For teenagers wanting fame and fortune (and let’s face it, whose teenager doesn’t fit into this category?), there is an all too popular scam that, while not new by any means, can devastate a wannabe star, both financially and emotionally. It goes something like this: con artists posing as legitimate talent agencies advertise on television, radio, or in the paper looking for the “next big star.” Sure enough, when eager applicants call the provided number, they’re assured that they’ll be trained and “guaranteed” a prestigious career in the entertainment agency, usually in exchange for a large, upfront payment. Of course, these promises rarely materialize, and any training that clients receive is nominal. Here are a few good ways to determine if your talent agency is the real deal or simply part of a scam, out to rob you of your hard-earned money.
As most of us know, there are never any guarantees in the entertainment industry. If a talent agent guarantees that you’ll be the next big star or that you can have your pick of roles when you’ve completed the requisite training, be wary.
Studies have shown that high-pressure sales tactics that urge you to sign right away are successful because they eliminate the time you need to consider something objectively and with a critical eye. It’s never wise to make a large financial decision quickly, and chances are if someone’s pushing you to do just that, it’s because they know that you’ll walk away if you decide to take some time to think about it. Do yourself a favor and at least consider your options before you give into someone’s high-pressure sales pitch.
Demand for Upfront Payment
Most legitimate talent agencies, particularly in Hollywood, work on commission, not for an upfront amount of cash. If your agency of choice is demanding a large payment before they even start working for you, chances are, it’s a scam. Some legitimate agencies do require fees for photos, promotional materials, or other “start-up” costs, but they’ll be more than willing to show you a list of these charges and explain each one.
Want a surefire way to avoid these scams once and for all? If you or your child is thinking about getting into show business in any capacity and are in search of a talent agent, be sure to ask anyone you interview if he or she has a current talent industry bond. The talent agency bond is a guarantee that the talent agency purchases from a bond company to demonstrate its willingness to abide by laws and regulations governing the industry. As one can imagine, talent agency bonds are very common types of California surety bonds, but most (if not all) talent agencies in the US are required to have one by state law. The best part is that finding a talent agency with a current surety bond costs you nothing but a little time and can pay off with plenty of peace of mind later.