Since 1937, the Association of Talent Agents (ATA) has been the official trade association of talent agencies across the U.S., responsible for legislation, advocacy and negotiating agency franchise agreements with the major entertainment guilds, including SAG, AFTRA (SAG-AFTRA), WGA, DGA, and AEA. ATA’s collective voice provides strong and effective advocacy for its members in all matters relating to the talent- agency business. The association’s one-hundred-plus agency members represent over 90% of working artists. ATA provides its member agencies with best practices, a voice in legislation, educational seminars, networking events, conferences, news bulletins, expert opinions and day-to-day support.
What makes ATA agents unique?
Creating opportunities for their clients is at the heart of what ATA agents do. Licensed and regulated by state and local government agencies, ATA agents are at the focal point of change in the industry and at the forefront of the development of new relationships for their clients. In an era of media consolidation and vertical integration in the industry, ATA agents are the artists’ strongest allies.
Are ATA agents regulated?
Yes. In contrast to many other industry professionals, ATA agents are licensed and strictly regulated by state and local government agencies in California, New York and the other parts of the country where agents do business. In California, for example, ATA agents are not only licensed by the State Labor Commissioner and subject to annual review, but the artists’ contracts are approved by the State Labor Commissioner. ATA agencies also work with unions/guilds in the representation of their members.
How does ATA work with the guilds? Do ATA agents have agreements with all the guilds at this time?
Since 1937, ATA agencies have worked in partnership with artists and their guilds to make sure that creative artists are protected in their business relationships and negotiated agreements. ATA agencies have existing agreements covering the terms of representation with many of the guilds. The SAG Agency Regulations expired in 2002, but ATA agencies continue to represent union actors under ATA state-approved agency contracts. In addition, ATA and the guilds co-host ongoing professional development forums and seminars.
How have ATA agents responded to the changing business dynamics of the entertainment industry?
Mergers and acquisitions have consolidated power in the entertainment industry and strengthened the hand of the buyer, thus potentially weakening the position of the artist. ATA agencies know how to operate in this new business environment because they are in the marketplace every day. ATA agents understand the clients’ needs and move quickly to gain expertise and provide more needed services and opportunities. Changing business models require changing service models to meet demands. That’s why agents continue to be the artist’s strongest partner.
How are ATA agents different from managers?
The job of the agent is to create opportunities, procure and negotiate employment and counsel clients in the development of their careers. Agents in twenty-two states must be licensed as such. Only licensed talent agents (where applicable) are legally able to procure employment for artists. Unlicensed representatives are not regulated nor are they legally permitted in many states to procure employment for artists or negotiate employment.
What types of services does ATA provide?
ATA provides its members with a broad range of services, including negotiation of franchise agreements with industry guilds, interpretation of agency/guild and state regulations, development of ongoing professional development resources and seminars, dispute resolution expertise, a residual tracking system, political action and discounts/referrals.
How Do I Get An Agent?
If you are an actor, writer, director or other artist seeking work in the
entertainment industry and you are looking for agency representation, you can view and/or print a list of ATA's professional licensed talent agencies on this website. You may also contact the applicable guild or union that represents artists in the fields in which you seek employment. Check out Links on the ATA website under About ATA.
How do I become a talent agent?
Talent agents come from varied backgrounds, including the performing arts, business, and law. Successful agents possess a deep understanding of artists' creative and business needs. It is a demanding business with the benefit of working in a dynamic industry with very talented people. Many find an entry point as an agent assistant, or in the mailroom at a large talent agency.
Twenty-two states require an agency license. Check out Licensing on the ATA website for more information.
Do ATA agencies vary in size and the type of services offered?
ATA member companies represent artist clients across the entertainment landscape. ATA members are a diverse group and offer a range of services. ATA member agencies may have a staff of hundreds or a staff of two! ATA member agencies collectively represent the vast majority of working artists.
What makes ATA agents stand out?
Membership in ATA is only granted to those companies that meet all the qualifications.