Last Friday, the University of Michigan held the 3rd Annual Michigan Sport Business Conference, with the theme being ‘Game Changers.’ One of the breakout session panels, Sports Representation: Athletes, On-Air Talent and More, included some of the top athlete and broadcasting agents in the industry:
1) Evan Levine, Vice President of Business Development/Partnership, Roc Nation
2) Maury Gostfrand, Broadcasting Agent, Founder, Vision Sports Group
3) Sandy Montag, Vice President, IMG
4) David Oxfeld, Vice President of Client Sales/Business Development, Excel Sports
Below are some takeaways from the session…
1) Each of the four panelists echoed each other, saying how in the agency business, there’s no real blueprint for athlete/client representation. Additionally, they all mentioned that no two days are similar in any given work week.
2) Sandy Montag — who oversees 75 clients at IMG — said that when his agency obtains a new client, 10 executives sit down with the client over the course of a six-week period and conduct interviews with him/her. The goal of the interviews is to understand more about the client, jot down different words/phrases on a white board which describe them and gain a greater insight into the client’s life. With that knowledge, the agency can better represent the client, especially when looking for off-the-field or off-the-court marketing and endorsement opportunities.
3) Montag also advised that it’s always best to sign clients who are realistic in their career expectations. Having a mutual set of beliefs and expectations is key for having a sound relationship.
4) David Oxfeld iterated how in 2014, there are now different expectations from clients, which span from social media and marketing to public relations, charitable organizations and post-career plans. No longer are agents just expected to negotiate a client’s contract.
5) Oxfeld mentioned Derek Jeter’s new publishing platform, The Players’ Tribune and the value in athletes having a voice beyond their playing career. He said that in the future, the platform may look to form relationships with other digital partners/brands.
6) Maury Gostfrand discussed how honesty is the best approach with clients. He’ll receive referrals from current clients about a broadcasting friend in the industry looking for representation. Sometimes, Gostfrand says, ‘No’ when he’s calculating whether or not to sign someone as a client, even if they come highly referred. He also said that if you’re a former NFL player looking at broadcasting following your career, that there is no excuse for not getting into the business.
7) Like Montag, Evan Levine said how important it is for agents/agencies to know details of the clients it has in order to tell authentic stories for both the client and the brand.
8) Finally, each panelist gave internship/job advice for all of the attendees. Most mentioned how experience and internships are the name of the game early on in your career as you work to build your resume, hone your skills and establish your network of contacts. In addition, Montag — in particular — mentioned how the industry is a lot smaller than one may think, so it’s important to meet other influential people in the business and form relationships today. Furthermore, all of the panelists stressed persistence in obtaining that first job or first internship.