What is your exact job description?
Sports agent would be the most accurate description. FRIDAY Media & Management is a content studio and talent management agency, which I am doing with three partners, Emma Smith, Sandy Stevenson and Greg Martin.
How did you become a sports agent?
I worked in the surf industry for a long time before becoming an agent. I worked for Surf Europe, Reef and Billabong. At some point I was looking for something new and a good friend and pro surfer asked me for help when he lost his main sponsor. Instead of just trying to get him some contacts in the industry, we decided to do it the right way and I started representing him. At the time I was living in Hossegor and had met Greg Martin from FRIDAY who was producing TV content around surfing and snowboarding with Sandy and Emma. We thought there was a good synergy between a talent agency and a TV production company so we merged.
Why would a snowboarder need representation from a sports agent?
To keep it fairly simple: a professional athlete should concentrate on doing what he does best and that’s perform at the highest level in his individual sport. Contract negotiations can sometimes drag over months, sealing a deal with a new sponsor can take a year of persistence. And a lot of athletes simply don’t have the contacts, the vitamin C as they say, neither the knowledge of what you really need to look for in a contract. It’s also about career management, helping athletes in every aspect of life and in the end, creating a brand around the athlete.
What are the main perks and disadvantages of being a sports agent?
No disadvantages really, ha ha ha. Obviously you take on huge responsibility, as you are not just trying to sell a car, but an individual. And you sometimes have their careers in your hand so you better not fuck up… Ok, can be stressful at times!
What do you look for in a rider before signing them and what advice would you have for an up and coming rider who wants to make it as a pro?
I mentioned our production company so for us it is super important that we can actually do something with the athletes we work with. Projects like Jake Blauvelt Naturally for example. The athletes need to be marketable as this is what brands look for these days. It is not enough any more to just do good in your individual sport. You need to have the full package. Advice for up and comers: work hard, never give up and believe in yourselves, ha ha ha. If you get to a stage in your career where you become interesting to bigger brands and you don’t have a dad or friend who can help, it is definitely helpful to consult an agent. Our agency for example consults young athletes (around 15, 16 years old) who are at the beginning of their careers without charging any money. However, it is also very important to make sure that the contract they sign with a possible agent is fair.
Friday produced Jake Blauvelt Naturally. Naturally got a great response, how hands on were you with the day-to-day filming of the project?
We have a pretty good set up at FRIDAY. Greg is Jake’s agent and takes care of him 100% and he is at the same time the producer / director of Naturally. They spend a lot of time together so it makes sense. Our office then helps with all the back-end and once the movie was done the whole company worked on marketing the project. Distribution, marketing, organizing the premiere tour, etc.
Do you own a paintball gun like Ari Gold in Entourage? Have you ever been tempted to do the same?
Ha ha ha, no gun. The problem is that I don’t have Lloyd. So I go surf to let off steam.
If you could go back in time and sign any rider from the past, whom would you sign?
The funny thing is that a lot of the time we really try to sign someone and it doesn’t work out. But in the end it always turns out for the better 😉 But if I could have signed someone, it would have been Kelly Slater I guess. Would have been amazing to have gone through such an amazing career with him.
If a rider gets into trouble somewhere are their team manager or yourself the first call they make? Have you had any crazy situations you can mention?
Pretty much depends, but I had athletes call me in the middle of the night in Europe asking whether I could order them a cab in Bali… Pretty funny stuff happening at times.
In these economic difficult times, a lot of brands have cut back on their budgets. Is it now harder to be an agent than in the past?
Absolutely. Times are not exactly easy in the action sports industry. Fortunately, all our athletes we work with are in high demand so I guess you have to choose well when picking them. We have also worked hard to help all of them build their value to sponsors.
Friday also looks after surfers. Is there anything snowboarding can learn from the surfing industry?
I think it goes both ways. If you look at the top tier of surfers on the World Tour for example, there’s a lot of professionalism these days. If you want to make it to the top, you have to work really hard. It’s a lot of hard training, but also looking at nutrition, your diet, staying fit and healthy. Most snowboarders are not at that level. On the other hand most snowboarders are in my opinion a little better when it comes to marketing themselves (social media, content creation and distribution etc).