What is a YouTube Multi Channel Network? If you are a YouTuber, in most probability you know the answer. If you are not, the chances of you knowing anything about MCNs are pretty slim. But even the ones who know what an MCN is, usually don’t know more about it. They’ll probably know the definition of an MCN and will have a superficial knowledge about how they actually work with content creators on YouTube. Ask them anything more – they usually stare blankly back at you.
That’s probably why we get so many questions by people on the online chat on our website, asking us – how they can work with an MCN, how they can cancel their contracts with an MCN and sometimes how they can become an MCN.
The answers to the first two questions is pretty simple –
If you want to join an MCN, you either wait for the talent scouts of the MCN to notice you or you reach out to them (through the contact details on their websites) on your own.
If you want to cancel your agreement with the MCN, you have to go through your channel’s manager at the MCN.
Answering the third question is not as easy though. Even if you do a lot of internet research, you’d still find the whole process murky and difficult to understand. That’s why, I decided to pen a blog on this myself. Since I’ve personally interacted with a lot of MCNs and we at Vidooly work with so many of them, I have a good vantage point view over the subject.
Related read: How MCNs help artists to become digital superstars
So, without more jibber jabber, let me get on with it:
Different types of YouTube Networks
Let’s first get the terminology right. There are 3 different types of YouTube Networks:
- Multi Channel Networks or MCNs
- Virtual Networks or Sub Networks
- Content Aggregators
Multi Channel Networks: These are the big fishes like Fullscreen, Machinima, Stylehaul etc. They are bigger corporate establishments and have thousands of channels under their network’s umbrella.
Virtual Networks: While MCNs take care of serious stuff like partner payout management, bringing in newer revenue streams etc; Virtual Networks or Subnetworks come under the MCNs and usually manage the front end processes like scouting for new talent and helping them in optimizing their YouTube channels. A couple of examples are – RPM Network and PewDiePie’s revelmode.
Content Aggregators: These are the smallest type of YouTube networks either under an MCN directly or through a sub network. They usually aggregate similar content creators and sometimes help them in production, editing etc.
Related read : 5-Step guide for MCNs to become profitable on YouTube
Starting an MCN
Just a couple of years ago, starting an MCN was not as difficult as it is now. But the YouTube ecosystem has grown so huge now that the rules have become more stringent and it is difficult than ever to be accepted or invited by YouTube to become an MCN. However, here are a couple of approaches that you can try:
The traditional way:
Create a Business Plan – Make sure that the plan is lean and neat with a control over the overall expenses.
Define a solid content strategy – You need to zero in on the type of content that you want to create or aggregate.
Become a content aggregator – Find YouTube channels that create such content. Look for as many channels as possible and reach out to them. Sign channel management contracts with them and help them optimize their channels and earn more money. Remember – an MCN is all about helping creators make more money.
Become a sub network – Once you have a substantial number of channels associated with you, reach out to a well-known MCN. If they accept you as a sub-network, you’ll get technical assistance to manage your channels better. (However, do remember that you need to shell out some percentage of earnings that you generate from your network of channels to the MCN)
Grow as big as possible – Keep on helping your partner channels to grow. Once you have enough channels, views and watch time, you can reach out to YouTube and get your own CMS (Content Management System) and an MCN status.
The newer aggressive way:
Create an aggressive Business Plan – Create a non-conservative business plan with enough budgets allocated for technology and infrastructure (Office space, employees, studio etc)
Setup a solid tech infrastructure – Building an in-house tech solution of your own might result in a lot of time and finance overhead. Therefore, look for technology vendors who can give you the following technology capabilities:
- A creator dashboard (with intuitive analytics for creators)
- Contract management (a centralized tracking of creator contracts)
- Reporting (a detailed section to keep track of the earnings of the creators)
- Financial management (creator payout management solution)
- Communication dashboard (Forums and messaging capabilities that can aid discussions and interaction between creators)
Get investments – With the business plan and the technological infrastructure in place, reach out to potential investors get some funding. Remember – having your own production facilities, a team, a well thought out content strategy and technology increases the chances of funding.
Aggregate channels – With all of the above in place, aggressively scout and sign channel management contracts with YouTube channels that resonate to your content strategy.
Reach out to YouTube – Finally, reach out to YouTube (through Partner managers) with your proposal. If YouTube deems that your plan is good enough, it’ll give you your own CMS along with the MCN status.
Challenges and things to keep in mind
Getting content ID – Getting access to YouTube’s Content ID system is not an easy task for most. There are many types of videos that are not eligible for Content ID. That’s why it is absolutely imperative that you cherry-pick the channels while you’re recruiting and ensure that no channel in your network violates the rules for Content ID. Click here to check out the types of videos that are eligible for content ID.
Long tail strategy – There are many MCNs out there that look for already established big YouTube channels of media houses for their network. This might give the network a whole lot of views initially, but it is not a good long term strategy. Don’t negotiate contract terms with the big channels just to get them onboard. Always ensure that you look for original content creators who can stay with your network for a long time.
Focusing on a particular content vertical – It is always advisable to concentrate on one particular content type. For instance – Machinima focuses only on the Gaming vertical whereas Stylehaul concentrates only on Fashion and Lifestyle vloggers.