Ray William Johnson Speaks Out Against Maker Studios

Ray William Johnson has revealed (in detail!) why he left Maker Studios.

Johnson currently owns the most subscribed channel on YouTube, with 6.3 Million subscribers, and has amassed an immense 2 Billion views on YouTube since starting his channel ‘RayWilliamJohnson‘ four years ago.

Maker Studios is the largest independent YouTube network by viewers, helping YouTubers produce and monetize their content for a percentage of their revenue.

Writing on New Media Rockstars, Johnson explains that his relationship with the studio first started to break down when he was asked to renegotiate his contract eight months before it expired.

He approached me and said that Maker Studios needed to take a bigger cut of revenue from my online show “Equals Three,” and asked me to renegotiate my existing contract eight months prior to its expiration. I was reluctant to renegotiate my contract at first, but eventually I agreed. Their company had just recently laid off a significant percentage of their employees, and I wanted to be fair and allow them to take a bigger cut of the show’s revenue. At the end of the day, Youtube-based networks are built around exploiting Youtube channels for profit, and I totally understand that. Ultimately, I wanted to help them out and was open to seeing what the terms of the new contract might be.

When they brought me the terms of the new contract they wanted me to sign the terms were incredibly aggressive. They wanted 40% of my Youtube channel’s Adsense revenue after production costs, and more importantly, they wanted 50% of the show’s intellectual property in perpetuity. Let me clarify: they wanted to own 50% of the intellectual property of “Equals Three” for the rest of eternity and weren’t offering much in return.

When Johnson didn’t sign the deal or any of their revised contracts, Maker supposedly became “aggressive” in their negotiation tactics, threatening to shut-down production on many of Johnson’s projects:

I didn’t sign anything, and 48 hours later they shut down the “Your Favorite Martian” album that I had been working on for eight months. A day after that, they shut down production on “Equals Three,” a show that has been running strong for nearly 4 years – all of this in hopes of strong-arming me into signing over my intellectual property.

The popular opinion amongst viewers of ‘=3’ is that Johnson left Maker and then started producing ‘=3’ in his apartment, but this statement suggests that he had no choice but to take production to another location.

Johnson has since contracted popular YouTuber and producer Julian Smith to help produce ‘=3,’ alongside launching his own production studio ‘Runaway Planet.’

Be sure to check out Ray William Johnson’s full article on New Media Rockstars (NMR) for more background and images of the contracts he rejected.

This is the latest in a string of controversies surrounding YouTube networks.

Machinima, a popular YouTube network among gamers, recently lost in the court of public opinion when it was revealed that the contracts they propose to smaller YouTube creators do not have an exit clause or expiration date, so if there’s a disagreement like the one Johnson is having with Maker, there is no opportunity for them to leave the network without abandoning their channel and the audience they’ve built up over time.

This new controversy appears to be a major blow to Maker Studios. As if losing your partnership the biggest ‘star’ on YouTube isn’t bad enough, the negative PR is the last thing a company heavily backed by venture capitalist cash needs.

In response to the NMR article, Maker Studios CEO Danny Zappin amplified the issue by calling Johnson out publicly on twitter saying: “It’s 2:20….I’m still awake. Let’s have it out publicly. that’s what you want…right? sending you anew text now.” Zappin also sent a series of expletive-laced text messages to Johnson, stating “… prepare for war.”

More on this story as it develops.