The Dangers of Multi-Channel Networks 

As a YouTube content creator, you’re probably familiar with the fact that multi-channel networks, or MCNs, can really blow up your YouTube account and bring in the big bucks 💰.

However, I’m here to protect 🛡️ you from the dangers that come along with entering into poorly structured MCN agreements. 

But first…

What is an MCN, and how does it work?

Put simply, MCNs are companies that you hire to increase your views 👀, subscriber count, and the overall popularity of your channel. 

When you hire an MCN, you agree to a deal in which they will take 20-40% of your AdSense revenue 💲 and any other revenue your channel or account generates. Plus, the MCN you work with gets a cut 💸 of any #brand #deals that they locate, identify, and allow you to participate in. 

Sure, that’s a lot of money, but all the big YouTubers including Pewdiepie, Major Lazer, and David Dobrik have or had MCNs in their corner because the value is worth the cost. 

The two types of MCN agreements

There are two types of MCN deals that creators have to choose between: affiliate arrangements and MCN-owned arrangements.

When you make an affiliate arrangement with an MCN, you, as the creator, retain the rights to and own all of the content on your channel 🙌. 

MCN-owned arrangements, on the other hand, allow MCNs to own your entire account 😮. As a result, you act like an employee of the MCN for #producing content on your channel.

As a social media attorney, I always urge my clients to focus on affiliate arrangements when dealing with an MCN. This way, creators can retain ownership of their content and channel regardless of their contractual relationships.

What MCNs will do for you

MCNs can afford to take so much revenue from creators because of the value of the services they provide, such as:

💯 Advertising

Most MCNs will advertise creators and channels in their vast multimedia networks 👥. These networks can include up to 1,800 outlets to show off your content!

💯 Promotion

Oftentimes, MCNs will promote creators with larger accounts and channels. 

💯 Bigger brand deals

MCNs have access to huge brands, providing you with a better opportunity to acquire brand deals and make more money 🤑. 

💯 Graphic design 🎨

Usually, MCNs have in-house graphic designers 👩‍🎨 who can help design merchandise 👕, thumbnails, banners, logos, or whatever you need! 

💯 Free apps

When you work with an MCN, you’ll most likely get free access to apps and websites 💻 that help you produce videos and content more efficiently.

Some of the common websites MCNs may provide access to include EpidemicSound.com and Storyblocks.com. Free access to these sites allow you to obtain stock or royalty-free audio 🔉 and #footage 📹 to help beef up your content.

The flip 🌀 side

The fact that these are just some of the services commonly provided by MCNs can sound a little too good to be true. Unfortunately, when things sound too good to be true, they often are.

Most of the time, the drawbacks of MCNs appear in the fine print of the contract 📜 you sign when making a deal. 

Since this fine print is often difficult to understand, you should hire a social media attorney to review contracts and explain the terms to you before signing 🖊️. 

Whether you’re hiring an MCN for Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube, getting an explanation of contractual obligations from a lawyer is always the best move.

Assuming you’re entering into an affiliate arrangement with an MCN, here are some of the cons you may run into:

👎 Loss of revenue

 As mentioned earlier, when you partner with an MCN, you’re only bringing in 60-80% of the revenue you’ve earned from your channel. 

That means if you’re used to bringing in $1000 per month from your AdSense revenue, once you sign a deal with an MCN, you’ll only bring in around $600. That’s a lot of cash 💵 to give up.

👎 Long contracts

Most contracts you sign with MCNs will require a two-year 📆 commitment. 

While two years may not sound like a lot of time, in the social media world, a lot can change in 24 months. 

Think about it: You have no idea how many subscribers you’ll have in two years, or even what type of content you’ll want to produce! In the online world 🌐, signing on for a two-year commitment is a pretty big deal.

👎 No promises

Of course, any MCN you deal with will want you to succeed – they win 🏆 when you win! 

However, MCNs can’t guarantee that their services will help improve your channel . Plus, whether you’re succeeding or not, they will still take their share of your income.

The reality is, some brands simply may not want to work with you, and 20-40% of your revenue is a lot to give up when your channel isn’t thriving 🤷‍♂️.

👎 Pressure

Another common problem that comes with MCNs is a sense of pressure to collab and cross-promote 👯 with other creators and channels.

Sometimes, MCNs will ask you to work with another channel or YouTuber who you don’t think fits with your brand. While most agreements won’t force you to cooperate with the MCN’s efforts, the more you reject ❌ their offers, the less apt they are to bring you brand deals and help you out.

This situation could put you in a tough spot: Would you rather comply with the MCN’s wishes and hopefully get more revenue and brand deals, or do you want to resist and risk the possibility that you’ll end up with less 🤔? 

👎 The Defy Media situation

Back in 2018, an MCN named Defy Media mysteriously 🔮 went out of business and completely disappeared, taking a lot of creators’ money along with them. 

Whenever you do business with a smaller or less-reputable MCN, there’s always a possibility they will go out of business and cause you huge losses 📉.

All in all, that’s the tough thing about MCNs: 

They could totally crush it… or they could crush you.

Proceed with caution 🚧

Here are some of the best pieces of advice I could give my clients who are considering working with MCNs:

☑️ Whether an MCN recruiter approaches you or you just have interest in MCNs, always request a draft copy of the arrangement that you’ll be expected to sign.

☑️ Be sure to hire a social media attorney 👩‍💼 to review said contract with you step-by-step. 

He or she should explain all the details of the agreement so you’ll be familiar with your obligations and what you’re entitled to.

☑️ Use your social media attorney to negotiate ⚖️ the agreement to help protect your rights and get you the best deal.

☑️ Only do business with reputable MCNs. There are many thieves out there who will make up-front promises to creators with no intention of keeping them. 

Most importantly? 

Protect ⚔️ your money and #creativity by investing in a social media attorney to help you navigate the world of MCNs.