When you examine any one of the big four the thing that stands out the most is literally their size. They’re actually really “big,” CAA, for instance, has 10 offices, spanning the globe from Los Angeles to Beijing. William Morris has 5 offices and employs well over a hundred agents. With their enormous size and far-reaching influence, they have become powerful symbols in more than just the entertainment industry.
While most people correlate the term “talent agency” to dealing strictly with actors and models, which may be true for most talent agencies, the big four have become major players in several other industries. Corporate Consulting, for instance, has become a major revenue stream for the big four, as has branding and licensing. Several athletes have also now signed on with the big four to help increase their endorsement exposure. (E.g. WME represents world-class athletes such as Alex Rodriguez, Serena Williams, and Magic Johnson).
Another mechanism that separates the big four from the rest is their client demographics. If you were to walk through the front doors of ICM you may see the likes of Al Pacino, Samuel L. Jackson, Eminem, Beyoncé, and many other world-class stars. The world’s biggest stars are represented by the world’s biggest agencies, and the big four have truly established themselves as representation to the stars.
The success of CAA, UTA, WME, and ICM didn’t happen overnight though; years of hard work, mergers, and great individuals (Ari Emanuel – character Ari Gold from entourage is based on) has been the recipe behind their success.
With all of that said though, it’s important to point out that while representation by one of the big four could be very helpful in progressing a young talent’s career there are other avenues for reaching success. There are literally hundreds of other good and capable agencies out there, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get signed by one of the big four right away, just like anything else, it takes time to climb to the top.
A great tool for comparing the big four is FindTheBest’s Talent Agencies Comparison. FTB’s tool allows you to compare the big four in a side-by-side view.