Interview: Mike Tompkins Leaves MCNs Behind

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Mike Tompkins is one of those names that’s ubiquitous with YouTube success — he’s sort of like a reverse ghost story in the space: The Legend of Mike Tompkins. Possessing a phenomenal voice and ability to entertain, Mike is the consummate performer. The internet has seen far too little of Mike lately though — he’s been a bit low profile the last couple of years. That was then though — we’re only concerned with now. Setting up THE Acapella Producer project, Mike is reforming his channel and bringing a whole bunch of new content to it.

See, Mike is no longer tied into an MCN — he’s an independent now, which has allowed him to dictate his career on his terms. And as it turns out, YouTube is more fun when you can go at your own pace. NMR has wanted to sit down with Mike for a long time now, but part of his “flying under the radar” means not doing interviews, so we understand. BUT THAT’S ALL CHANGED NOW! We’ve got our Mike back (not that he ever really left), he’s cranking out awesome new content AND he agreed to do an interview with us. Day freakin’ made. So check out our interview with Mike Tompkins below and then jump over to his YouTube page and check out the new content. Yup, it’s a damn good day.

Since you’ve decided to go independent, how have things gotten better and how have things gotten tougher?

Mike: Putting out content on my channel has been easier. I can get things done very quickly. YouTube has really stepped up and been a big help to me. Dealing directly with YouTube has been really great.

Not everything is easier… I had a difficult time getting into VidCon last year, haha. A MCN can provide a great community of other creators, and sometimes that can be difficult to find as an independent creator.

Why did you decide to go independent in the first place?

For musicians on YouTube, a large portion of their business is working with brands. I really enjoy working directly with brands and I have built some of the most successful integrations on the platform. In 2014 my deal was done with the MCN and I was curious to see what it was like working with brands directly. In my opinion the deals are more rewarding for the brands and the creators.

Are MCNs worth it or is it better to stay independent?

There are positives to both; right now I’m in a season where being independent is a positive. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. All I can say is I’ve had a great time working directly with a couple brands.

Have you been pressured by any MCNs to rejoin them or to not speak out about creators going independent?

I’m not a ringleader in the revolt against MCNs. If an MCN wants an innovative creator in the music space to go after creative branded campaigns (whether that be for my channel or others) I’m open to that.

What would you say to other established YouTubers who are thinking about going independent?

You have to look at what the MCNs are adding to your channel and your overall career. What opportunities are coming directly to you or what opportunities are the MCN going out and finding you.

Allegedly you’ve got a song/video coming out on the 24th that details your struggles, can we know more about that?

I’ve spent the last three years trying to develop a “mainstream” musician/producer career. In 2012 I signed a record deal with an MCN and produced two original albums that never came out (which was out of my hands); the MCN used it as a bargaining tool. This was incredibly discouraging as an artist. This upcoming song is about pushing past those points of wanting to give up despite the situations.

What’s your favorite project that you’ve been attached to lately?

Season One! I’m producing a music video every Tuesday until April 21st on my channel. During the last few years making videos on YouTube has taken somewhat of a backseat. I’m diving full force into the platform. In the first quarter of 2015 I will have put up the same amount of videos than I have in 2013 and 2014 combined.

Last year I toured a lot! It’s the stage of life I’m in right now, coming back to where everything began (YouTube) and I’m having a stupid amount of fun making these videos.

Is there someone you’d want to do a collab with but haven’t been able to yet?

It’s hard to single anyone out. I like collaborating with creative people who want to push past the mold of traditional cover videos.

Can you tell us a little more about what The Acapella Producer project is?

I’m bringing a programming mentality to music on YouTube. Putting my music videos into “seasons” allows me to continue to do what I do best and my fans know when they can come and watch something.

My happiest times in my career were when I was making videos on YouTube. That’s how THE Acapella Producer project was born. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on everything I had going on outside of posting videos to YouTube. I’m aligning my priorities, top of which are my fans and making sure they are getting the content they deserve.

What’s been your most crazy “balls-to-the-wall” experience since you got into YouTube? Stalkers? Heroin smuggling?

I like to say I have the perfect amount of fame. I can still wear my 8-year-old sport shorts and ratted up v-neck t-shirt to Costco without people taking pictures to then find news reports that “Mike Tompkins has let himself go.”

However, when I was on tour once our van stopped at a gas station. I went into brush my teeth in the filthy gas station bathroom (because that’s what you do when you’re on tour). When I left the bathroom I found six girls who had followed our van 80 miles eager to take a picture with me. Somewhere out there are six pictures of me wearing said 8-year-old sport shorts and ratted up v-neck t-shirt.


Damn, it all sounds like it’s comin’ up roses, for this handsome bastard, right? Well, he’s worked hard, he deserves it.

Share this article because 2015 is going to be the year of Mike Tompkins — and NMR is kicking it off!

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