How to get signed by a motion graphic design agentw/ Drew Melton
For some people, the idea of working with an agent who helps you to find work seems like a dream come true. But how do you even go about getting signed by a motion graphic design agent?
Join Hayley and Drew Melton, Founder of artist representation agency Closer and Closer as he shares his tips on how to find the perfect agent and foster an amazing partnership with them.
About Drew Melton
Drew Melton started out his career as a graphic designer. He dropped out of college and started freelancing full-time.
He started a blog called The Phraseology Project. People could submit their work and he used this to practice his typography and grow his following at the same time.
He started Closer and Closer out of an attempt to get out there and meet people – he felt like he lived in a beautiful, extroverted city but he spent all his time indoors in front of a computer screen. He decided to leverage his natural people skills and his experience to bring people together to accomplish more than they could on their own.
The difference between a recruitment company and a representation agency
A recruitment agency works to fill a position temporarily. However a representation agency works with an artist on an ongoing basis and they’re hired specifically based on the artist’s style and voice.
Clients come to them because they want that artist specifically, rather than just someone to fit a role.
The benefits of having an agent
Learning and creating in public is all about learning in an online space and bringing your audience along with you.
So for example, learning in public could be starting a podcast so you’re able to interview people you inspire, or doing a live workshop where you take feedback on board at the time.
Things don’t have to be perfect for you to put them out there.
How to work effectively with clients on projects
Anyone who is performing at the top of their game always has help. In order for you to do the best work possible, you need to give some of the other tasks to other people. When you’re doing menial admin work, you’re taking time away from developing your craft.
Drew says that if he were a freelance motion designer, he would try to free up as much time as possible so he could spend it honing his craft. The more you hone your craft, the more people will be willing to pay you.
There are three things that Drew focusses on for new clients – number one is doing better marketing. Marketing allows you to go after bigger, higher-paying projects. They make sure that their artists are getting seen in front of the right people so they never have to worry that the reason they’re not getting hired is because they’re not being seen.
Number two is management. The more successful you become as an artist, the more time you’re going to have to spend away from doing what you love. Therefore Closer and Closer handle all artist enquiries, contracts, negotiations, administration and invoicing. They also have Project Managers to keep track of individual projects.
For a lot of artists, what they consider to be a “large fee” to clients isn’t actually that large. Therefore they get the benefit of the better terms and pricing that agents can provide.
Number three is community. They have 48 different artists who are all incredible at what they do – but freelance life can be incredibly lonely. Closer and Closer try to foster community with monthly feedback, internal training and meet-ups to make people feel like they’re a part of something bigger.
How to get signed by a motion graphic design agent
You need to start by reaching out to people – and if they don’t get back to you, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested. It may just mean that they’re busy or maybe they’re not the person who’s the decision maker.
You are allowed to be persistent and in fact, Drew encourages persistence. You may feel like you’re being annoying, but persistence goes a really long way. He receives 10-20 portfolios a week and the people who are persistent in following up are the ones he’ll get to first.
To have an agent, you need to have a really unique style that the agent can sell. Because if your work is too similar to other peoples’ it’s very hard for an agent to sell your work to clients. Secondly, you have to be a master of your craft and be able to execute every project with excellence.
Something that will help you is having a presence on Instagram and showcasing your recent work. If Drew is looking at someone’s portfolio and there’s no recent work, that will lower his interest.
How to make the most out of your relationship with an agent
Different agencies specialise in different things. For example, Closer and Closer specialise in corporate and tech industry work. It’s not an agent’s job to do all of the work for an artist – they also need to put in the work to make sure they are successful.
It’s important that you think about what you need from an agent and that you communicate this with them to make sure you’re both on the same page. At the end of the day, you’re partners and you need to have a trusting, honest relationship with them for things to work.
You should also ask for coaching and feedback from your agent – everything else is the bare minimum you should expect from an agent. They should be able to draw from their experiences seeing tens of peoples’ careers.
Lastly, your agent has contacts and insights but look for ways to leverage that relationship to get in contact with a person at a particular place where you’d like to work. An agent should be well-connected in your industry and great with fostering relationships. Don’t be afraid to tell your agent how they can improve in a constructive way.
