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Modeling Fees

What Do Urban Models Really Get Paid?

Tonight I got a really good question from “clacey9” who writes: “Hi, I was recently reading Buffie the Body's autobiography and she said that she didn’t get paid when she was first in KING magazine and magazines don’t pay models when they are in their magazine. I was wondering if this is true and if not how much does an urban model generally get paid? And also what are some good rates for me to begin my career: Hosting, videos, magazines and etc?”

There’s definitely truth to what Buffie said. In general, urban magazines don’t pay much, if at all. But this is not unusual in the modeling world in general. The editorial rate of most magazines is pretty low ($100 to $200) because being featured in the magazine alone is like a huge advertisement for the model and leads to bigger paydays. What’s interesting in the world of urban modeling however - and some would argue it’s not unique to this genre - is that the urban mags often try to skip out on paying the model altogether. Bria and I have had to chase down payments from just about every magazine she was in. This can get pretty unpleasant and a lot girls just give up, for fear of antagonizing the magazine’s staff and killing their chance of ever appearing in it again. This is where having an agent or manager can help, because they can track down a model’s money relentlessly without the model ever getting her hands dirty.

What Urban Models Really Make Might Surprise You


First, it’s important to realize that the Golden Age of Urban Modeling is over. It happened about five years ago and a number of factors coincided to end it. In 2005, a top urban model might make $5,000 to host a party, $5,000 a month on her website, and $1,500 to be the lead in a music video. Nowadays a model is lucky if she gets $1,000 to host a party, brings in $1,000 a month on her membership-based website, or makes $500 to be a lead in a music video. Even at its peak, urban modeling was never really intended to be the sole source of a woman’s income, but more so to supplement it. That’s because the work is too sporadic to count on for consistent income.

So on paper, urban modeling looks like a pretty bad proposition from a financial perspective. But there are a number of “fringe benefits” that can’t be monetarily quantified and make it more palatable. (That’s the subject for a different blog post.) Also, once you become well known, sometimes you’ll get a little bonus. A job that comes along and seemingly makes it all worthwhile. In 2008, Bria was in an Xbox game entitled “Don King Presents: Prizefighter.” Bria played herself as a reward to players that boxed their way to a certain level. I personally attended the recording session at Smashbox Studios here in Los Angeles when Bria taped this. She made $1,700 and earned enough credit to join SAG for four hours of work, which consisted of her reading a few lines of dialogue and taking some photos so that a CGI version of her could be created. (There are actresses out there struggling who don’t have enough credits to enter SAG.) That was one of those “cherry on top” jobs that happens every so often for urban models who are consistent performers.

Listed below are some general ranges of what a fairly successful urban model like Bria Myles can make from certain endeavors:

Party Hosting:
$0 - $1000
(A lot of models host parties for free to get exposure. Few make more than a $1,000 for an appearance)

Music Video:
Lead ($300 - $500); Featured ($150 - $300)

Magazine Feature:
$100 - $200 (the BlackMen SSX issues are rumored to pay up to $4,000, but those are far and few between these days)

Membership Based Website:
$500 - $1,000 per month

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