There’s much to be said for the rise of “The Freelancer” in today’s digital economy. Constant developments in technology are providing independents direct access and avenues to work with businesses on their own that didn’t exist even just five years ago. More options for remote work and flexible hours are increasingly being valued by workers over the traditional steady nine to five office job. Technology is also continuing to increase efficiencies in transactions among business parties, proceeding to cut out the proverbial ‘middleman’ in order to save on costs and streamline overall efficiencies within a plethora of industries. However, working with businesses directly can be risky for the individual sole proprietor. While the perks are tempting, there are certainly drawbacks to consider, particularly in industries where the independent contractor may typically lack the proper business education and support system necessary to make sound decisions and avoid being taken advantage of. One area where this phenomenon is especially proliferant is the fashion and entertainment industry. While platforms like UpWork and Fiverr exist for freelance designers, writers, programmers, and content producers, those in the fashion and entertainment industry are still left wanting.
Models, actors, musicians, photographers, makeup and hair artists, stylists, film and video editors, audio experts, and DJs have historically been subject to consistent disadvantage in the business world, mostly because they typically have needed to align with an agency or manager in order to maintain regular work. Often times, the artist’s career outcome would heavily depend on whether or not that relationship was a positive and successful one. Talent working freelance often lacked the tools to network and make connections to further their career, and would also be constantly victimized by people looking to take advantage, often working for lower rates and at lower standards because they felt the need to “take what they can get.”
Now, in the age of social media, technology has given independent artists the ability to obtain massive visibility and reach on their own, yet still does not offer them any protection from scams nor does it provide them with any kind of guaranteed standards, rights, or payment structure. Further, while giants such as Instagram and Youtube are useful networking tools for these artists, when it comes to actually booking and executing paid work (facilitating a freelance job from start to finish, including payment), the artist is left completely on their own to negotiate the terms. Similarly, instant payment apps like Venmo and Cashapp have no doubt benefited the freelancer’s world, but the technology fails these artists in the most important part of the payment process: getting the clients to actually send the money!
So where does that leave our beloved freelance artists? All this technology exists, yet they are still constantly left in the lurch. In an age where we can clone pigs and send men to Mars, there certainly must be a technological solution. Platforms like AGENT are leading the way in the right direction, providing not only job opportunities and booking facilitation, but also safety, transparency, and payment guarantees for all talent who book work through the platform. Finally, there is a starting point from where all artists in the field can expect higher standards across the board.