Would you ever consider working with an agent? If not, why not? Those who have, how did you find it? Let us know in the comments section below!
ln this episode
- An introduction to Drew
- How a carbon monoxide leak made him totally rethink his career
- The origins of Closer & Closer
- The difference between a recruitment agency and a representation agency
- The three key benefits of having an agent
- How to get signed by an agency
- How to make the most out of your relationship with an agent
“I discovered that the interests I had were helping other artists to establish their careers.” [6.39]
“Anyone who is at the top of their career, whether it be an artist, or an athlete – they always have help.” [11.42]
“There are a lot of great artists who aren’t getting hired because the right people haven’t seen their work” [15.20]
Download our free social media guide for 52 weeks of social media content inspiration
Find out more about Closer and Closer
Follow @closerandcloserco on Instagram
Drew Melton (00:00): I think one of the biggest things that you have to be willing to do is put yourself out there. And if you're wanting to be repped by someone, if there's an agency that you're really excited about or a couple of them reach out, and if you don't hear back, reach out again, I get probably 10 to 20 portfolios a week. I don't have time to look at them all. I eventually will look at them, but if someone is persistent, the likelihood that I'm going to be able to actually get to that email or whatever is going to be much higher.
Hayley Akins (00:32): Hey Hatchings welcome to the motion hatch podcast. I'm your host, Hayley Akins. Hey, hatchings and welcome to episode 90 full of the Motion Hatch podcast, almost at 100. And I'm really, really excited to be here for this show today. So we've spoken about working with, and how to get rep on the podcast before. But what we haven't done is spoken to anyone from an artist representation agency on the podcast. So on today's show, we have freelance illustrator turned agency owner drew Melton. Now he is the founder of closer and closer and closer and closer are an artist representation agency based out of LA. So on this episode, we covered what to do to get signed by a rep and also how to get the most out of your rap. It was really great to hear from someone who regularly signs artists. And I know that you're going to get a lot out of this episode around building relationships and also marketing too. So even if you aren't looking for a rep to get clients right now, I still think there's a lot of value in this episode. So let's get into it.
Hayley Akins (01:48): Hey Drew, thank you so much. It's nice to be here. Thanks for having me. So do you want to start by telling the audience a little bit about you and what you do? Yeah, so
Drew Melton (01:57): My background I was a kid with many interests. I was into all sorts of things and one of them was programming and graph well programming and I was programming websites and that led me to graphic design. I ended up getting an internship at a design agency in high school, and that led me to go to art school. Which honestly, I don't think I would have done if it wasn't for that internship. I went to an art school in grand rapids, Michigan called Kendall college of art and design. And I studied graphic design there for about three years and I loved it. But I was ambitious and impatient. So I dropped out. And it was really, I always really struggled because I was always taking freelance work and I had an internship at another company and was doing a lot of stuff that they were supposedly teaching us about in college, but I wasn't quite getting because I was already learning it in the real world.
Drew Melton (02:48): And so a lot of the stuff they were actually teaching at the time was outdated so much to my parents' chagrin I dropped out of college and started freelancing. When I first out there were a lot of artists that were doing hand lettering and typographic kind of as its own thing, which was new to me because lettering previously had been sort of thought of as like the graphic designers thing. There's artists like herb Lavalin and different artists in that category from like the sixties and seventies who really integrated type into their work. But yeah, and lettering is sort of craft was new and it was something that I was really, really interested in. So I started seeing a lot of artists like Darren booze and Jessica Hische and John Contino and Eric Marinovich and these incredible artists posting their work on dribble and, and Instagram, which was all kind of new at the time.
Drew Melton (03:41): And so I started doing that. I started a blog called the phrasiology project where people could submit words and phrases, and I would basically use those to practice doing lettering and typography. And that's how I sort of like built my skills and my following simultaneously to the point that it ended up landing me a job here in Los Angeles, California at a company called Sevenly as their lead apparel designer. I worked there for a year designed over a hundred shirts for them. I was a purist, I did everything by hand and then I'd bring it to the computer before vectoring it and I always wanted it to it'd be perfect. So I made a lot of extra work for myself. But at the end of that year, I wanted to go back to freelance and yeah, we lived in this apartment in echo park here in Los Angeles that had a carbon monoxide leak in it.
Drew Melton (04:27): And so that was kind of a turning point where I started developing symptoms of pretty extreme anxiety and depression and physical issues that we're all sort of heightened because this carbon monoxide leak that we didn't find out about for like two and a half years slowly, that was in like literally three feet from my desk. And so it really starts change my relationship to art. And at the end of 2016, I was just sort of burning out in the freelance lifestyle. And I was like, if I do this for another 40 years, I'm going to go crazy. I've got to do something else. And so I started closer and closer kind of out of this desperate attempt originally to want to I felt really good isolated. We live in a beautiful sunny city. That's very extroverted, I would say. And I was spending all day kind of in my, in basically like a spare room in our apartment, looking out the window.
