Maker Studios was purchased by The Walt Disney Company for $500 million, and this blogger did say that, even with all of the criticism this space has leveled at it, that event was a huge accomplishment both for the founders and for YouTube and YouTubers as a whole.
But now that the confetti has cleared, and the drink has left the body, we’re still left with reminders of how Maker Studios does business with YouTubers. Take this entry that was originally posted over at the YouTube Partner Forums July 8th, 2013:
I want to start this being super straightforward: I want to influence your decision. I want you to read this and think ‘if they did it to him, they will do it to me’. This is because THEY CAN and THEY WILL do what they want. Maker Studios and all their subsidiaries (including RPM Networks, TGS – The Game Station, and Paramaker among others) have demonstrated in the past that they are not a company to be trusted. You can look up the issues that YouTube superstar RayWilliamJohnson had with them in regards to their bullying (holding his account on their CMS so they could keep taking money off his earnings, trying to force him to give them his content, etcetera, just Google it if you don’t know it yet and you’ll see what I mean). You will see how crazy Maker Studios can be.
It’s never good or wise to accuse someone of being bad if you don’t have any evidence or at least an explanation, so I will tell you exactly what the issue is, and you can make your own mind.
I joined RPM Networks on a 60/40 split where I would keep 60% of the revenue accrued through my videos and RPM (which I will call from now on Maker, because well, they are the same) would keep 40%. This is, of course, after YouTube takes their cut which some say is around 50%. So after signing I would keep 60% of the 50% left after YouTube took their cut. Fair enough… or was it? Well, I won’t lie and say that I expected more out of what Maker offered in the contract. I didn’t. I expected exactly, and ONLY what they offered, which was the royalty-free audio library and most importantly the promotion of my channel on the network.
I managed to use some of the royalty-free music, but in most videos I don’t even have any of it because I think it is pointless for the kinds of videos that I make.
The worst issue is the fact that they didn’t try to promote my channel even though I managed to get over 10k subscribers over 12 months. I will be honest again and say that I do not keep track of other channels on YouTube, I hardly have time to keep track of mine so I focus on mine 100%, therefore I have no idea if getting 10k subscribers over 12 months is good or average or bad. I just don’t know, but I think it is quite a good number. I also have a very loyal fan base, I don’t lose a lot of subscribers every month, which means that they don’t just do an impulse subscribe, they actually like my content.
None of the subscribers I gained came from any sort of promotion that Maker did about my channel – first, my content is produced in Portuguese and Maker clearly only cares about content creators who make videos in English. They offered to move my channel to Paramaker, which is a Brazilian subsidiary of Maker so my channel could “have a chance” of being featured. They never said that it would be, but in the contract they clearly state that they give you all the support you need to grow your channel and audience. In my case, they never did. They would take 40% of my earnings for basically nothing. The first month that they took 40% already paid them for the 2 royalty-free songs I downloaded to use. After that first month, it was as if they were stealing from me, because if you take someone’s cash and don’t do anything in return, well, that’s stealing isn’t it? I know that I signed a contract, but on the basis that they would give me support, which they didn’t.
Anyway… the most serious issue is below:
In March 2013, Maker activated my account on their dashboard for a feature called “Exchange”. Basically, what this did was to give you some points to spend in things that would boost your views, subscribers, likes and comments. Basically, let’s say that they gave you 100 points to start with. You could create “promotions” which ranged from posts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The YouTube options were to spend, for example, 8 points for each “like”, or 10 points for each “subscriber”. So with 100 points I could create a promotion in the dashboard that would let me get 10 new subscribers for 100 points, meaning that 10 points per subscriber. How this system worked was that other people had the same thing and they could set up promotions. So every time they created a promotion, say, to gain new subscribers, every time I clicked on subscribe WITHIN THE DASHBOARD, that user would get a subscriptions (duh) and I would gain some points for doing that too! So this is how you could accumulate points to create your own subscriptions. Remember, all of this happened through the Maker dashboard, it didn’t take you to the video page to click on the features. It could track your clicks within the dashboard in order to validate the action to give you the points you were earning for completing each action. Basically, you were paying other people to click on your favorites, comments, likes and subscribes, and people were paying you to do the same. They were not using currency, they were using points, but that’s irrelevant, because below I quote a portion of the YouTube Terms of Service that CLEARLY show that what Maker Studios was doing was FRAUDULENT:
Do not manipulate or incentivize others to click on video features, such as “Like” or “Favorite,” to improve your standing and visibility across the site. We consider these to be fraudulent clicks and/or queries.
