Ray’s YouTube career started with his namesake channel in the April of 2009. He started publishing videos in a series called ‘Equals Three (=3)’. It became instantly famous making ray an overnight celebrity. The series contained a string of videos commenting on popular YouTube videos. Funny, sarcastic and often dark, his commentary immediately connected with millions of people worldwide.
The series went on to create many landmarks and records at the time. His channel ‘Ray William Johnson’ became the first channel to cross the five million subscribers mark on YouTube. The number of followers on his channel has been on a constant upward spiral ever since. The total views on his channel has crossed a whopping 3 billion. The popularity of ‘Equal Three’ was such that for almost two years (2011-2013), the channel had the highest number of subscribers on the site. In the early months of 2012, Ray created history by being the first YouTube millionaire. In the early months of 2012, Ray created history by being the first YouTube millionaire.
It is not to say that everything was a walk in the park all throughout. His videos faced extreme criticism and negative reviews from a particular section of critics who found it extremely crass and not suitable to be called comedy. However, these critiques were few and far between to stall Ray’s meteoric growth.
Notwithstanding these criticisms, some of which even claimed that ray does copyright infringement by creating content on already viral videos, Ray continued to do what he does best- make videos. He even partnered with a studio, Maker Studios, who provided him with a set in Culver City, California in 2011. Before then, Ray used to make the videos in his apartment in New York City.
Later that year, Ray did a Spanish version of his hit show ‘Equals Three’, namely, ‘Igual a Tres’. Although it did not break the ceiling like the original show, this show was well received by the Spanish speaking populace. Around the same time, they created another YouTube channel – ‘Your Favorite Martian’, where they made funny animated videos.
However, there was soon trouble in paradise as Ray had a massive fallout with the producers at Maker Studios majorly over the stakes at the channel. The studio allegedly wanted to take a 40% cut from his previous shows and a 50% stake of the Intellectual Property of ‘Your Favorite Martian’. Ray, quite understandably, refused to sign the agreement and hence, they parted ways in October 2012.
Soon afterwards, Ray laid the foundation of his own studio, namely, Equals Three Studio. However, the fallout between him and Maker Studios added to the diminishing quality of his content and videos, and that saw a plunge in Ray’s growth curve for the first time in years.
The show 'Equals Three' was discontinued from March 2014, with Ray venturing into new fields. The show was later aired again with Robby Motz as the new host. At the time of his departure, Equals Three had garnered over 2.6 billion views from over 10 million subscribers.
Next on Ray’s list was a video series of five episodes called ‘Riley Rewind’. Released exclusively on Facebook, this series was extremely well received by fans and critics alike and was viewed in excess of 10 million times on Facebook. As of 2017, his Facebook profile has a following in the excess of 7 million.
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He was simultaneously working on a podcast called ‘Runaway Thoughts’ with his then girlfriend, Anna Akana. The podcast was successful, earning a place in Variety’s list of Top podcasts of 2013.
In the years that followed, Ray has been busy with numerous productions under his banner. He has been associated with various projects in various capacities including actor, director, writer and producers. The shows that aired under his banner include Booze Lightyear, Top 6, Comedians on and Date Debate.
Apart from his own productions, Ray has also been a part of a number of productions from different studios. He did the voice portrayal of Boba Fett and a full portrayal of Goku in Marker Studio’s ‘Epic rap Battles of History’. He has also featured in movies such as ‘Who’s Driving Doug’ and ‘Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie. Other movies that he has been associated with are The Professionals, The Annoying Orange, Breaking NYC, Breaking LA, The Fluffy Movie, Manson Family Vacation and We Love You.
In 2015, Ray partnered with his former colleague at Equals Three, Kaja Martin, to establish the Mom & Pop Empire, a film production house. They have been working on a documentary ryiong to expose the dark world of cable monopoly.