It’s an exciting moment when a modeling agency offers you and your child a contract, as that means the agency believe your child has real potential. But after the thrill and excitement wear off, it is time to take a hard-headed and rational look at the terms of that contract to ensure it is in the best interests of your child. It is also important to remember that in most instances, individual items in the contract are negotiable. Here are the five most important terms in a modeling contract and what they mean for you and your child.
1. Length of the contract.
A typical modeling contract is for one to three years. A short-term contract of a year or two is best for newcomers or part-timers, while a longer contract makes the most sense for a child who is working regularly as a model.
2. Exclusive or non-exclusive contract?
An exclusive contract contract requires you work only with that agency, even for free-lance jobs. A non-exclusive contract allows a model to work with other agencies or on non-agency jobs. Those jobs may not pay a lot, but can provide useful experience for new models. Non-exclusive contracts are best for newcomers and those in smaller cities, where the opportunities are limited. Exclusive contracts are more common for established models who are in demand.
Most modeling contracts include a termination clause that allows either the agency or the client (the child model and their parent) to end the relationship if things don’t work out. For example, if your child or the agency is not satisfied with the number of modeling jobs or the pay for those jobs, it could be a reason to terminate the agreement early.
Make sure the commission, which is the percentage of each job’s pay, is within the normal range. If your child does TV commercials, it is typical, often even required by union rules, to charge only a 10% commission. For other modeling jobs, such as the more common print or runway work, a commission may range from 15% to 20%. Commissions are negotiable, so be sure to not pay more than the industry standards.
The two most common patent options in a modeling contract are payment within a set period of time, 30 days, for example, or payment due when the agency gets paid by the client, which can take months. Just like commissions, this is a negotiable item, so be sure to insist on a payment schedule you can live with.
Being offered a legitimate modeling contract is a major step in the path to modeling success, but only if it is in the best interests of your child. Because so much could be at stake, you should not sign a modeling contract without legal or professional advice.