by Cris Cardona
The modeling business was in need of having an organization that sustained the necessary regulations, basic rules and advice to help the modeling industry work as it should. M.A.M.A, Managers And Models Association, was created to help those businesses and industry experts to set and follow basic ethical and professional standards.
Who better than Gal Golan, scout and personal manager of models and M.A.M.A’s founder, to help us understand the role of this association which has been working next to managers, agents and models since its founding 3 years ago.
If you are new in the industry or you are a professional who would like to get involved in this association, find out some tips, get some advice and deal with problems and issues you might find along the way, continue reading and make a difference!
Model Management: How and when did the idea of creating M.A.M.A develop?
Gal Golan: As a scout and model manager, my companies have faced many issues and problems. This included losing models to a local competitor that poached our models, gave them “stage names” and switched the models international placement agencies causing my company great damage. The greatest damage to my company was when “partner” agencies or “networks” took over the management of some of our models. No matter how you spin it, these agencies/ networks are enjoying the fruits of our finds, investments, development and labor and we are not.
I felt alone dealing with the problems, the financial losses, prestige and personal heartache. I thought these issues were exclusively mine but they are not. Speaking with fellow mother managers and scouts I realized that almost everyone in the model business has some kind of issue with a model agency or a competitor manager.
One of my greatest inspirations for building M.A.M.A. was Michele Miller, arguably one of the best scouts/managers in the model business. One thing you cannot argue about is the level of models Michelle has found & lost and will find again. Speaking with Michelle and “comparing notes” was a cathartic experience, our issues and problems had much in common and now I knew I was not alone. I reached out to other mother managers and agents and found that a great majority shared the same concerns. They have common issues and problems within the model business that need attention and resolution. The need for M.A.M.A. was evident in every call and conversation.
As a mother manager finding a model with good potential is a great feeling and at the start things work fine. You get emails or calls from your partner agencies saying “we would love to represent YOUR lovely model X…” But sadly from that point on, things can go wrong. We have a lot of work to do.
The model business is a high profile and prestigious industry and yet the only important industry that did not have a worldwide association to promote ethical and professional standards.
The model business is a three way partnership; managers/models/ agents and all need to be treated equally. We must define job descriptions, job roles and educate our models. We all have an important role in the promotion of the models career and each party deserves to be treated according to ethical and professional standards including financial and business transparency.
Losing models was the “trigger” to starting M.A.M.A., nonetheless if we want to make a real difference within our business community M.A.M.A. and its members must focus on wider issues that affect the modeling industry such as:
Model Contracts and Agreements between managers/models/agents
Model Welfare and Working Conditions
Transparency for Managers/ Models/ Agents Model Earnings and Expenses
Mother Agency and Model Agency Commissions and commission agreements
Dispute Resolution between Agencies and Models
By bringing top industry professionals together, M.A.M.A. and its members will work towards creating a community that will set new ethical and professional standards, thus ensuring a better business and working experience for models, managers and agencies.
MM: Why should Model Managers, Agents and Models join M.A.M.A?
GG: By uniting we are no longer alone when dealing with problems and issues. By joining M.A.M.A. we help meet all our business interests and needs. United by the core problems and issues affecting us all, together we can think globally and act locally.
M.A.M.A. promotes an equal partnership between models/managers/agents driven by ethical and professional standards, minimizing many of the damaging issues and problems affecting our local businesses. This way our member community can focus on their primary role of finding, developing and promoting models services. By Joining M.A.M.A. you can make a difference.
MM: What is the strategy and mission of M.A.M.A.?
Stage 1 Developing M.A.M.A. “Managers Agents Models Association”
We initially started by uniting the managers aka “mother agents“, and the models they represent. The managers have a vital role in the model business as they are the ones in the field that actually find the vast majority of models. The managers are the model business supply line. Yet these “suppliers” are suffering great business losses by the lack of ethical and professional standards within the model business.
