When am I Actually Going to Get My Money?!
People often assume models are loaded. Sadly for me, most of us aren’t.
Giselle, Miranda, Kate…if you’re on the ‘surname unnecessary’ list – as well as the Forbes 100 list – then yes, modelling has earnt you a pretty penny.
Miranda Kerr’s sizeable assets…I’m talking economics, you dirty so-and-so
But if you consider that there are tens of thousands of models out there, then it becomes clear that not everyone can be earning a million per shoot. A lot of ‘workaday’ models out there are earning, annually, in the twenties (or even less), many supplementing their income with other work such as bartending and retail. For a career with no long-term future, no pension, no sick-leave, that’s not really that great. It’s just something that’s worth knowing if you’re considering entering the industry for fame, fortune and instant cash – ‘cos while vast riches are possible…They’re also improbable.
I have so much to share with you – what areas of fashion pay the best, the worst, how to get more out of modelling, what to do if you get swizzled and how to manage your finances – but today I’m going to focus on how payments should actually work in the industry, because it was a source of much bafflement to me and my parents in the early days. It just felt very dishonest. It turned out that it wasn’t dishonest, but it was incredibly opaque and unreliable, from top to bottom.
So here’s a typical example of what a brand new face might experience, money-wise.
You’re a New Face, you’ve only been modelling a couple of months. You’re signed with an agency on the AMA, and you’ve done a job for a cool new label I will name ‘Cowabunga’ and the job paid £300.
The agency will take their fee of 25% from you, meaning that you’re going to get £225 after their commission.
HOWEVER! You have an account with the agency, and when you start your career they pay for lots of things. They pay for your portfolio, couriers sending books all over the place, they might pay to get your hair cut and maybe even buy you a couple of outfits for castings. That means that your account with them will be in the minus.
When you start modelling, it’s likely you won’t earn very much money as a lot of the work you do will be unpaid editorials (edgy mags) and test shoots (a shoot which is not for a client, but for the team to get photographs for their portfolio).
At one agency, I was a new face who was 2 grand in debt at one point. So, let’s say I was
When that £225 from Cowabunga comes in, it just means that money goes directly to the agency, and I am now £1775 in debt to the agency – and I have no money in my pocket with which to pay my rent, food, bills etc.
This took a lot of getting used to. There came a point where I was working more and doing lots of shoots, for hundreds of pounds, but I was getting no money at all! It felt wrong and illegal – but it’s the way it works. Once you’re working regularly, you’re earning and it should be fine. Some girls start working right away and don’t have significant debt. Some girls, I’m sad to say, never get out of this cycle of debt – see Jenna Sauer’s account of falling foul of this system:
However, today we’re gonna be optimistic, and you’re going to be one of the many models who earns properly and gets their account to zero with the agency.
So, you did the job on the 25th February. It’s now July, and you still haven’t got it!
The thing is, the client doesn’t have to pay right away. They can take around 3 months, and many choose to leave it ‘til the last minute to pay. at which point your agency will start chasing them. That can then mean waiting another couple of months until you get paid. Which isn’t very helpful when you have rent.
Clients are often frustratingly slow to pay.
The agencies vary in how they pay you. When I was at Select, I’d ring up on a Wednesday or a Friday and I’d receive a cheque for whatever was in my account the following day. Sometimes I got two or three cheques a month. My current agency, Bookings, pay me whatever’s in, via cheque, once a month. I was also at an agency that were not on the AMA (slaps wrist) and that took a lot more chasing to get my money. And when I was at Premier, where I started? I was so naïve and new, I was simply too scared and baffled by how it all worked to ask for my money. I think a lot of new faces are like that. (I did get my money when I left, thanks to my dad ringing up the accountant, which I was just too scared to do).
In my experience, you will get your money – just don’t hope for it any time soon. Most clients are as slow as they feel that they can get away with to pay, no matter how big or small they are. You might be earning 3 grand a month and get a cheque for £100 one month, because no one’s paid on time. You have to just accept that this is the way it is, I’m afraid, and if you’re the sort of person who needs a reliable, predictable amount of money, monthly, this may not be the job for you.
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