Drew Melton (05:23): And I really wanted to use some of my natural gifts and abilities and leveraged sort of my experience and things like that to do things that were bigger than me. And so the idea behind closer and closer was literally about bringing people together to accomplish more than they could on their own. That was sort of like the raw heartbeat of it is. I want to just see what happens if we get more people together. I don't want to be the center of it all. I don't want it to just be about me. I want to see what can happen when we start working together. Cause I love relationships. I love meeting people and collaborating. So this is a whole other story, but we lived in new Orleans for a year. So I started closer and closer in new Orleans, January 1st, 2017. And at first I literally just started handing off projects to other illustrators that I knew and started collaborating with them and sort of creative directing, but six months into it, after we'd done some kind of like brand packages, which included websites and all that kind of stuff.
Drew Melton (06:20): I definitely knew I didn't want to be a creative agency. That was not, I was not interested in that world. And I honestly wasn't interested in creative directing, but I was, what I found is that my interest was in helping the artists that I was working with, build their careers. And I started hearing them talk about the things that they struggled with and they happened to be things that I was either interested in or good at like negotiating, talking to clients, finding clients, all of that kind of stuff and all the anxieties they deal with. I knew intimately as a freelancer myself, but I F I had a desire to sort of work on that sort of business management side of things and see what was possible. So I had a really, really good life coach at the time who sort of helped me navigate through this question of like, what would it look like to, to have an artist representation agency and help these artists build their careers?
Drew Melton (07:14): And it was honestly a lot of trial and error from basically halfway through 2017 to today. It's been four years and we've built an, a roster of about 48 artists. And we have a team of six full-time staff and there's like two or three people that work with us on a sort of consulting basis. And it's just been incredible to see how things have grown and evolved and developed. But I think one of the things that's sort of been the main driver of any growth and success that we've had has been the sort of artists centered focus of the agency. So just like we were talking about before we started recording you guys do a coaching and development and education, that is a huge priority for us internally as a representation agency. Our view is that if the artist grows and develops, the agency is going to grow as a result of that. So basically without them having success, we can't have, we don't really do anything other than manage and develop and cultivate and sort of connect artists with clients. So we, we really have built the agency on that focus of going, how do we put the artists first in everything that we're doing so that no matter what, you know, if they work with us for a year or 10 years, they'll walk away better off than when they started. So that's a little backstory.
Hayley Akins (08:28): Yeah, that sounds really awesome. I'm just really intrigued about, you know, the, kind of the difference really for anyone listening, who doesn't know between like a traditional kind of recruitment company and like a rep representation agency, if that's how you would say it. Cause I think like some people, some people who are listening might not know kind of what the difference is. So I'd love to hear that from you.
Drew Melton (08:55): I don't know a ton about recruiting companies in detail, but I can kind of, I can paint with some broad brush strokes from what I've heard and what I've seen from other agencies. So a recruiting agency kind of someone puts out, you know, a need for someone to fill a job, a position, and probably for a temporary, you know, on a project basis or maybe for a contract term of like three months or something. And in a recruiting firm, they would just place you with a person to fill that job or that role. And that person kind of does whatever you give them to do with representation. What's really different and unique about it is it's kind of like being an agent for like an athlete or an actor or something like that. But, you know, in terms of the scope, it's not quite as big and grandiose and all that kind of stuff.
Drew Melton (09:40): But with our artists, the differences that people hire our artists for their style and for their voice specifically. So the stronger the artists voices, the stronger their style and even the stronger their brand is online. The more interested people will be in working with them individually and like, and so instead of it being, we need a graphic designer or we need an illustrator. They're like, we need this artist because they fit the brief for a number of reasons. Their style is perfect for it. Their background's perfect for it, whatever it is. Our artists sort of fill a specific role and bring something to the table as themselves basically.
Hayley Akins (10:22): Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I just wanted to clarify that because I think sometimes there's a bit of confusion about kind of where those sort of lines are and things like that. So I just kind of wanted to put that out there, up front so that everyone's clear about, okay, this is what, you know, representation agency does and stuff like that. So do you want to tell us a bit about like what the benefits are of having an agent then versus like, you know, being a freelancer out on your own? Yeah. And that's the,
Drew Melton (10:51): I mean, especially when I first started, there was a sort of what would I say, not a cynicism. There was a, there was always sort of a hesitancy about why do I need you? I have the internet, right. I can put my website, I can put up a Squarespace or an Instagram page, no problem. You know, and people already finding me, you know, I've got these clients that are finding me and I'm getting jobs and it's working, you know, so what is an agent going to do that I can't already do? And that was a question we sort of wrestled with for a long time, but a few things come to mind. The first thing that I think about is like anyone who's performing at the top of their game, whether it's an athlete or a musician or performer or whatever, they always have help, you would never see someone getting ready to play a show, unless they're like S like at the beginning of their career, setting up the speakers, building the stage, setting up the merge tent, doing all that kind of stuff.