Our mission is to promote the understanding that the core of the modeling business is a partnership between MANAGERS – MODELS – AGENTS; the Managers (“suppliers”), the Models they sign on for world -wide management representation and the partner retail Agencies/Agents who promote and sell the model services in the agreed territory.
Managers and Agents must work closely together in order to better serve the Models. There is a growing expectation amongst members of the model business fashion and advertising industries, law makers and the media that the modeling industry should come into line with business practices experienced in similar industries. M.A.M.A. believes in self -regulation and wishes our industry to be ahead of this expectation.
Based on a clear need for understanding between all parties, M.A.M.A. is researching the main issues being faced by managers, models and partner agencies/agents.
M.A.M.A. will prioritize the main issues identified and with the help of members of the modeling business community and experts, we will seek to resolve these matters.
Stage 2 Setting Standards
M.A.M.A. wishes to listen to agencies/ agents concerns with regards to dealing with managers and the models they represent. M.A.M.A. will then communicate with our partner retail agencies/ agents the issues identified by our research and will jointly seek a way forward to resolution.
By setting new industry standards we can minimize some of the issues affecting us all and thus make a real change for the benefit of everyone.
We aim for a fair and balanced partnership. We need each other. Managers earn a commission for services of model placement provided to its partner agencies and agencies/ agents earn commission from the promotion and sales of model services supplied by the manager. Models earn and benefit by having both managers and agents focused on their complementary roles, working closely together to promote and develop the models career.
MM: How do you guide managers/agents to strengthen their ethical business?
GG: First and foremost by individually joining and accepting M.A.M.A.’s code of practice managers and agents understand and accept the core need for ethical and professional standards within the model business. That is a good start. From that point on it is all about us “together”, being a part of a community that competes, yet works closely and communicates to develop better business standards that benefits the model business as a whole and each of our businesses individually. Setting up local work groups or local associations in each country to deal with local and worldwide issues together we can resolve and make a difference that will benefit models/managers/agents equally while preserving and strengthening model business competitiveness.
MM: How do you guide models to strengthen their ethical business?
GG: Education! Managers and Agents must better educate the models about all aspects of the model business as a part of the model development by the mother manager and before the models start to travel. Many models are educated “in the field” learning the model business from roommates based on their limited experiences and “rumors”. The lack of model education/ information is damaging our business efforts. By treating the models as equal partners within the three way partnership managers/models/agents better informing, educating and guiding our models we can achieve a much more ethical and professional business environment.
MM: Being a leading association within the modeling business you must be dealing with top Managers to protect them and their models. Could you give us 3 tips to succeed as a Manager in the modeling world?
1. Develop and work closely with your models, educate and guide the models on all the important aspects of the model business and stay alert to your models welfare, health and care.
2. Keep constant and active contact with your models. If the model is a minor stay actively in contact with the models family by emails phone , Facebook, Skype, especially when the models are traveling to other cities or countries.
3. Stay in the loop, inform and be informed by your partner agencies worldwide representing/ promoting your models and help coordinate international requests and bookings. Inform, compare notes and be transparent with your models. Be on top of model movement and travel coordination. Although much of the managers work is “in the shadows” behind the scenes models will appreciate your services more if they know you are in the loop know and see your involvement.
MM: What criteria do you follow when selecting model managers for your association?
GG: M.A.M.A. welcomes applications from any manager, agency/ agent or expert that shares its visions and values to promote an ethical, professional and competitive modeling business. These require, in part, that the applicant
Is legally registered in the chamber of commerce or other legally required authorities.
Has been working for at least two years. Managers should have placed models with reputable international agencies and or the expert is a reputable member of the model business.
Does not impose upon the models any action or activity which is either dangerous or demeaning.
Has understood and accepted the M.A.M.A. code of practice
Applications will be subject to detailed scrutiny by the M.A.M.A. council.
M.A.M.A.’s board of directors/ Advisers and council has the right to refuse membership to anyone, as well as revoke current membership status based on members vote.
MM: To what you attribute your success as a nonprofit association as M.A.M.A?
