Ray William Johnson NOT Starting a Network

On November 26, New Media Rock Stars reported that Ray William Johnson was starting his own production studio. Though not partnering with Julian Smith as originally reported, the two will be collaborating on a variety of projects. This is the next chapter in the career of YouTube’s biggest star since he left the network, Maker Studios.

What got my attention about New Media Rockstar’s interview with Johnson was his straightforward response when asked whether or not he would be starting his own network:

“No. That route certainly isn’t for me. I don’t know everything there is to know about Youtube-based networks, but as far as I do know, there’s no good reason to ever sign your Youtube Adsense account over to a 3rd party. Ever. Period. Anything a Youtube-based network wants to do for you, they can accomplish without seizing control of your Adsense account. If you want production or managerial assistance, then partner with a production entity or manager and pay them a percentage of your expected revenue, but don’t sign your Adsense over to them. Furthermore, from a business perspective, there’s no long-term business plan in owning a collection of thousands of Youtube Adsense accounts. Again, I say this having somewhat limited knowledge of every single Youtube-based network out there. I know there are dozens of them (networks) at this point, and who knows, maybe some of them are doing great things.”

I found it very enlightening to hear him say this. His point leaves me further pondering, what is the point of a network? He said things that I’ve found myself thinking. It feels like it’s just seizing your Adsense account over for no good reason. That is, if you already have branding features, as I do. But is it a scam?

I have always thought that it’s important to look at networks with a keen business eye, not just as a ticket to YouTube glory. With YouTube partnership, you can take the full profit of your videos without giving anything up to a third-party network. If you are giving a cut to a network, it’s as simple as making sure you are paying for something that you want. What is the network providing you, and is it worth the percentage?

But Johnson brought something to my attention that I hadn’t put into the equation, and that is that there’s no need to hand over your Adsense account to pay for a service. Anything that a network offers you, you can get without handing over the keys to your Adsense car. What is the point of handing your account to a network when you can buy your own music licenses, hire your own manager, hire your own graphic designer, or buy your own ads? It may seem seductive to have all these services lumped in with one network contract, but would they really be at the quality you prefer, and how much control would you be giving up of your own YouTube career?

I’ve heard many good things about networks, and many bad, but this has really given me a lot to think about.

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