Drew Melton (11:46): Their job is to come out and be put on the best show, possible, whatever that looks like. And if they were doing, if they were the tent and building their website and doing all that kind of, they couldn't be an incredible artists, you know, whatever that takes time and it takes effort and it takes focus to hone and dial in that craft. And so I think when a lot of people see when they think that they're sort of in control of everything, what they're actually doing is limiting their potential because the time that you spend right, doing all the busy work, the administration, sending invoices, responding to inquiries, et cetera, is time that's being taken away from COVID and a truly unique voice and a craft that people will pay you a premium for. So my first thing would be my goal. If I was a freelance illustrator would be to free myself up from all the stuff.
Drew Melton (12:33): That's not my main thing, so that I could focus on honing my craft. And the more you hone your craft, the more people are going to pay you because you're going to be able to do things that are increasingly rare and valuable. So that's my, that'll be my first reason for having an agent, but what I'll kind of share the things that we talk about with potential new artists that we're recruiting for the roster. There's three things that we sort of offer someone. The first one is marketing. Every artist wants bigger projects with better budgets and better clients. Like, I don't know anyone. Who's like, you know, I'm just fine with this. And it's okay if it never changes, you know because you know, bigger projects are normally more fun and they're more interesting. And as you grow, you want to be sure, challenged and inspired.
Drew Melton (13:19): They're normally more tailored to you because if someone's going to invest a lot of money into a big project it's generally going to be more interesting work that is usually tailored to a specific artist. And yeah, you have to work less. Basically if you're doing lots of little projects, it's hard to have that focus that we talked about. And so it's it. We would all rather have, you know, four $25,000 projects than a hundred, $5,000 projects. So what we do, we market our artists through our email newsletter. We have a email list that we email a couple of times, like four or five times a month with new work and new artists features and all sorts of things to promote our artists. So for our artists, when they come on, instead of putting your stuff on Instagram and hoping it gets seen our first job is making sure that your work gets in front of the right people, our buyers, producers, et cetera, so that you never have to wonder if you're, if you're not getting hired because you're not getting seen.
Drew Melton (14:16): So our first job is to make sure that you're getting seen. So our newsletter has people from Nike and apple and Facebook, all of those kinds of places subscribed. And we send out work to them. We also send work out directly to the art directors, producers, buyers, et cetera, that we've worked with in the past. So when an artist comes on, yeah, they know that their work is literally being sent out directly to an art director, Pepsi for an art director at Disney or something like that. And we can't help if they get hired, but we can at least promise that their exposure is going to increase. And that increases the potential for new work. We also do things like we help artists by putting them on our Instagram, having them do takeovers, do all that kind of stuff. I think I sound like I'm pitching closer and closer.
Drew Melton (14:59): This is just the way that I think about what an agent should do, but we we've, we basically spend as much energy energy as we can getting our artists work in front of the right people. Because a lot of whenever we recruit someone, we think that their work is really good. And I believe a lot of times there's a lot of great artists who aren't getting hired just because the right people haven't seen the work. So that's our first job is make sure the work gets in front of the right people. The second, second thing is management. And this is kind of what we talked about at the beginning is if you're an artist, the more successful you become, the more you're going to be doing things that actually take you away from your first love, which is the art itself. So for us, we handle all their inquiries.
Drew Melton (15:41): In north America, we handle contract administration, invoicing, collections, all that kind of stuff. And we have project coordinators that help keep projects running smoothly. So for an artist they're freeing up, they should be freeing up tons of time to focus on being the best artists that can be possible and just freeing them up. No one, no one loves sending emails. I don't think no one loves sending invoices and doing all that kind of stuff. No one loves following up on the invoice to make sure it gets paid on time. So if we take that off the artist plate and no one likes talking about money for most artists, that's not their, their passion. That's not, what's going to give them joy. So the management really frees up an artist again, to focus on their craft and have people that really know what they're doing.
Drew Melton (16:25): Talking about it in a big part of management is negotiating. A lot of artists are selling themselves short on projects. So for instance, we have one artist who is working with a client of ours and they were doing animations like five, 10, second spot animations for this client, great client. And they were doing them for 3,500. And so our standard rate with that client for those same animations is $10,000. So, and there's a standard, there's no negotiating. It's just, we've got a, we've got a spreadsheet with all the standard pricing on it and it sort of, it's just set and ready to go. So for that artist, their rate has automatically doubled based on being with us as an agency. And for a lot of artists, what they think might be a big number might not actually be that big of a number. And it can be hard because they don't want to lose the project.
