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March 09, 2016

MAKER STUDIO - PewDiePie / Shaytards / Markiplier / P’Trique / KassemG 

If you are not under the age of 30, chances are you are thinking “Are those even words? What could they mean???”. Well, we went to the public library and did some research. Apparently, there are people called “YouTubers”, and these YouTuber peoples are connected by something called “Maker Studio."


What is Maker?

With the revolutionary success of YouTube, YouTubers started to feel the need to protect and promote their brands. Groups of YouTubers started to come together to create different multi-channel networks that would on their behalf to "guide programming, funding, cross-promotion, partner management, digital rights management, analytics, monetization/sales, and/or audience development.” In exchange for these services, YouTubers give the company a cut of their advertising revenue made from their YouTube channels.

Many of such of these YouTube-based companies now exist, but Maker Studios, Big Frame, and Fullscreen are arguably the biggest.

The main benefits for a YouTuber to belong to such a network are mainly to provide legal and adverting services. For example, Maker will work on behalf of the YouTuber to secure a product placement for a video. Or if a YouTuber wishes to use a copyrighted song in a new video, Maker can work to secure the rights to the song.


Collaboration is Good

Maker also has another large benefit as well - facilitating collaboration. Maker promotes itself as a place where content creators can come together to share and collaborate on new and exciting ideas. Maker has office space in Los Angles dedicated to production and editing of videos. They also have greater ability to gain access to traditional media projects and Hollywood celebrities.

maker studio youtubers.jpg

Other than the intrinsic value of being able to create bigger, better videos for their viewers to enjoy, this exposer also creates bigger, better opportunities to dive traffic across all of Maker’s channels and thus drive up revenue.


And Business is Booming 

Ready to feel depressed? Watch this video - it has 70+ MILLION views:


That guy made $12 million dollars last year...


PewDiePie is only 26 years old and plays video games for a living. He lives largely secluded in Sweden, oh and by the way, did we mention he made 12 million dollars last year playing video games. In fact, Forbes reports that he made as much as the highest paid actresses in 2015 Kristen Stewart and Anne Hathaway and made more than Cameron Diaz ($11m), Gwyneth Paltrow ($9m) and three time Academy Award Winner Meryl Streep ($8m).

PewDiePie is by far the most popular YouTuber and Maker Creator. He has 41 million subscribers and 11 billion video views.

The lowest paid YouTuber in the top ten made more than $2.5 million in 2015. But even YouTubers with modest followings can make a comfortable living off of YouTube ad revenue alone.

Ready to become ~Youtube Famous~? Click below for our new guide, or read the video creators post.

Online Video Creator Guide to Traffic


Disney Buy That

The success of Maker Studio is two-fold. It is more than just a way to make money. Maker’s website homepage claims that “THE FUTUTE OF ENTERTAINMENT IS HERE” (!) 

And they might very well be right. YouTube itself has captured the attention of the most powerful demographic group: young people, or, as they are know these days *gasp* Millennials. For advertisers (and by extension media companies) to capture the attention of this alien species is modern day alchemy.

A survey shows that YouTube stars are more popular and influential among teens than traditional Hollywood stars.


This has made Hollywood take notice: The Walt Disney Company finalized a buy-out of Maker for $500 million in March 2014, but the sale could rise to $950 million if certain conditions are met. Relativity Media submitted a competing bid of up to $1.1 billion, but Maker denied the bid. DreamWork's Animation bought Big Frame for $15 million.

This was certainly a move by Disney to try and gain a share of the future of entertainment.


Oh the Drama 

It is not all milk and honey in YouTubeland, however, and Maker itself has had its fair share of drama.

Popular YouTuber William Ray Johnson was at the center of controversy when he decided to leave Maker in 2012. He stated online that he left Maker due to the pressure the company put on him to sign a contract which gave Maker a 40% share of his channel's ad revenue and 50% of his show's intellectual property rights. Maker, according to Johnson, used "thuggish tactics" to pressure him into signing the contract. He also claimed that Maker's CEO, Danny Zappin, is a convicted felon, which he was not made aware of, when teaming up with Maker Studios. Zappin later publicly admitted to this claim, saying he was convicted of a drug charge 12 years earlier. (Zappin has since stepped down as CEO).




The William Ray Johnson controversy started to generate criticism of companies like Maker for taking advantage of their content creators.

Machinima has been called out by it’s YouTubers for forcing them to sign perpetual contracts with low revenue sharing.

Fullscreen has been criticized for partnering with so many thousands of channel, many with little viewership, that the company cannot properly serve them all.


Humble Beginnings

All this drama seems shocking considering the romantic beginnings of Maker back in 2009. According to their website, the company was founding when some “forward-thinking” content creators worked together to drive traffic to a single destination called “The Station.” This station was a YouTube channel created for the purpose of “talent first” collaboration.

Eventually “The Station” evolved into the Maker we know today.


They look like they’re in a sitcom!


The Future and Beyond 

Maker says that it is the global leader in short-form video, as it is the largest network of its kind on YouTube.

Cumulatively, Maker attracts more than 10 billion video views per month and their YouTube channels have a combined 650 million subscribers. Maker has 55,000 content creators in over 100 countries.

The entertainment industry is changing and Maker sees itself at the forefront of that change. As the younger generations live a more mobile and on-demand lifestyle, Maker expects to change and grow with them.

No matter the controversy, being with the future of entertainment is an exciting thought.

Want to join Maker? Or check out the Maker TV site *Warning you could lose days there!



Conor Burton

Written by Conor Burton

Conor Burton is a senior Political Science and International Studies major at Loyola University Chicago. He is a Box Office Manager for the theater department at his home university and has studied in China for the past year.