The Madeleine Brand Show for January 31, 2012

Culver City media company makes millions ... of views for YouTube

Rise of the 'Tubers

Grant Slater/KPCC

Maker Studios in Culver City is the closest thing the world has to a viral video factory. The upstart studio produces content solely for YouTube and racks up hundreds of millions of views in the process.

Media companies are popping up around Southern California to create content, not for television, cable, or the silver screen, but solely for YouTube.

Maker Studios is a successful production company in Culver City that sees YouTube not as an experimental space to test ideas, but as a platform for success on a global scale.

The company started two and a half years ago as cooperative effort among some of YouTubes's biggest self-made stars with channels and subscriber bases that rack up views by the hundreds of millions.

Maker Studios founding members include Kassem G and other YouTube stars who wanted to help talent find their audience and maintain it.

The company hooks up talent with videographers, editors, marketers, producers and studio space, and in return gets some of the revenue from the ads that play right before a YouTube video starts.

"Maker is an enabler for artists," said Mickey Myers, the head of comedy at the studio. "You get all the benefits of a network. You get all the resources of a network. But you don't have the filters of a network."

Today, Maker has 300 channels on YouTube that net 500 million page views a month. The company has gone from a handful of employees working out of living room studios to 160 full-time staffers and 40 part-timers.

Maker's chiefs are in the process of moving to a new headquarters also in Culver City with more soundstage space and administrative offices.

The company just received a portion of the $100 million YouTube awarded producers to create premium video content. They're riding what YouTuber's call the "third wave of broadcast."

The YouTube revenue deal funds new content areas for a company that draws the vast majority of its viewers with comedy offerings. The new content verticals are a channel for the Moms of the YouTube generation, an MTV-meets-YouTube and programming geared toward Latinos called Tu Tele.

James McQuivey, a web video analyst at Forrester Research, said it’s too soon to tell if YouTube will shake out as the platform of choice for these content creators. This might just be an elaborate audition to get the big studios take notice he said.

"They say this is where they want to be, forever," McQuivey said. "We want to work within the YouTube system, we want to distribute globally, and yeah, we’ll make less money per viewer, but we’ll have a chance to really control our own production destiny."


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