Business Overview

Production companies regularly have specific talent needs for the productions they’re working on. Casting agencies help production companies find the talent they need. Most agencies specialize in a specific niche, such as theater performers, commercial actors, films and television show actors, or extras.

As video-based mediums continue to grow, there is a lot of opportunity for casting agencies. According to IBISWorld, agencies’ aggregate revenue in the United States is $875 million annually and growing at 4.3 percent.

Who is this business right for?

Casting agencies are good businesses for people who have a passion for entertainment and previous experience in the industry. A love for the work will help business owners stay motivated when working long hours, and previous industry experience helps business owners network (see below).

Business owners should be prepared to work nights and weekends, as production companies rarely operate on a standard 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. schedule. Most people who have experience in video or theater are already familiar with the hours that the industry requires.

What happens during a typical day at a casting agency business?

A typical day at a casting agency business involves a lot of emails, messages, phone calls and in-person meetings. Business owners are in near-constant communication:

  • Finding and auditioning prospective actors who want to join the agency’s list of talent
  • Checking what production companies’ current talent needs are
  • Recommending talent for production companies
  • Arranging auditions between production companies and talent
  • Negotiating contracts with production companies

What is the target market?

While casting agency businesses must advertise to actors in order to build their talent list, their target market is ultimately production companies. It’s companies that pay casting agencies.

How does a casting agency business make money?

Casting agency businesses earn commissions on the contracts that they secure for talent. This is usually expressed as a percentage of the contract, but sometimes an agency may assess a flat fee on top of a contract.

Kerry O’Donnell reports that some casting agencies also charge talent registration or “digital processing” fees.

What is the growth potential for a casting agency business?

Generally speaking, casting agencies may be “boutique” operations that carry a select list of talent or large corporations that represent lots of actors. Agencies that specialize in extras tend to be larger, because extras’ contracts pay less than those of other actors.

One successful boutique agency is Actors Casting Agency, which represents 92 men and women. Central Casting (which focuses on extras) is a larger agency with offices in four cities.