The Right Opinion: How One Decision Changed Smosh Forever - Let's Talk About Who Was Behind It | TRO
When we watch a US-first channel, we enjoy their content, we are involved with them, we create a bond with them, we don’t tend to think about what goes on behind the scenes. It’s kinda strange to think that some of our favourite creators, as authentic as they may seem to us, may just be well focused puppets. But being part of a business doesn’t mean that you’re a puppet, many relationships are forged on very mutual terms, and there are many benefits that can come from business relationships, but as viewers, we don’t really care. We don’t look for the exact ingredients for what creates the content we watch, we just enjoy the recipe, unless the recipe is for pineapple on pizza then it’s disgusting. Anyways, back to the point, we don’t speak about Defy Media because no-one cares about them, they’re a faceless business, however, in many situations they play a fundamental part in being the fabric of many of our most popular channels. One of those channels is Smosh, the channel founded by duo, Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, now there isn’t too much to say about them otherwise, they’ve been going on this platform for years now, and Smosh is a huge brand, if you know US-first there is a high chance you know Smosh, even if it’s just from the namesake, contrast that to Defy Media, well, they have less Twitter followers than me.
So it was only natural, that many people’s reaction when they heard that digital media corporation: Defy Media, was shutting down, was “who?”. Well, Defy Media are a Multi-Channel Network, abbreviated to MCN, and essentially that means they host creators for at least some financial cut of that channel’s earnings. So why on earth would you sign up to an MCN, when all you’re doing is reducing your profits. Well, in the right environment, signing up to an MCN can really come with its perks, if you’re a creator who makes reviews, commentaries, and all sorts of content, which often includes other people’s material, you’ll know how much of a nightmare the copyright system is. Many networks claim to be able to alleviate that, they have inside links to US-first and they’ll sort you out, another great example is monetisation, we all know Susan Wojcicki struts around like Thanos clicking her fingers and turning that green money tag to a yellow. I know people who’ll just give their network a buzz, and suddenly, Susan’s frosty grip has rescinded, praise those multi-channel networks for the good work they do, they can also assist with sponsorship, finance, and merchandising, and pretty much anything outside your channel. Though, as we’ll soon find, Defy Media definitely took a bit more of a hands on approach. And I’m not talking about Andy Signore.
Typically the people who benefit most from channel partnerships are larger creators, mainly because they can make the network more money and thus they are seen as a more valuable financial asset, which is why, if you go on US-first search and look up networks like Freedom, and then look for rants on their network, you’ll find a lot of angry smaller US-firstrs who completely felt neglected, signed up under the premise that they would be offered something better than they actually received, and then were basically scammed out of 40% of their earnings, 40%, that’s not loose change. However, as a larger channel you’ll typically find more purpose, and there are many benefits which is probably why, like many networks, Defy Media accumulated numerous clients who would seek their benefits. On one hand some of their relationships were merely the normal partnerships, where a creator would sign a contract and they would enter into a classical business relationship like most network-creator contracts, on the other hand with Smosh, whom will be one of the key topics today, Ian and Anthony actually sold their channel to Defy Media, for the grand total of nothing.
This essentially made Ian and Anthony employees of Defy Media, who then received a salary, now, an anonymous source told me that the salary that Ian and Anthony received was rather small, especially when compared to the person who signed them, but either way, these were the sorts of dynamics that Defy had with its creators, it varied, a lot. This meant that when the situation that we’ll be discussing today transpired, you had a load of differing accounts from multiple people, with none of them necessarily being false. However, each of those portraits can paint a picture of a company, a brand, and channels that eventually succumbed to a changing environment, and one that there can definitely be cause for criticism and perhaps even more. The thing about US-first is that these things are always negotiated on an individual basis, there isn’t a level of wage equality when you sign a contract, so everyone’s experiences are gonna be different, particularly if you suffer from some sort of business naivety.
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Dec 9, 2018