Signing with an MCN (Multi-Channel Network) is a big decision and you owe it to yourself to know what you’re getting into. How MCNs work is they take control of your Google Ad-Sense account and in return they offer you help in some form. Depending on the company, a contract will last during a 3 month trial to a two year commitment and will take around 50% of everything you make in the YouTube world. That’s after YouTube takes their cut. These companies represent themselves to the YouTube community as talent managers often helping them grow and connecting them to brands. They will focus more on larger youtubers because getting them brand deals will in return will make them the most money. This is because the cost of setting up brand deals has to pay off for the MCN. There are lots of these companies that sign youtubers of all sizes and for good reason. Taking a cut of a lot of channels can add up to big business. A typical MCN with 1 billion views per month would be valued at $97 million and make around $21 million and run a traditional ad based revenue service. Not long ago traditional media companies started buying up all the big MCNs. Maker Studios was sold to Disney, Revision3 was picked by The Discovery Channel and BigFrame is owned by DreamWorks.As someone who has been making YouTube videos for a few years, I have been approached by a lot of these companies, some with ridiculous demands for joining and others not so bad for the time they asked me to join. You’re probably asking yourself why didn’t I join? It’s because no MCN has ever been able to offer me anything that I couldn’t do myself. Most things offered from MCNs in my experience were a custom thumbnail generator, SEO generator, a potentially higher CPM and collaborations with other members in their MCN. But I have Photoshop, google search, wouldn’t be in their biggest 1% of youtubers for a higher CPM anyway and have e-mail to talk to anyone I want to set up collabs with. There is no rule that I had to sign with their company to work with anyone else signed to them. If you are a small (under 10k) channel then these are the things you will most likely be offered. MCNs are businesses with the end game of making money. The hard fact is if the 50% of revenue they take from you isn’t making them very much money, then they won’t spend time on you or helping you grow your channel.
If you are already in a MCN and would like to leave, be sure to let them know 60 days before your contract ends(some contracts auto-renew). There will most likely be a series of back and forth e-mails trying to convince you to stay often offering a bigger revenue split. Always verify that they know you would like to discontinue before your contract is up.
So what can you do to get help without signing to one? First, education yourself. If you’re reading this you’re on the right track! Secondly, figure out what you need and go get it. If there is something you can’t do then hire someone else to do it for you. Does your channel need professional art? Then hire a graphic designer. Are you big enough that you need help with bookings? Then hire a manager to get you booked at events. The ultimate decision to sign to an MCN is yours, just be sure that you have your contract read by a lawyer and make sure the terms are worth giving up your ad revenue.