Not so long ago, they were one of the only ways for YouTube creators to link up with each other, secure better ad rates for their content, and benefit from other services (like music licensing and digital rights management) related to economies of scale in online video. But as our industry grows, some creators have seen that the pluses of joining an MCN–from help negotiating brand deals and arranging collaborations to career coaching–can be marred by the sometimes unfriendly minuses of being in one.
In this week’s episode of Creator News—Tubefilter’s weekly investigative series covering issues affecting the entire creator community–we look at the rise, fall, and evolution of MCNs. And, most importantly, take a look at the creator-owned business that might be pioneering a new paradigm in creator collectives.
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To get a closer look at that next step, we must venture into a shadowy underworld. Glance through YouTube’s wealth of educational content, and you might see the telltale signs: a mention of Dave Wiskus here…a logo for Nebula there…These clues point to the organized world of the “Smart YouTuber Mafia”—an intended-to-be-derogatory nickname that was promptly embraced by its target, Standard.
Standard is one example of a new way to do business with creators that is unlike the old Hollywood and MCN models. Traditional entertainment agencies and MCNs tend to be backed by wealthy individuals, institutions, or venture funds. Because of that, they often prioritize growth and scale so their benefactors can make bigger returns on their investments–but growth and scale can come at the expense of what is perhaps their most valuable asset: creators.
The prevalence of these companies, however, offers a valuable lesson: When creators come together and package themselves as one united entity, they can wield more power with platforms, advertisers, sponsors, even fans.
Enter Standard, which describes itself as a community of “smart, educational, thoughtful creators.”
Founded by the aforementioned Dave Wiskus, Standard brings together around 100 YouTubers (including LegalEagle and Jordan Harrod, both of whom chat with us about their experiences) and offers them production resources, design guidance, career mentorship, sponsorship opportunities, and data like channel engagement analytics in exchange for a cut of their channel revenue. It also gives them a place on Nebula, its recently launched streaming service that now counts more than 100,000 paying monthly subscribers.
What makes Standard different? Unlike most other networks, it is owned by the creators it represents. Any creator who joins Standard can actually take an equity stake in the business, something Wiskus says is now necessary if a company is going to claim to be “by creators, for creators.”
You can check out more in the latest episode of Creator News right here on YouTube and in the embed above.
And, as always, Creator News is made possible by and produced in partnership with Patreon–the platform that helps you generate recurring income from your creative work by offering exclusive content and community to your fans. They’ve been amazing partners and we couldn’t do this without them. Go to Patreon.com/CreatorNews to learn more and launch your own Patreon today.