Drew Melton (17:14): They don't want to scare the client off, but because we have so much experience with these clients on a repeat basis and we're set up as vendors with them and all that stuff, the artists get the benefit of that better pricing in terms and all that kind of stuff. So that's a huge part of management is sort of improving the work that they are getting and freeing them up to do what they love to do. And then the last thing for us is community. I don't, I don't know how many agencies do this, so I don't know if this is normal. I think the first two things might be a little more common and sort of obvious, but we have this roster of 48 world-class artists that are incredible, you know, at different aspects of the craft. Some of them are great at animation and illustration and all this kind of stuff.
Drew Melton (17:57): We've all been freelance. And this is something that I struggled with for a long time. You can end up just feeling like isolated in your, in your room, you know, in a, in an apartment or in a house kind of thousands of miles away from everybody and not really feel like you're a part of something. And so we really, really foster and encourage community. We do internal things called crash courses where artists will teach something that they know and other artists can come and learn from it. And we'll record those and share with the roster. We do monthly meetups, they do feedback Fridays where they get together and share work. And we really encourage people to leverage this network in this community that's right here, because they could learn so much from each other. And we want them to feel like they're a part of something bigger than themselves. So those, I mean, I don't know, maybe that's too broad or too specific or it's too much of a sales pitch, but those are the reasons that I would that's that we kind of put forward to our artists of why they would have representation.
Hayley Akins (18:54): Yeah, I think it's good to talk about it though, because people are out there obviously listening to this and they're thinking about, well, okay, is that something I need? You know, and I, I think you know, I mean, it sounds really good. So if I'm a motion designer I'm listening to this, I'm like, yeah, cool drew. But like, how do I get signed? You know, how do I get an agent
Drew Melton (19:16): Badger them? One of the things I have, we had shared some notes before and, and one of the things that artists, I think being an artist myself, we are sensitive. And so we're afraid to sort of come off awkward or strange or make people feel uncomfortable or anything like that. And I think one of the biggest things that you have to be willing to do is put yourself out there. And if you're wanting to be repped by someone, if there's an agency that you're really excited about or a couple of them reach out, and if you don't hear back, reach out again, I get probably 10 to 20 portfolios a week. I don't have time to look at them. All. I eventually will look at them, but if someone is persistent, the likelihood that I'm going to be able to actually get to that email or whatever is going to be much higher.
Drew Melton (20:05): So if someone's looking for an agent, the first thing is just reach out, make the initial contact because these people everyone's busy. And if they don't respond, it doesn't mean they don't like you. It just means they probably are really busy. They might not have even opened an email or they opened it and they couldn't respond, or they're not the person who can make the decision on something. But my first thing would be just reach out to people. Cause you never know. And, and try to change that narrative in your head. That's saying I'm annoying them. This is bothering them. They don't like me. I know that that's normal. But if you can, if you can change that narrative to, they're probably busy. I just need to keep following up and they'll actually appreciate it because there'll be reminded to get back in touch if interested.
Drew Melton (20:48): I think that's huge. But if someone does want an agent, one of the first things that they have to have is two things. They first have to have a unique style that that agent can sell. If an agent can't sell your work, if your work is if your work is very comparable to a lot of people, it's tough to negotiate that it's hard to charge a premium for that kind of work. And so there's a difference between there are some incredible production artists and people that we work with and hire out for projects that are amazing, like amazing production artists that we could never represent. Just because they don't have their own style. They work a lot of times with people who have a strong style to support them. And those people are awesome and we need those people, but if there's someone who's going, I want to be repped.
Drew Melton (21:34): If you're going to be erect a artist, you really have to make sure that you're developing a strong perspective and style. And the second thing is you have to be a master of your craft because deadlines are fast. When I'm looking at a portfolio, I have to, I need to see some level of technical ability. That shows me that this person is not just good at what they do and they can kind of execute it, but they're great at what they do. And so if they have that strong voice, that's really, really special and unique and they're excellent at their craft. Meaning if they get a project, they can, they can execute it with excellence. And those two things are huge. So first reach out, make sure you have a unique voice and make sure that you really have a strong grasp on your craft and that you're continually growing.
Drew Melton (22:19): The other thing I was going to say is put your work out there. You know, Instagram, Instagram people, it's Instagram is so annoying because it's like, I feel like people think it's always dying. And it's also a thing that people, I understand it, they don't like doing it necessarily where like everyone's kind of addicted to it, but they kind of hate it. And it's this weird relationship, but you've got to be, if I'm looking at someone's portfolio and I am, I'm not seeing new work on a regular basis, if I'm not seeing them growing and putting things out there, their latest project was a year ago or two years ago, that is going to sort of lower my interest because you want to see people that are continually putting work out and just growing and developing. Does that, does that answer the question?
