UUUM: The largest MCN (Multi-Channel Network) in Japan

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The term “YouTuber” is commonly used today, and MCN (Multi-Channel Network) business kicked off in Japan in 2013.  Some of you may have heard the term MCN when Disney acquired Maker Studios, a YouTube MCN, in 2014.  However, many of us are not familiar with it.  So what is MCN?  MCN is an organization that offers various services to YouTubers or creators on other video sharing platforms.  The service can include things like increasing the channel subscriber, monetizing/increasing the income of the channel, or managing the digital rights of the creators.

UUUM is the top MCN in Japan that offers an overall support to the Japanese YouTubers.  We asked Director Junji Takata about UUUM.

– Please tell us about the services offered by UUUM.

The media often refers to us as the talent agent for YouTubers, but we’re more of an MCN, an organization that bundles multiple YouTube channels and gives them a business/tech support as a third party.  Of all the YouTube certified companies, we have the largest share in the MCN business.

Our company does offer services similar to what talent agents do (managing a YouTuber, administering a large group of individual YouTubers, etc.), but helping a YouTuber upload a video isn’t everything.  We also create a business associating with the YouTuber’s video content, including developing games, producing goods, or holding campaign events.  So it’s hard to define whether we’re a talent agent or an MCN.  We’re kind of both.

– Please tell us about your background.

I’ve always loved music and wanted to work for the music media.  In early 2000s, music media was nothing like what it is today.  TV shows, newspapers and magazines were the mainstream music media, so I got an editing job at a music magazine to start my career while going to college.  About 5 years later, My Space and YouTube were born, and internet became my source of information.  Around that time, mixi (a Japanese social media) announced that they will launch a new music service, so I joined the project.  I worked there for about 5 years, being part of the launch team and running a marketing campaign by asking the celebrities to use mixi.

Then came the emerging of the smartphone, and the cell phone business started to change.  Cell phone companies launched a music download service, and smartphones also became a music player.  Just as I began to feel that subscription service was coming to a turning point, I got an offer to work with a project where Taiwan’s KKBOX was getting ready to launch a music subscription service in Japan.  There, I was in charge of organizing a music service and planning contents for KKBOX and Lismo (music download service for the cell phones distributed by KDDI, a Japanese telecommunications company).  As the media went through some major turning points from magazine to social media and then to smartphone, I was in the center of it all and saw the changes with my own eyes that helped me to stay alert for whatever changes to come.  The most recent change that I noticed was the influence of an individual, which lead me to think that these individuals could change the media in the near future.  That is why I joined UUUM about 18 months ago.

– Please tell us about your current responsibility.

UUUM has 3 main business segments.  A segment that handles the management of the creators, the sales segment that handles client relations, and the business development segment which I’m responsible for.  At business development segment, we do things like goods production, planning events, creating games based on the creator’s IP (intellectual property), distributing the contents to overseas countries like Thailand or Vietnam, promoting to the overseas viewers (for instance, we build a network with overseas MCN, invite the overseas influencers to Japan to introduce the content, and then have them spread the words in their home country through their social media account), or assisting the overseas companies to hold a campaign in Japan with the help of Japanese influencers.  Basically, we do everything from business development to marketing associating with the creator.  There is no rule of what we should or shouldn’t do in terms of business development, and we don’t limit our business to YouTubers or video platforms.  We’re very open minded, and the only thing we look for in a business is the concept of the content, and whether or not it gets us excited.

– What sets you apart from your competitors?

Because our business is so complex and versatile, it’s hard to define who we’re competing against.  If you look at our business segments individually, we may have competitors.  For instance, our marketing segment or creator management segment may each have competitors in the similar business field.  But as an overall MCN, I don’t think we have any competitors.

– How do you plan to expand your business to overseas?

We currently partner with companies in 8 countries for the influencer marketing business.  But there are various influencer business opportunities in North America and Southeast Asian countries, so we hope to work on those opportunities.  China is also an interesting country, because their internet culture is so unique.  People there can’t use YouTube or Instagram.  Our idea is to start a unique business for China in the influencer marketing or a legal video content streaming service.

– Which company interests you as a possible collaborating partner?

It depends on which business segment we’re talking about, but I don’t have any specific company in mind.  We currently collaborate with various companies in various projects like running a YouTube channel or developing a game.  We also have various creators as our resource, so we’re very open minded about who we collaborate with.

– Who is your influence?

Taro Okamoto (a Japanese artist known for his abstract work).  I love his paintings and books, but the way he lived his life inspires me the most.  He freed himself from the stereotypical ideas or common sense and expressed his unique style through art.  He once said “If you think a path is dangerous, that is the one your heart wants.”  I can really relate to that.

– Please tell us about your daily schedule.

Because I’m in charge of several different projects, my daily schedule depends from day to day.  Sometimes my day is full with meetings and I don’t even have time for lunch.  My team usually works from 10am to 7pm but we also have dinners with our customers and meetings.  Our schedule largely depends on the time of the year or the project we’re working on.

– Which App do you use often?

I love music, so TIDAL and Spotify are my favorites.  I listen to any kind of music except for classical music, but rock is where I started.  When I worked for the music magazine as an editor, I was in charge of the rock music columns.  I even used to own 7,000 to 8,000 record albums and CDs, although they’re all gone now.

– Where is your favorite hangout spot?

I’m trying to come up with an answer, but all I can think of is inside a cab.  Work has been so busy so I’ve been using cabs to get around, and during a cab ride I can get a lot of work done using Slack and e-mails.  Unfortunately, I don’t get home until late at night, so I haven’t had much time to spend with my family.

Currently, UUUM dominates the Japanese MCN market.  UUUM partners with over 3,500 creators, and their YouTube videos reach more than 2 billion views each month.  Even though they are the largest MCN in Japan, they would undoubtedly leap to a broader business and continue to be the state-of-the-art experts in the contents and creator world.  Takata will certainly to be in the center of it all and will continue to be a guiding light for UUUM.

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