Multi-Channel networks are independent organisations that work with multiple YouTube channels, while being neither affiliated nor endorsed by YouTube or Google. They can offer a number of services including funding, resources, partner management, cross-promotion, digital rights management, monetisation/ sales and audience development in exchange for a cut of the generated revenue or ownership of the content.
There is a large deal of variation between MCNs, in size, content and target audience. While some MCNs cover a wide range of channels, others choose to focus on specific genres. A good example of such an MCN is Vevo, a multinational service that offers music from two out of three of the most dominant record labels; Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment.
Originally, joining an MCN provided several services that were exclusive to YouTube Partners, such as generating additional revenue from adverts alongside videos, custom thumbnails and channel banners. In recent years, these features have been rolled out to all YouTube users by default and the role of an MCN has had to adapt to remain relevant. While services differ vastly between MCNs, their main purpose is to support content creators, either financially, via resources and expertise or by taking the effort out of arranging high-quality sponsors, advertising deals and branded integrations.
Multi-Channel Networks take a percentage cut of your advertising revenue and MAY also own the rights to any videos you publish. It is possible to be locked into a contract with a network, so even if you grow your channel, the network owns your content and prevent you from taking more lucrative deals elsewhere.
Before signing with a network it is imperative that you check the terms and conditions of your contract!