Landing a great agency should be all models’ first priority for this is likely (unless they are freelance models) how they are going to book jobs. Big agencies typically have many models and many clients looking for models, but this means models will be working against some of the best. Smaller agencies have slightly fewer models and slightly fewer clients, but may work harder for their models. This begs the question, when it comes to landing an agency, is being a small fish in a big pond the way to go, or is it better to be a big fish in a small pond?
Often times when it comes to bigger agencies, models get lost in the vastness. Large agencies push (when an agency pushes a model they are trying hard to get that model the job) numerous models for jobs, so sometimes it can be hard to get noticed. Slightly smaller agencies tend to have fewer models, but tend to work harder for them. So it comes down to whether or not you have what it takes to fit into a vast group of top-notch models. If yes, then go with the big agency, if not, go with the slightly smaller agency where you may be considered one of the better models and probably land more work.
Also, big agencies will have better models. So not only do you have to compete with a lot of models, you have to compete with really good models. If you do not consider yourself a top-notch model yet, go with a smaller, yet established, agency that will treat you well and help develop you into the elite model you can be.
Big agencies might have big fees. The bigger they are, the more they may charge for comp cards, portfolios, photographers, website fees, etc.
I have always found that being one of the better models in a slightly smaller agency worked better for me than being an average model in a big-time agency. I enjoyed being thought of as one of the top guys and getting pushed for jobs harder. Being average in a big time agency was…. well average. Unless you have modeled for a while and have a stunning portfolio, consider a smaller agency that loves you and wants to find you work.
Smaller agencies typically treat their models well. They need their models, especially the ones that make them money. Big agencies make it seem like it’s all about the money. I have had some great relationships develop from some of the smaller agencies I have signed with.
Of course, this is all up to each individual model and what route they want to take. Big time agencies have lots of good models and lots of clients. This works because generally there is enough work to go around. Smaller agencies typically do not have the reach or connections that the large agencies do, but they make up for it in hard work for their models. They just seem to treat their models better. If you aren’t sure, try different agencies. If an agency isn’t giving you what you want, perhaps it is time to try a new one. Remember, agencies work for you and unless you signed a contract, you can walk away at any time.