Modeling Basics: Commercial Contracts and Usage

So you’re a new model slash actor and you’ve done a few test shoots, maybe some spec student work, and you’re finally booking some small jobs. Then you get the email from your agent that looks something like this:


Exclusivity, buy outs, residuals, usage… these are all commercial contract terms you’ll come across in your modeling career and you need to know what they mean to decide if doing the job makes sense for your career long term.

Exclusivity means just what the email suggests: you’re signing an agreement saying you won’t do work for a competing company for a fixed period of time. If you sign an exclusivity agreement, make sure it’s for a fixed period of time that makes sense for you, and that it’s not “in perpetuity” (meaning forever). Is it total exclusivity? Web only? Cable TV? Print? Protect yourself legally by knowing exactly you’re agreeing too.

eBay holiday commercial

Holiday commercial for eBay. Usage: national cable for four weeks.

Usage means how the work will be distributed (B2B, television, print) and for how long. When you do a job you agree to where the work will be seen and for what period of time. Again, “in perpetuity” requires some thought.

Residuals are payments made for repeated showings of an actor’s performance. This is why national network TV commercials pay so well is the U.S.. You’re paid a small sum of money every time that commercial airs… everywhere in the country. If you land one of these babies… congratulations. You will be picking up checks from your agent every two weeks until the run is completed. Enjoy the ride.

Buy outs mean that you receive a fixed some for the work. No usage renewal, no TV residuals. You do the work, take the money, and the rights of the work belong to the person or company paying for them. Be very careful with buy outs, because this work can be used forever and ever any way the company wants. If it’s a small holiday promotion in a local area, it’s probably not a big deal. If it’s a global internet and print campaign… talk to your agent and really consider the pros and cons. Can you live with this work being out in the world ten years from now?

Delicious Living Magazine. Usage: Total buy out cover shot.

Delicious Living Magazine. Usage: Total buy out cover shot.

Knowing what you’re signing means you can make smart choices to really grow your career. Modeling and acting isn’t all about being fancy and famous. It’s a business, and you’re the owner. So think long term when making choices about where and how your face will be seen.

Ganbatte and break a leg!





Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...