YouTube then clearly stated that they could terminate your account at any time after you’ve committed this fraud.
Basically, Maker Studios broke the terms of service by activating this feature on their dashboard and offering you the feature. They also committed a crime because they didn’t tell you that this was considered fraud, causing you to put your account at risk. For people like me who have more than a hundred videos and makes sure to never break copyright rules, and partly (or fully for the more successful ones) makes a living out of AdSense, having your account terminated because of Maker Studio’s irresponsible actions is simply not acceptable. They have a fiduciary duty to all the users they have contracts with because AdSense is MONEY and they broke this duty towards me, they violated my contract with them, and therefore they should terminate our agreement and give my account back to me, RIGHT?
For Maker Studios, NOT SO! They claim that they did nothing wrong (that’s only their clearly biased word against YouTube’s TERMS OF SERVICE, WHICH IS A LEGAL DOCUMENT!
So I asked them to release my account from their CMS because the contract was broken, but they didn’t. They are still holding my account and they are stating that they will continue to do so until my contract is due to end at the end of this month (July, 2013).
The issue is, what they are doing is illegal, because they are stealing my money. They have no right to 40% of my revenue any longer because they broke the contract, and they should give my account back to me by releasing my account from their CMS.
They just won’t do it! I have no idea if they will release my account at the end of the month but this is not the reason why I am writing this. The reason is that they made me sign a contract where I had rights and obligations and so did they, but even after I kept to my obligations and they broke theirs rendering the contract invalid, they are keeping MY channel under their CMS, taking God knows how much of my money.
So I hope that after reading this, you decide NOT to join with Maker Studios or ANY of their subsidiaries like RPM Networks, TGS, Paramaker and others, because once you accept that email that YouTube sends you asking if you allow Maker to take control of your AdSense, you are basically giving them your earnings FOR EVER, until they decide to release you. There is absolutely NOTHING you can do, even if you contact YouTube, they will NOT release your account from Maker’s CMS even if you clearly prove that Maker broke the contract that you thought had any validity.
Don’t forget, if you are reading this it is because you probably are a small YouTuber without a lawyer or a legal team to defend you, while Maker Studios is a huge company that can use the contract against you while you cannot use the contract against them.
DO NOT sign up your channel to any of Maker Studio’s networks especially if you are not living in the USA. It will be practically impossible to regain control of your channel from another country.
I hope that my super long post influences you and protects your channel and your interests, because Maker Studios and their subsidiaries are out simply to make money out of honest people without providing anything back and without honoring their own contract. Remember, once your account is under their CMS (a feature that YouTube gives networks to take control of channels), they can keep your account there forever. Unless you have a lawyer to fight for you (which will be extremely expensive), Maker could keep making money out of your hard work and they know this fully, that’s why they don’t care about people like me or you. If they didn’t care about RayWilliamJohnson, do you think that they will care about a “nobody”? Do not fool yourself, be smart.
And if anybody here tries to attack me and defend Maker Studios because “it works for you”, then great! That’s just great! Until they do something wrong and you’re the victim. Also, be aware that nothing stops Maker Studios employees from creating an account on this website to try to troll and make the opinions of people like me vanish, so they can abuse more people and make more money dishonestly.
WhereIsMyCMS also posted a link to yet another account of a tale of woe with Maker Studios. This one called “The Rise and Fall of Maker Studios – A Tale of Love, Betrayal, and Money.” What’s interesting in that post, is the author points to what he claims are even shadier practices at Machinima and TGN, like “outrageous” subscriber count demands.
Oh, and that author made this rather angry video:
I do hope, one day, we can point to more good examples of YouTube Channel growth without stepping on heads on the way to the top. So far, Awesomeness TV, which sold to DreamWorks, is providing the best example.