How much money do models really earn?
The rates are highest
in New York City where it's not unusual for a model to make 5 or
6 thousand a day. (That's for 8 hours). In most other markets around
the United States such as LA, Chicago, or Miami, the day rates are
more like 1500 to 2000 a day. Although even in these markets if
a client is very interested in a model they will pay the higher
In most markets the hourly rate is 150 dollars, usually with some
minimum amount of hours, such as a 3 or 4 hour minimum. These rates
are for what is called "print modeling", this includes;
magazine ads, catalogs, and/or brochures.
Rates for other types of modeling vary considerably. Use the following
as a general guideline:
Promotional - the kind used for trade shows and
product demonstration, generally earn about 300 dollars a day.
Runway – 200 for 1.5 hours
Kids – Around $100 an hour for print modeling
Acting – This category is divided between
union and non-union.
Union jobs are governed under contract minimums
and involve what is called “residuals”. These are payments
that keep coming in during most of the life of the airing of a production.
To give you some idea of what actors make, currently if a union
actor gets a one day booking on an “episodic” such as
ER or CSI they make about $700 each time they appear in an episode
shot on their booking day.
Non-union jobs are basically a free for all –
anything goes. These types of jobs are basically the training ground
for people to move up to union jobs. There is certainly nothing
wrong with doing non-union jobs. Many people specifically do not
become union members because then they are not allowed to do non-union
Agency Fees And now a word (or two) about agency fees. The way agencies make money, and this goes for all legitimate agencies around the world, is that they charge the model a fee, normally around 20%, and, the client, normally around 20%.
An example would be a client books a model for $1000 a day. The model goes and works for the 8 hours. The agency then adds 20% to the $1000 and bills the client for $1200. The client pays and then the agency pays the model $1000 minus 20% or $800. So here’s a question: if the agency charges the model 20% and the client 20% what percent does the agency earn on a booking? – 40%? – wrong. The entire invoice was $1200 remember? And the agency earns $400, ($200 from the model and client each). So if you divide $400 by $1200 you get 33%, that’s how much an agency earns on a normal booking.
There are also no guarantees, in many cases an agency will work days, or even weeks, with a client on a booking only to have the client cancel it at the last minute, meaning the agency worked all those days or weeks for 33% of 0. That means zero or nothing for the arithmetically challenged.