Updated: Feb 1
To untrained ears "Casting Agency" sounds the same as "Model Agency."
That simply is not the case.
Whether you are looking for work or an agency to bring you talent it is imperative you know what type of agency makes the most sense for your needs.
To put it very simply (you could stop reading here - but you'll want to read to the end to know which makes sense for you) a Modeling Agency only has a handful of models they are committed to getting work while a Casting Agency can pull talent from a large database (or anywhere really.)
Casting Agencies don't have sign on contracts.
A casting agency is a pool of talent you can join without bothering to read the fine print about never working with anyone else. Casting Directors or Casting Agencies do not become 'your agent.'
Modeling Agencies sign a pretty extensive (in some cases) contract you can be trapped in for years. If they don't get you work - oh well.
Casting Agencies don't charge commission.
The freeing thing about casting agencies is that you do not owe them part of the rate your agreed to work for. The Casting Agency generates revenue alternative ways while you get to keep your pretty pennies.
Modeling Agencies generally charge 20% to their client along with the 20% cut you are required to give. $400 of $500 is still $400 - don't get me wrong. With a booked and busy Modeling Agency 20% deductions is well worth being part of their team.
Casting Agencies let you control your career.
Casting Agencies are popular among freelance models and actors to assist in booking local gigs. The model/talent is generally responsible for keeping their photos, booking preferences, and information up to date.
Casting Agencies partner with Modeling/Talent agencies.
Casting Agencies bring the unrestrictive talent pool to Model Agency clients, while Model/Talent Agencies provide developed and professional faces for Casting Agencies to add to their database (this only occurs in partnership created by the company).
Social profiles and websites differ.
Casting Agencies do not generally have any direct lines of contact for any of their models or talent displayed. The booking process is done strictly through them due to there not being a heavy exclusive contract between the model/talent and the agency.
Modeling/Talent Agencies display contact info of their faces since there are strict contracts in place that any work (unless designated to certain areas) must be booked through the agency.
Casting Agencies are more affordable.
Casting Directors and Casting Agencies all have different price points to apply or be in their database while others have no fee. Generally speaking, the larger the market the larger the fee. Fees can be paid monthly, one time, or annually. Some you may join for free with the option to upgrade if you would like full access to services.
Casting Agencies allow you to grow your career outside of them.
Casting Agencies do not provide you with an agent or 1 on 1 consultation to develop you as a model/talent. They may offer affordable workshops and photos/videos that come with a fee, but you would not have someone you can call up for personal advice on your journey. They are simply the middleman between booking opportunities and you. Modeling/Talent agencies (at least good ones) provide guidance and development as part of you being on their team.
Should you join a Casting Agency?
As long as you are not in an exclusive contract with another agency - absolutely. With affordable fees, local work, and resources to keep your portfolio up to date, why wouldn't you?