I’m thinking of going into the sports and entertainment industry with a friend of mine from law school. We have several contacts in both industries and several prospective clients including an MLB baseball player, an NFL football player, current and former Division 1 NCAA athletes, as well as aspiring actors, models, movie producers, etc. The problem is that I don’t know exactly what these people do aside from contract negotiations and helping clients maximize their marketability and professional potential. I also don’t know how to get clients outside of the friends I already have in the industry. With all of the NCAA, MLB, NFL, etc. by-laws and regulations governing agents and when, how, and for what reasons they can approach talent, I don’t want to just start going after clients and possibly breaking the rules and stepping on people’s toes.
For example, one of my good friends is an NFL player whose agent is Drew Rosenhaus…who is THE top agent in the NFL. I’d love to get my friend’s business (and I’m sure he’ll give it to me), but do I really want to go barking up the wrong tree? I’ve also heard that the NFL does not allow agents to approach players who already have representation…so how do you get clients without pissing off the leagues?
Let me know what your take is on this industry and if you know anyone who has been successful in trying to start their own sports representation business. I really think the contacts I have now are a great start. I just need to know the right way to build upon them and start building a profitable book of business.
Do you really think your buddy will just dump Drew Rosenhaus because you’ve decided to get into the representation business? Come on, baby, wake up. You’re playing with the varsity here. These guys—these agents—are sharks. More importantly, you don’t even know what agents do! You said so yourself. So how the hell do you expect to compete with Drew Rosenhaus? The better question, I suppose is, why would a professional athlete sign with YOU? Do you REALLY think your buddy, Mister NFL, would leave the top dog in the sports representation business for a clueless law school puppy like you? If Mister NFL even suggested making a change, Rosenhaus would talk him out of it in less than five seconds.
“Wait, let me get this straight, Mister NFL. You’re leaving me for some guy with no experience? With no marketing contacts? With no clients? With no negotiating leverage? This is a business. It’s about money. Cash. Career longevity. Building a brand. Not friendship. Got it?”
Five seconds later, Mister NFL will call you up and say, “I’m staying put for now. Sorry, dawg. It’s just business.”
The good news here is: You have connections. And you know what you want to do. Which is a head start. A big head start. But like I suggested earlier, athlete representation is a notoriously vicious and tricky business. So here’s my advice: Try to get a job working for an established agent—like Drew Rosenhaus—or a prominent agency like IMG. Your contacts and law degree should help you get you in the door. But the bottom line here, buddy, is: You’re not ready to play with the big boys just yet. No matter how smart, aggressive or wired up you think you may be. Get some experience, learn the game, the game within the game, and then go out on your own. Remember, an agent without deal making experience or influential upper management contacts isn’t really an agent. He’s an unemployed fool.
Also see: I Want to be a Hollywood Agent
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