Agents earn commission on the work you do. They are not paid upfront fees; they do not sell you photos or workshops or pay for any of your tools, i.e., headshots, zed cards or training.
There are three types of agents:
Print, Commercial & Theatrical
Print: Macy’s Nordstrom, Broadway, Disney, Mattel. Print agents receive a 20% commission from your work. You get paid one time for your print campaign. There is no residual income from print. If you get paid $500 for your Disney advertisement, your agent will receive 20% commission or $100.
Commercials: Television commercials are very lucrative. If you are three seconds recognizable on the screen, you are considered principle. Commercial can pay from $600 to tens of thousand of dollars, depending on the campaign, the client (Sears, Target, McDonalds, etc.). Agents get 10% commission on the entire campaign. If you or your child were to earn $20,000 on a commercial, the agent would receive 10% commission.
Theatrical: Episodic television, movies of the week, feature film. Agents receive 10% commission on your work in any of these venues.