The Beef With Trusted Herd (Part 5)

Trusted Herd has always had a bit of a cash flow problem.

Unlike PopBookings which was backed by venture capitalists, TH was funded primarily through an angel investor in the initial stages. Later on, the company began to introduce Premium Membership to agencies that were looking for a more streamlined approach to the hiring process. Live event workers loved this idea that a company posting regularly on TH should be industry trusted, so introducing a product geared towards agencies was a very logical step.

The membership was simple: it allowed agencies to publish multiple job postings in the correct geographical location in order to find the best person for the event. Once TH combined with BA of FB groups, that membership seemed even more important because it would then push into the appropriate Facebook group so that even more people could see it. But almost instantly, there were signs that the benefits may have been overexaggerated: agencies started using the site to just build their own personal rosters since they would still have to onboard people into their specific payroll company. 

Furthermore, the incorporation of over 240 Facebook groups may not have accounted for dead internet theory and could have potentially had multiple bots inside of the groups. This would require moderators, in which TH asks them to VOLUNTEER their time to going through these posts (the compensation that the moderators receive is not known, if any).

Despite my own personal disappointments in Trusted Herd, I still felt as if they were more for the side of giving everyone a voice in the industry than PopBookings. I had heard disgruntled rumblings from agencies and account managers, but never had any way of substantiating any of the rumors. I did start to notice that some of the listings in the BA of FB groups were crazy low for the industry and the one time that I replied back to an agency via the BAGLAA groups, the agency switched the rate during the interview. I was also noticing a very clear shift in hiring practices: with so many no call, no shows affecting agency bottom lines, agencies just needed to make sure that a REAL PERSON was going to show up. This led to many agencies trying to intentionally make their hiring process “bot-proof” by making applications extremely convoluted as to bypass any potential bots. Agencies were not even looking at resumes or past experience anymore when hiring for an event.

The constant flux in the industry is not new. Typically, this is not an industry that most get into with the hopes of making it into a career. Whenever there are worker or union strikes, many come to independent contractor gigs in the event industry just to make ends meet during the strike. There is always a strong recruitment of college students for college related events, especially in towns where everything revolves around the local college or university. The turnover rate in this industry may possibly be the largest of any industry. That's why when TH announced a subscription for those seeking jobs, I instantaneously called it out as being a scam directly on the post announcing it.

The comment thread was immediately deleted by TH.

I am in no way opposed to a subscription service for BAs provided that the service is actually of value to the person. But to ask BAs to pay for a service to be seen to possibly get hired screamed that there was something else happening behind the scenes prompting this business decision (PopBookings is no saint here. They may have also been trying to sneak in subscription services to workers to certain agencies). There could have been several reasons this was the next step:

  1. As mentioned above, dead internet theory. This means that some agencies may have been having so many no call, no shows that they started to believe some of the applicants were just bots. Since TH was trying to crack down on the length of applications, the complaints from agencies may have prompted TH to come up with ways to ensure a real person was behind a profile. A subscription service requires a credit or debit card linked to a real person, so the yellow badge on the profile would simply tell agencies that is a real person.
  2. TH was trying to cash in on the 2023 entertainment industry strikes that were happening. The entertainment industry is the closest relative to the live events industry. This move coincides with the WGA, DGA, and SAG announcing that they planned to go on strike over the summer of 2023 and encouraging members of these guilds to start securing alternate employment.
  3. Passive income for Trusted Herd. The amount per month is so low, that many that signed up for the service would hardly notice it, even after they left the industry. Trusted Herd was looking to make money off of the workers whether they were actually hired through TH or not.
  4. Pushing out pre-COVID full time industry workers. Many who had supported TH in the early stages started to feel betrayed by the new rollouts. Pushing out people who were knowledgeable about how the industry works and replacing them with younger workers that are naive to how everything works means that a lot of the issues would never have to be addressed by TH or the agencies (a sentiment backed by TH publicly denouncing the grievances process for AAEP but never instituting one themselves). With the definition of BRAND AMBASSADOR becoming more synonymous with SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER than live events, many would sign up for the service hoping to find something completely different than what TH was actually advertising.

Trusted Herd introducing a subscription service for the workers shows just how far from the initial concept the company. But what effect does this have on the events industry as a whole?

Read the next installment of the series: The Beef With Trusted Herd (Part 6).

Leave a comment