What is an Agent and the "management" he provides?
What management means for models is quite similar to what it means for musicians, bands, actors, sportmen, etc. It consists in managing the model's career at every step of its development. Just like artists can have a personal manager, models can have an agent who takes care of every aspect of their career.
Just like the manager of a band will find the best recording label for the band, the model's agent will find the most appropriate agency for the model and will manage her business: paperwork, contracts, agenda management, career plans, extra job opportunities, etc.
If the model is already signed with an agency on non-exclusive terms, we can work at developing the model's career in new territories and give it an international perspective.
What exactly is the agent's role?
If the model isn't signed with a model agency yet, the agent's role is to get the model ready to work professionally, and once this is achieved, to introduce the model to the appropriate agencies and get him/her signed. After the model is signed with an agency, the agent's role is to ensure the best positive and most efficient coordination with the agency.
Since the model is usually signed first with an agency operating in the country the model lives in, the agent will then work, whenever appropriate, at developping the model's career internationally via agencies located in other countries.
As the model's personal manager, the agent is the model's permanent councellor, coach and supporter, the one who looks after the model's interests and the one the model can rely on.
Why would a model need an Agent?
Models can do without any sort of personal management the agent provides, introduce oneself directly to agencies, deal with them on their own and from there, manage their career entirely on their own too. But the modeling world and business can be hard to apprehend for anyone who isn't familiar with it and the pitfalls are many.
Signing with the wrong agency, signing the wrong contract, building an unappropriate portfolio, etc. can easily get the model waste a lot of time in a career path where time is crucial or, even worst, can definitely break the model momentum and ambitions.
Beyond that, the agent's role is to develop the model's career when the agencies role is to develop the agency business prior to anything else. If agencies are crucial in their job provider role, they also have a hard job to handle a large roster of models and cannot be always pro-active with every single model they represent. By maintaining an ongoing dialog with the agency, the agent makes sure the best is always done for his models.
Last, it has become crucial today for a model to develop one's career internationally. The biggest agencies that are global and have branches or agreements in many countries are in the best position to promote their models abroad, but can only do it for a limited number of models.
The smaller agencies are only working at the regional level. In that context, the agent might be decisive in developping the model's career internationally.
Can't a model work as a free-lance?
If the answer is theorically yes in every country in the world, the answer is definitely no in France. There is indeed no such thing in France as a free-lance model because it is a legal rule here that models can only work under an employment contract. In France, model agencies have the exclusivity to place models with their clients and the obligation to pay them a salary out of which the full range of social taxes is to be paid by the agency to the tax office.
In other words, it is not legal in France for a model to invoice a client, hence to work as a free-lance.
How much does an agent cost?
The agent gets a commission out of the paid jobs the model gets. In no case the model is paying the agent outside of the commission the agent gets on the model's jobs. In France, model agents work as "Agent Artistique" whose level of commission is set not to be higher than 10% (réf: Décret n° 2011-1018 du 25 août 2011 relatif à la rémunération des agents artistiques). In other words, the agent costs nothing to the model before the agent has made possible for the model to get paid jobs.
Agency, Agent, Scout, Booker, what are their respective roles?
AGENT: The Agent is the personal manager of the model. He is the one who represents the model to third parties. The Agent might have been approched by the model in her/his search for an agent or, reversely, the Agent might have identified someone's potential and proposed that person to help her/him to start a modeling career and be her/his Agent. In that case, the Agent makes sure the model has got everything needed to work at a professional level before introducing the model to a first Agency. From there, the Agent follows up on the developement of the model's career in coordination with the Agency or the Agencies the Agent got the model to sign with.
AGENCY: The Agency represents the models to its clients. The Model signs a contract with the Agency after which the Model can be represented by the Agency. The Agency sells the Model's services to its clients and then pays the amount to the Model after it has taken a commission and paid all the social taxes that are due (ie: social security).
BOOKER: When the model is signed with an Agency, the Agency will assign the model to one of its Booker. The Booker will be the one within the Agency that will cater for the model and represent the model to the clients and sell the model's services to them. In most cases, the Booker will be the one and only person of the Agency the model will be in contact with.
SCOUT: The Scout is the person who looks for and discovers new faces and talents for Agencies. It can be someone who does just that, either for any Agency or for a specific Agency - in which case she/he will be named a "Scout" or it can also be part of the activity of any Agent or of any member of an Agency. Former models are sometimes found scouting for their Agency after they've quit working as a model.
How do we relate to Agencies?
As an Agent, the only person we do work for is the model we represent. We do not work FOR Agencies but we do work WITH them. Agencies are our most natural and crucial partners. We do our best to introduce them with models we think they might be appropriate to their clients and who we know they are reliable and highly professionnal.