GG: The sweeping support we are getting from the model business community. Members are uniting together to make a difference. M.A.M.A. is run and managed by partners, competitors and experts each helping out with what they can. Some with legal advice, others with accounting consultation, some with model welfare or social networking, others by simply accepting and sharing the ethical and professional visions and values of M.A.M.A. Together we have greater resources and tools to deal with the problems and issues within the model business.
MM: How do you see the future of the modeling management business?
GG: Even Nostradamus would not attempt this one… The “color” of the model business is the internal scandals and clash of egos within our business community that is hard to predict but will not change. The “musical chairs” of managers and agents as well as the rise and falls of management companies and agencies are not foreseeable. Nonetheless we can point to the fast growth in the number of mother managers/ scouting companies/ individual scouts “suppliers” worldwide, while the numbers of successful retail agencies that promote and sell models will remain about the same.
Arguably many feel that at the moment the big agencies and networks take on more models then they can possibly manage and thus many models “fall between the stools”. Competition is great for our business however due to the lack of standards many businesses and models are struggling. By setting ethical and professional standards we believe that agencies can better compete, new agencies can be formed, smaller agencies can grow with a better quality model rosters, and the placements of models can be more evenly distributed with quality professional management and agents for the benefit of the model business as a whole.
Let us compete and may the best manager/model/agent team win.
MM: In your opinion, how important is the internet for the model management businesses?
GG: Very important!, On many levels; image, promotion (agency/manager/model), brand development, scouting social networking and communication.
The model business is all about the “now”. Scouts need to find yesterday, the girl of today, and todays managers/agents must package and promote “the model/face of the moment”
The Internet speeds everything up for the model business and possibly is one of the contributors to the fact that models now have much shorter careers then they used to, as the new model of the moment is just a quick “click” away.
I’m sure not many miss the days of copy machines, post office/ FedEx packaging to propose models. Management was slower back in those day’s. Clients preferred to continue to work with models they knew and trusted the relationship with the agents/ bookers. As a result models careers were much longer than they are today.
Many scouts/managers/agencies use the internet as a scouting tool to find new talents. The internet certainly gives aspiring models worldwide and especially in remote parts of the world a chance to be introduced to the major management companies, agencies and clients.
A growing trend is online management companies that are “virtual” management companies that search/find models online, guide the models virtually, communicate via email, skype or faceboook and do worldwide placements with partner agencies, often never having met the model in person.
We are aware of various companies that are developing online model booking portals that will directly connect clients to managers/ models. These companies believe that for starters some clients would prefer to book online based on a similar business model of the classic travel agency versus online booking portals such as Expedia or Booking.com.
Potential and working models may have greater yet justified concerns regarding online proposals and just as it is recommended to carefully check the proper “classic” model managers and agents, we recommend models carefully check any proposal or offer made by any online scout, manager, agent or model business expert..
One of the most positive contributions of technology / internet are the various booking software packages on the market. These booking/imaging/packaging software are assisting our industry in being more professional and organized. Model proposals and packaging are neat and easy to review for a quick client response. We believe that in the near future software will help our industry become much more transparent allowing models/managers/agents immediate access to booking information or any important information regarding a job or a booking that has been negotiated by managers/agents on behalf of the models.
MM: How does social media influence the modeling industry in terms of security and ethical standards?
GG: The general media and social media in particular have a great influence on the model business in exposing security and ethical problems. Online media, Facebook, blogs, and forums open up discussions, raise questions and develop calls for action. In recent years we have witnessed more and more model business headlines including Size “0” models, models health and model age limitations in fashion shows or for work in certain markets.
Within our members community M.A.M.A. has social media experts that will help us use the social media to inform and educate potential models and families about the model business. M.A.M.A. will be accessible to assist in guidance and help answer questions of potential, developing and working models via the models hotline and other programs we are currently developing via the social network platforms.
M.A.M.A. promotes our visions and values via the social networks, and would like to thank the many blogs, modeling portals and websites that are supporting and assisting us on our mission.
Want to contact M.A.M.A, get some adivce from the association or want to share some information with them?
Visit their website: www.m-a-m-a.org
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