" several times in the post so there clearly was at least a verbal contractual agreement and I would hardly classify this as a "criminal" agency trying to get commissions "under the table". These are commmissions they are due since they made the introduction.
What if you have a mother agent that introduces you to an agency and then down the road the agency and the mother agent have a falling out and no longer do business together, would you want your agency to stop paying your mother agent the commissions the mother agent should receive?

Jan 11 13 10:25 pm  Link  Quote 
Model
K_G
Posts: 2,930
Detroit, Michigan, US


MyrnaByrna wrote:

Seems the more appropriate thing to do would have been to ask the client to contact the agency seeing is that is who was invlolved in introducing you. Like the other poster said, once the client said they weren't going to work with they agency you needed to tell the agency, before you took the second job with them.  The agency got you the first job with them, you should have told the agency that the client was trying to book you directly without them. At least this way you could have gotten their blessing rather than stealing their client, (which is what you did.)

I wouldn't get you anymore work if I was that booker because it would be hard to trust you, your actions weren't good business.

Jen

This.

Jan 13 13 06:14 pm  Link  Quote 
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