In an earlier blog post, we addressed some of the legal issues facing social media stars, such as paid endorsement disclosures and trademark infringement. In addition to legal issues, there are also assorted practical business decisions that social media personalities must address in order to be successful. One of the most basic skills that every social media star should master is how to properly parse opportunities and learn not say “yes” to every offer that comes his/her way. This post will discuss one of the most fundamental issues facing social media personalities: representation.
Social Media Star Team
One of the most important determinants of a budding social media star’s success is often the business team that he/she employs. Depending on the social media star’s talent and chosen field (music, acting, modeling, comedy, etc.), his/her team may consist of an agent, manager, lawyer, publicist, agency and brand strategist. It should be noted that social media stars may choose to employ one individual to fulfill several of the foregoing roles. For instance, it is quite common to have one person serve as manager/agent/publicist.
The most important takeaway is that the majority of social media stars do not need a large team and not every offer of representation should be entertained.
Choosing a Team
The foregoing begs the question: how do social media stars pick the right team? The first step for burgeoning social media stars is to have a sense of their ultimate goal, whether that be as a recording artist, model, film or stage actor, writer, journalist, etc. The sooner that a social media star can align his/her interests with that of a traditional career, the easier that it will be to determine what team members will be required to help achieve success. For instance, a manager will be much more essential for an aspiring musician than for an up-and-coming model, due to the fact that models tend to sign with agencies, which serve as both agent and manager.
No matter the chosen career path, some of the social media star’s most important decisions occur early on. A team of industry savvy individuals may generate opportunities for their client that will not normally be available. For instance, the entertainment industry is reliant on one’s relationships and reputation within the field. Aligning oneself with a dishonest manager may have grave consequences to a social media star’s success. Even the most talented individual will not be very successful if he/she cannot get an audition due to the reputation of their manager.
Therefore, it is important that social media stars carefully vet their potential representatives to ensure that they have the knowledge, experience and reputation necessary to further the star’s respective career. Ask potential representatives about: 1) their previous experience; 2) their previous clients; and 3) what their long-term success strategy is.
Essential Team Members
The most essential team members are one’s manager/agent and legal counsel. The manager/agent is necessary to secure the projects, and the attorney, among other things, ensures that the social media star is protected from violating applicable law and releasing valuable intellectual property rights without proper compensation. Oftentimes, employing parties will attempt to capitalize on social media stars’ excitement and naivety with respect to their experience with the “ins” and “outs” of the entertainment industry. As such, social media stars may be confronted with engagement agreements that deviate significantly from industry standards, requiring them to give up their rights in perpetuity (forever) or signing long-term/all-encompassing deals at a set rate. Some arrangements may include up-front advances, which may appear very attractive at first blush, but require stringent recoupment schedules and penalties. If social media stars employ well-seasoned management and legal representation, they will be protected from making poor business decisions and throwing their careers away before they even begin.