Modeling Contracts (Know This Before You Sign)

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Modeling Contracts

What to Know Before Signing a Modeling Contract

You probably understand the importance of reading every part of a contract before you sign one, but unfortunately, a lot of people fail to fully understand what it is they are signing before they do so.

If you’re a new model and in the process of signing a contract for the first time, this is an incredibly exciting time for you and you’ll be eager to sign a modeling contract to get started right away! Before you sign, however, you need to make sure you understand exactly what you agree to, or you risk putting yourself in a position that could affect your modeling career in the long term or agree to terms that aren’t in your best interest.

To make sure that never happens to you, ensure you have an agent you trust, like the ones from ModelScouts.com, who can review a contract for you. Or, you can hire a lawyer to review a contract if that is an option for you.  To help you begin to understand modeling contracts, let’s cover some of the basics.

Modeling Contracts

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What Should a Modeling Contract Include?

Most modeling contracts are somewhat similar, but most reputable modeling agencies are careful to keep the fine details of their contracts confidential. A modeling contract will include things like: how the model’s earnings will be divided between the model and the agency; the contract length (most are between 1-3 years and automatically renew unless either party serves 30 to 60 days notice to terminate); whether the contract gives the agency worldwide exclusivity or whether the model can be represented by other agencies at the same time; and how the model must behave and maintain their stats (measurements) for the contract to be upheld. In addition, the contract will speak to things such as taxes, and other expenses that are the responsibility of the model. If your contract does not include any of this information, you need to inquire as to why and get answers before you agree to anything.

What are the Different Types of Modeling Contracts?

As mentioned, modeling contracts will include information about the particular type of contract you’re agreeing to. It’s essential to understand exactly what kind of contract it is because they have some important differences of which you need to be aware.

One-Time Contracts:

These contracts apply to a single job and only span the length of the contract. The contract should clearly outline how much you will earn for the booking, how the photos will be used, and if the contract limits you to working on similar projects before its completion.

Mother Agency Contract:

A modeling mother agency is usually the first agency with which you begin your career. Mother agencies will help you get acquainted and comfortable with the modeling industry, and may promote you to other agencies in the international market. Should your mother agency sign you to an international agency an agreement will be made between the agencies with respect to how the mother agency will earn a portion of the commission that the international agency deducts from your earnings. This commission will not increase the amount of commission you pay to the international agency, therefore you are essentially getting two or more agencies for the price of one. It’s a win, win for you and having a good mother agency protecting you is a good thing.

There are some instances where a mother agency will charge the model a 5-10% commission rate over and above what the international agency deducts. Be sure you understand what type of commission structure you are agreeing to before signing a contract.

Exclusive Contract:

Exclusive modeling contracts are most common for fashion and editorial models. Editorial models are generally not permitted to be represented by more than one agency in a specific market. In other words, you cannot have more than one agency in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Milan, or London. However, you can have one agency in every market.

Non-Exclusive Contract:

Non-exclusive contracts are common with commercial models and give models much more leeway with their careers. These agreements allow the model to work with as many other agencies as they would like in a specific market. Because of the increased flexibility of the model, you may not receive as much hands-on guidance, but there certainly are significant benefits to this type of contract as well. Namely, if you find work on your own you do not owe the agency you have a non-exclusive contract with any money, and if they find it for you, they earn a commission.


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