Lately I’ve been getting about 3-5 emails every week from MCNs trying to recruit me to join their network, which should not come as a surprise as my main YouTube channel has seen steady growth the past couple years. I made the decision to NOT sign with any other MCN moving forward as I never benefited from the two I’ve worked with the last three years. I refuse to buy into their ‘promises’!
Multi-Channel Networks (“MCNs” or “networks”) are third-party service providers that affiliate with multiple YouTube channels to offer services that may include audience development, content programming, creator collaborations, digital rights management, monetization, and/or sales.
Here are my thoughts on MCN’s based on the experience of having worked the past three years with two of the industry leaders. I won’t name them, as the comments below are not specific to any ‘one’ and I’ve made some good friends along the way and I’d hate to jeopardize that. I’ve also had discussions with other YouTubers who’ve worked with MCN’s, so some of what I’m about to share is based on their feedback as well.
MCNs and other third-party service providers are not endorsed by YouTube or Google, but you can view a list of YouTube Certified service providers in the Creator Services Directory.
- you’ll be required to sign a date specific contract, which will outline terms such as the lenght of the contract, give them permission to manage your channel/content, cost of having them ‘work’ on your behalf (usually a % of your Adsense income) and each party’s role. Please pay attention to dates, ownership of your content, distribution and ALL the fine print
- they will promise higher ad rates (more $$ for you), access to training, access to private royalty free music, a dedicated “manager”, and claims of growing your channel
- from experience NONE of the above materialized (except the access to the music database.. but see note below)
- the training they promise is basically the same knowledge YouTube provides in their tutorials and offers from time to time at the YouTube spaces around the world
- I found that if you don’t have a channel with excess of 300,000 subscribers, you will get lost in their pool. No higher ad rates, no private/brand deals, no growth than the organic growth your channel would have achieved on it’s own. Most of their effort and resources are reserved for the higher subscribed channels/clients.
- after cancelling my contract with one of the MCNs I was signed with, I found myself getting copyright claims against videos where I used music from the supposed royalty-free database they gave me access to. Which means I risked getting flagged by YouTube (serious) and I lost the ability to monetize the videos. Basically someone else was earning income from my work
IMPORTANT! According to YouTube – Joining an MCN is an important choice for any YouTube creator. Before you join, make sure you understand what services and/or results the MCN will deliver in exchange for your payment. While some creators may choose to partner with an MCN, you don’t need to join an MCN to be successful on YouTube.
- if your channel is small, be realistic and know that said MCN cannot broker any real advertising deals for you
- if you receive a form email (ones without name or personal touch about you/your channel) be warned. They should at least know something about you and your channel if they’re really serious and it’s not just a numbers game for them
- they will claim to have signed BIG channels.. not always the case
- review their website and social media links to ensure they are active
- due diligence should also include – check for news and comments/posts about them on Google
- are they YouTube certified
- if you do sign, be sure to review the details about cancelling a contract with them. Many automatically renew and you could end up being committed for another term
- take a look at who in your niche they have signed. In my case both MCNs I worked with didn’t have a ‘food’ roster, so they didn’t have a strong pool to attract major sponsors/advertisers
- you will get promises of ‘collaborations’ with other content creators facilitated by the MCN.. never materialized for me. They have NO control who their clients work with
- you may get a dedicated manager, but know that if your channel is small.. you will be sharing said dedicated manager with countless others.
At the end of the day it’s up to you to decided if you want to give up a portion (feel free to negotiate with them on this) of your earnings to a company who will make promises.. the same sort of promises they ALL make. Promises they won’t deliver on, unless you have a channel with an amazing number of subscribers, views and fan base. While I never really benefited from being part of a multi channel network financially, I do know that if you run into any issues with your YouTube channel they will try to help you get it resolved. But again, the level of support they offer will depend on the size of your channel and how much money they make off your account.