Hayley Akins (23:05): Yeah, definitely. I think it's really interesting as somebody we talk about all the time, I'm always trying to tell people, you know, you need to be putting stuff out consistently on Instagram and stuff like that, you know, and it can be a bit more doable. Like he can kind of break your projects up, show more behind the scenes and, you know, maybe like post once a week instead of daily, you know, there's things like that. Like we don't have to like you know, I hate the idea of like, everybody has to do dailies and stuff like that. And, you know, I just, I don't know what you think, but I just don't think it's like what people are looking for. They're like info, quality, but also like some consistency as well, like obviously helps the algorithm. So it's kind of a balance between that. Yeah.
Drew Melton (23:47): And there's a difference between the portfolio and the Instagram to your point, Hailey, like someone could break up a project and do a final piece. They could do an in process shot. They could show alternative sketches. I heard this, I think it was from gamma. O'brien actually, who's really incredible letter. And artists from Australia who was talking about showing work from a year ago, like find the hits that you really like, and you want people to hire you for and reshare those pieces because not everyone sees the work. So even to someone like me is scrolling through a profile I don't know if that piece was from yesterday or a year ago, but to see that sort of continued output there is really, really helpful. And then the portfolio just shows is the person working because you don't want to show everything.
Drew Melton (24:35): That you're, that's not, it's a curated space. It's obviously a little bit different. But I think for a lot of people, they also, I don't think daily is necessary. I think to your point, Hailey, I think a weekly cadence is pretty good. Because people just underestimate that sort of consistent slow. It's not even slow every week is pretty good. Yeah. You're doing a pretty good job if you're there, but it's actually a lot over the course of the year, that's 52 posts. Right. So it's that, that just that consistency is oftentimes really, really we underwrite that and underappreciate what it can do
Hayley Akins (25:11): Over time. Definitely. Yeah. It's funny that you mentioned the 52 posts cause we've got like a free social media guide that gives you like suggestions of like 52 posts basically based on different types of things that you could do, you know, building community, showing your work and things like that. So if anyone wants to download that, they can, I think it's a motion hatch.com forward slash social media, or we'll put it in the show notes as well. Yeah. I think it's really helpful. Cause you know, sometimes you're just like, okay, I've got these projects. I don't know how to break them up. I don't know, you know how to put them out there. I haven't got any ideas, you know, and just having some prompts can really help you. So I think I think that'd be really useful for sure. Cool. So I wanted to talk a bit about you know, how can we get the most out of our, you know, if we have an agent, cause obviously like we've talked a bit about how to get one, we talked about the benefits. So like, you know, say we've got an agent, so how do I get the most out of that and how, how do I kind of make sure that they're going to get me some work? Like I feel like that's the most important thing, right?
Drew Melton (26:16): Yeah. And that's the, that's the number one question. How are you going to get me jobs? I think the first I kind of, I'm going to say this two ways, the first, this might come across a little bit intense, but it's not, it's not the agent's job to get you jobs. The agent's job is to get you out there and to represent you to clients and make sure that the right people are seeing, you know and this is where we kind of talk about, do you have a unique voice? Do you have a strong craft? Are you bringing something? Do you have something that people want? You might be really good at something that not a lot of people want and that agent, so the reason why I say it's not their job to go get you jobs is I think people view an agent as someone who's just there to like Mike, do all of this stuff, like sort of make magic happen for you.
Drew Melton (27:06): Right. And there's different agents that are good at different things. So for instance, we're, we're very corporate and, and tech heavy. So yeah, we work a lot with these clients such as Facebook and apple and Disney. What they tend to need is different than people who might be really, really heavily into like I dunno like, like food and beverage, you know, or people who are looking for someone who's going to help them get published. You know, there's literary agents and publishing agents and people who do things like that. So a part of it on your end as an artist is to make sure that you're aware of what you're looking for from the relationship. Right. And to make sure that you're sharing those goals with that agent and treating them as a partner, because again, a lot of artists come in, they go, I just want bigger jobs, a better PR you know, and that kind of, and that's our number.
Drew Melton (27:59): We want to see every artist working all the time. But what we tell our artists is, Hey, if you're going to come here, you have to be engaged and you have to grow. Like you're going to have to put in work for this. You're going to have to, we, we coach our artists on how to do their marketing and how to build their social profiles, how to build their email lists and do all that stuff. But the artist has to put in the work on that front. So we're here to like do everything we can to create sort of environment for success. But if that artist isn't clear on what they're trying to achieve, and they've kind of got this ambiguous idea that everything's going to be magical with an agent, I think that can make the relationship really tough because instead of treating the agent like a partner that you're trying to achieve something with and having clear goals, you can end up being really frustrated and disappointed, and that can be really hard.
