Winning in Hollywood

Talent manager and film producer Bruce Edwin offers free, ongoing advice for actors, models, and bands on how to do the right things in Hollywood. These secrets are rarely taught in school. Find out what industry professionals aren’t telling you.

Answer Your Phone: Don’t tell casting, an agency, or manager how busy you are, that you can’t answer your phone readily, and that it would be easier for you to call them. Trust me, models and talent are usually not more busy than an agent, manager, or casting, unless you are a star or making six figures annually, and even then you still might not be. And no one really cares if you have a busy life any way. What they care about is if you answer your darn phone and can be communicated with on their schedule and their terms. Remember, they do not need you, you need them.


Don’t Blame Any One for a Dead Phone: If you are fortunate enough to be on the phone with an agent, manager, producer, director, publisher, or the like, and the line drops, and you get them back on the phone, don’t insist that it was their phone. One actor recently did that to me, when they were on a cell, and I was on a land line. Which phone had greater odds of dropping a signal, theirs or mine? Yet this person defensively argued it could not have been their phone. Bad move. Even if it’s not your phone, take the blame any way. Agents and managers are the ones getting you work if you are talented – but not if you irritate them so much with arrogance that you can’t even take the blame for something as simple as a dropped call.

You should extend that attitude to all other aspects in the industry as well. Don’t be masochistic, or a pushover, but if you can let your agent, manager, or producer save face, without hurting yourself, do it. Remember, you want to be on their good side and get work. You can satiate your ego some other way after you leave their office or hang up the phone.

The Music Industry

Buzzwords: If you don’t know how to talk as a music insider, then you will stay on the outside. Just as there is insider language in the model and talent industry, so too is there in the music biz. Here are just a small number of words needed to know if you are to be a pro in the music world.

Split Sheet: A split sheet is a breakdown of the songs authors, the percent of ownership for each writer, the name of the publisher and percent of ownership for each publisher, and the year and month the work was finished being created. Split sheets are essential to protect artist rights, and when getting a talent manager who assists getting you a record deal.

A&R: Artist and Repertoire, this is generally the development person at records labels whose finds, with the assistance of their talent scout, develops and handles talent.

Publicist: Can be in house or independent. The Publicist is the person working for the band or label, on behalf of the band, to get the artist interviews, reviews, previews, and press and media coverage in all formats including terrestrial radio, digital, satellite, web, blog, TV, film placement, talk show circuit, daily print, weekly, monthly, regional, national, international, in store appearances, and more.

Tour Publicist: handles publicity only for the specific tour for a band or bands.

In House PR: Publicist at the record label.

Rider: An added part of a contract that is particular to the performers and their demands.

Backline: the necessary gear for a gig that’s onstage including drum kit, mics, mic stands, amps, etc. Most venues have a backline, but never assume, always ask and get detail, and what will be available to you.

Phoner: A phone interview between media and artist.

Tour Support: Can refer to an opener (opening act that plays first), backline, tour bus, merchandise, and the like, or all of the above. Major labels often provide tour support to their artists.

Pay to Play: When the venue charges the artist up-front money to play there, or when they put in the contract that a certain number of tickets must be sold, or the booker will owe the house money. Pay to play deals are notorious in L.A, which the industry had a big reaction against in the 90’s, but now is more common nation-wide, to prevent the house or promoter from losing money.

The House: The music venue.

In House: Can refer to in the music venue, in the record label, or self contained within a unit.

Promoter: Can be the booker, or merely one doing promotion. The promoter can be independent, or work in house for the venue or label.

Booker: music booker, the one that is the broker between the buyer (house or promoter) and seller (band, agent, manager, or label).

BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated): U.K. based musicians organization that must be utilized (or ASCAP) by any artist to register their songs before making public or shopping.

ASCAP (American Society of Composers Authors & Publishers) U.S. based musicians organization that must be utilized (or BMI) by any artist to register their songs before making them public or shopping.

Shopping: the action of an artist looking for a record deal or representational deal.

Opener: The artist that plays first on a bill. Often there is a first, second, or even third opener, with the last opener being the one that plays just before the headliner is up.

Headliner: The main billing of a show, usually, and hopefully- but not always – the most popular act of the bill.

The Bill: The talent line up for a particular gig.

P.D.’s: Per Diem, or Per Day. The amount of money paid to a band each day by management or the label when they are gigging, which usually covers just food and drink money for smaller bands, and for larger acts can be much more.

The Gig: The show, the performance.

Sound Check: the time before an artist performs when they run through a portion or all of the set at the house with the sound tech. Most major acts have their option for a sound check that goes as long as they want, up to the duration of the full set, although some may not opt for that long. Less established artists will only get a sound check for a few songs, or may opt for the first part of a few songs. If a band is treated poorly, or things are backed up, an artist may get no sound check. More established artists have in their contracts or riders that they must have a sound check.

EPK: Electronic Press Kit. As distinguished from a hard copy press kit. These consist of numerous things including the artists photo, bio, press clippings, and of course, music.

I hope this has helped many of you. I will continue more in the next issue about music terms, and also cover one of the biggest deal killers of all, and how to avoid it. Be sure to check out back issues of this series of articles found in the ‘archives’ section by searching “How to Succeed In Hollywood” in The Hollywood Sentinel. As always, if you have questions or want further free advice, you can call my office. Tel: 310-226-7176