At its meeting of December 15th, 2004 AGMA’s Board of Governors adopted a Code of Professional Standards for agents and managers representing its members. Responding to complaints about inappropriate and unethical conduct, the Board enacted the Code as a guide for the membership in negotiating agreements with their agents and managers. The Code seeks to prohibit specific aspects of conduct that is not acceptable.
Although acceptance of this Code by agents is voluntary, Alan Gordon, AGMA’s Executive Director, said: “We think that this can help our members by identifying things that our members should know is wrongful conduct. Although many agents are entirely ethical and really devote themselves to the interests of the artists they represent, the practice of inappropriately charging monthly retainer fees, charging monthly fees for expenses without accounting for those expenses and charging commissions on benefits and payments that were negotiated by the union and not by the agent is widespread.” Gordon also noted, that New York law (General Business Law, Chapter 20, Article 11, Sections 171-174) requires that an agent be licensed and prohibits unlicensed agents from suing to collect commissions and that a key court decision interpreting that law held (Friedkin v. Harry Walker, Inc. 90 Misc.2d 680 at 683 (N.Y. City Civ. Ct. 1977) that would-be agents can not avoid the licensing requirement by simply calling themselves ‘managers’. “The test,” Gordon said “is whether the manager secures work or bookings for the performer. If he or she does, the laws says they’re an agent and they have to be licensed. If they’re not, they can’t sue to collect commissions allegedly due to them.”
Key provisions of the Code were reviewed by both the Membership & Member Relations Committee and by the Committee on Administration and Policy before being adopted by the Board. Mr. Gordon expressed his gratitude to solo artists Paul McIlvaine and Gregory Stapp for their contribution to the Code.
You can view the full Code of Standards here.