Drew Melton (28:47): The second thing is asked for what you need in the relationship. So I've heard so many artists talk to them, especially artists who've had bad experiences with agents and there's a lot of not correct. I mean, the amount of people that are like, don't an agent don't want to talk to an agent, have the worst experience with an agent. Like they just had sort of this big X, they were like stay away for me. And when I talked to him about the experience yeah, a lot of them were really frustrated and disappointed because they weren't getting jobs. They didn't feel like the relationship was that productive. And I, and I asked him, I said, did you talk to him about it? Was there a conversation about, you know, what you wanted out of the relationship or your frustration with it and they were, and what they had told me was, no, I didn't want to bother them.
Drew Melton (29:32): And so again, going into that relationship going like, this is your partner. There should be someone that is a trusted relationship where you can literally go this working so that you can figure out a, if they're the right fit or not. And B what both of you guys can do to improve things. And a lot of times our artists and us we've had conversations with our artists coming from us to the artists saying, Hey, this isn't working and from them to us, and they're great, they're such beneficial. So if you want to get the most out of your rep, make sure that you ask for what you need and you keep that ongoing sort of conversation going, you know, even just asking, Hey, how's this working? How are we, are we happy with this? Do we like this is this beneficial? You know, where do we do?
Drew Melton (30:15): We feel like this is a good relationship. Moving forward. Those questions are really, really important. If you can initiate those and send your agent an email and be like, Hey, I'd love to just talk about how things are going and where we see things going in the future and what we'd like to see more of, or less over whatever that can transform the relationship. Because now instead of hoping something happens and being either frustrated because your needs aren't being met or something that partner, it turns into a collaborative relationship. And if they're not willing to collaborate, you should find a new agent which can be, but it's, you know, it's your career. You should, you should take it seriously. The second thing is you should ask for coaching and feedback to me now, negotiating your deals and providing management and stuff is the minimum.
Drew Melton (31:02): If an agent isn't really providing good management, admin and support in that area as you're agent again, you should find a new agent, but I think, I think now what's needed more than ever as so many artists can find their own clients on their own with a website and Instagram, the agent really needs to be your coach and your guide. So as you're going through this, you know, ask for feedback, ask for coaching, ask for them to look at your portfolio and give you feedback on their, based on their experience in working with commercial clients that you want to work with and seeing all kinds of other artists' careers. Because it was it's interesting when I was first an artist when I was an artist, you have this singular perspective that you build your entire worldview around your professional worldview and you go, I'm slow.
Drew Melton (31:48): So things must be slow for everybody, you know, or I have difficult clients. So clients just must be difficult for everybody, an agent, if they're good, again, should be able to give you a coaching and feedback based on seeing a wide number of people's careers, right. And that can benefit you greatly because they can go, Hey, I've seen how great artists operate and it looks like this, or I've seen a really poorly performing artists operate. And it looks like this here's where you could tweak and improve to really start to up your game and get the clients you want, or get the, you know, reach the level of whatever you're trying to achieve accomplished. They should be a good coach. And they should, we'll be teaching you what they've learned through experience. The third thing is to leverage their resources not, and this kind of comes back to like asking for what you need, but you know, your agent contacts, connections, insights, et cetera.
Drew Melton (32:42): This kind of goes with the coaching and stuff, but look for ways to leverage that relationship too. I don't know if you want to get in contact with someone at a place, you know, an agent is and should be reaching out to people to get your work out there, but you could also reach out to them. You know, if they know somebody that you want to make an introduction or share your work personally, find out a way to leverage those resources or use them to get an intro to other artists that you really admire or just different people like that. An agent should be a well-connected person in the industry and relationships are one of the biggest determining factors. I think in long-term success, like the stronger your network of connections, the more likely your longterm sec, the more, the higher your likelihood of having long-term success is going to be so leverage the resources that they bring to the table, whatever that looks like, you know, whether that's knowledge, network, et cetera.
Drew Melton (33:35): And then the last thing is just to tell them how they can improve. If you're an artist, tell agents, this isn't so much about critique, it can be a critique. I emailed five artists a week and I asked them how things are going and what we could be doing better based on a few different areas of the agency. And I always want to know how can we improve and add more value to you guys, right? So for you as an artist, be be bold about going, Hey, it would be amazing if I could get paid in these kinds of terms, or if, you know, I could get these kinds of licensing terms or I'd love to work with this kind of client or I love to do direct to client presentations, whatever it is, tell them what they can do to create more value for you in your career.
