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Michelle Phan goes beyond YouTube with Icon multi-channel network

YouTube star Michelle Phan is launching her own online video network, Icon, which will cover beauty, fashion, food and other lifestyle topics – but not just on YouTube.

The network is a partnership with television firm Endemol, and will distribute its videos through a range of partners online and on TV, as well as through its own mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.

Phan made her name on YouTube with a beauty channel that has grown to 7.6 million subscribers and nearly 1.1bn lifetime video views.

Icon is launching with US and UK versions, with other countries to follow in western Europe and Asia later in 2015. Phan is the network’s biggest star, but she’ll be joined by other YouTubers including Ann Le, Cassey Ho, Charis Lincoln and Anisa Noor, with ambitions to showcase new faces too.

The new network will be available through its own YouTube channels, but also on rival online video service Dailymotion; set-top box Roku; various connected TV services; social networks Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and Tumblr; and through TV syndication deals with AOL and Scripps Networks.

Icon isn’t strictly a new multi-channel network (MCN), but rather a rebrand of Phan’s existing For All Women Network (FAWN). Its YouTube channel has been renamed Icon, having signed up more than 387,000 subscribers so far.

The seeds for Icon were laid in May 2014, when Phan signed a deal with Endemol Beyond – the MCN division of Endemol – to launch a “premium, female-focused lifestyle network”. Eleven months on, Icon is that network.

“I am first a creator, but my ongoing objective is to leverage my personal success, to help mentor new and existing talent, and further help them achieve their goals,” said Phan.

It’s the latest step for Phan in a digital career that was already burgeoning when, in April 2014, YouTube made her one of its first stars to appear in a TV, print and billboard advertising campaign in the US.

Phan also runs a technology startup called Ipsy, which charges people $10 a month for regular packages of beauty products and tutorials on how best to use them. Currently more than one million people are paying for the service.

She also co-founded a music company called Shift Music Group, which will license tracks for use in online videos. It launched months after Phan was sued by dance-music label Ultra Records for copyright infringement, claiming that she did not have a licence to use its music in her videos.

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