Drew Melton (34:19): And so those three things, if you have clearly defined goals for the relationships and for the relationship and you ask what you need, if you're asking for coaching and feedback on a regular basis, leveraging their resources and then letting them know what they can do to serve you better. And you're viewing that as a highly collaborative relationship. I think you're going to get so much out of the relationship with your agent. I think there's going to be a lot more valuable. You're going to be a lot happier with it, or you're going to find out you don't have a good agent for you and you can find someone else and everyone will be happier. I promise.
Hayley Akins (34:51): Yeah. I think that's really awesome. I'm I feel like it's really clear and how I was thinking about it is, it's almost like how you describing it. If you have an agent it's kind of like you have VR in like producer team and like new business team and stuff like that, is that kind of how you view it? Like you'll the, the agency of the people that are going out, talking to the clients, building the relationships and kind of bringing those to you. I guess that's how it works, right? Because you can, you can spend all of your time building the relationships with the clients and things like that. And you don't, you're not doing any of the work. So you're like all of the time was concentrated on that. Well, and the artists can spend all of their time doing Aw, is that kind of how you view it and how it kind works? That's why it works so well, I guess. Yeah. And it's interesting
Drew Melton (35:40): Because a lot of agencies are really client focused and we love our clients. Like we, we, you know, we've developed a really, really good relationships with the clients, but we actually view the artist as the client first. So it's weird because we spend a lot of time focusing actually on the artist, the artist focuses on the work, but we also spend a lot of time focusing on how to get by focusing on the artists. Then we focus on the client, secondarily. But we actually were very upfront with our artists about this. We these days we do, we don't do a lot of cold emailing and sort of prospecting. Like we used to the artist is the ultimate lead generator for us, which is why we spend so much time nurturing them. Because like we said, if we focus on nurturing and developing them and helping them attract great clients, we then once those clients inquire, we nurture and develop those contacts and those relationships and help sort of expand them and it ends up benefiting other artists on the roster.
Drew Melton (36:36): So we might have a client come in, looking for one artist, and then we sort of, you know, we have a CRM and we follow up with those contacts. We do all that kind of stuff, but we nurture and we, you know, we might do a client presentation. We'll, we'll bring three artists in and have them present directly to the client. And COVID has been such an awesome opportunity because now everyone's doing zoom calls, everyone's working from home. So instead of having to go into an agency, bring donuts, bring coffee, set up a presentation, do this whole thing. Now the artists get to come in directly and do a presentation for some of the biggest clients on the planet. And so it's this weird thing where we're still doing a lot of these sales and marketing activities, but it's always through the portal of how can we bring the artists directly into this and make them a part of it so that they get a chance to present to a dream client or they, you know, or whatever that looks like. So we try to sort of do a lot of these things by focusing on the artists first and then the other stuff, secondarily.
Hayley Akins (37:33): Yeah. That's awesome. Well, thanks for giving us like a bit more of a behind the scenes about how it all works and things like that. I feel like it's hopefully gonna open everyone's eyes and make them think like, okay, this is like an option, you know, and now I understand it a bit better because I feel like in the past, it's kind of been a little bit cloak and dagger, maybe with agencies and some, you know, because it's hard to get in touch with them and like find out what they do for you and you know, all of this kind of stuff. So I really appreciate you, like coming on the show and telling us like, all about how it works and you know, how we can get signed and all that kind of stuff. I think it's been really great. So I guess my final question then is where can we find out a bit more about you and about closer and closer, you're not
Drew Melton (38:18): Going to, well, actually you probably could find out about me. I looked at my dribble page and it's still up the other day. I was like, oh, you can, this is all still up. This is so if you want to find out about me, I don't know, actually I don't have any sort of addresses for me. There's a little bio about me on the closer and closer website, but if you want to find out more about representation and what we do, and kind of see some of our artists work, you can go to closer and closer.co. I think we are closer and closer to CEO on Instagram. And you can check it all out there. And we have a number of email. Somehow we've gone from having one email address to having like five for the public, but there's, there's a few different ways to get in touch with us on our website there.
Hayley Akins (39:00): Right? Well, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Speaker 4 (39:02): Thank you so much for having me.
Hayley Akins (39:05): Thanks so much to drew for coming on the show. If you enjoy this podcast, please do leave us a rating review. Wherever you get your podcasts from this really helps more artists find the show. And we also really appreciate it. Thanks for your support. See you next time when we have Justin Archer on the show telling us how he built his passive income template business, that allowed him to create his own creative studio. Thanks so much for listening. I appreciate you. See ya.
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