2 February 2016, 14:56 | Updated: 8 May 2017, 17:09
A lesson in when things go terribly terribly wrong.
This week saw the utterly jaw dropping, schadenfreude inducing public shaming of YouTube heavy weights, The Fine brothers. The pair, who have been making videos since 2007, are the pioneers (or so they say) of the “react” format of videos on YouTube. Chances are that, if you own a computer and a working internet connection, you’ve seen these guys all over your various feeds.
So where did they go wrong? Well, they misfired. Big time.
The goal of a lot of YouTubers is to monetize their content. Sure, lots of YouTubers make video content with absolutely zero expectation of making money but, to do what you love, you’ve got to fund it. And, so far, the Fine Brothers have done a good job of earning money from their videos. They went from a team of 2 to a team of over 30 people, which is a massive accomplishment for a YouTube born production company.
And that’s how they pitched their case. That you, the viewer, had helped them grow so immensely that now they wanted you to share in the Fine Brother’s magic. They would give you the resources to carry on the “react format” in the form of “react world”. They released a (now deleted) video in which they explained how they they planned on offering licensing for their hugely successful “react” series. Along with that, plans for copyright were unearthed and shared online. People didn’t buy into their plans, so much so, that ire turned to full on rage.
A woman just fell on the street opposite me and I tried to react but I couldn’t because the Fine Brothers weren’t there to let me.
— Bry (@BryOnTour) January 30, 2016
there’s something really beautiful about everyone on the internet banding together to hate the fine brothers
— psychicpebbles (@psychicpebble) January 30, 2016
i hate the fine brothers.
— ヤジェイ先輩 (@imreallyjai) January 29, 2016
Fine Brothers trademarking the term “React” this is going to go down well im sure. Why do people gotta be such greed lords lol
— HybridPanda (@HybridPanda) January 29, 2016
People took immense pleasure in watching them lose hundreds of thousands of followers by the hour. They even watched as the Fine Brothers’ subscriber numbers fell very hard in real time. It was like a wound that refused to stop bleeding.
As it turns out, people don’t react well to obvious money grabs. Like the backlash to similar attempts by Taylor Swift, people didn’t see how having a successful thing translated to selling licensing fees. Other than the fact that the idea wasn’t a good one, it raised some serious perception problems for the pair.
The truth is that, for a company trying to get its bearings and expand, there are better ways to earn money. There’s Kickstarter, Patreon (really good for ongoing projects) and good ol fashion leg work (go out and find investors, guys!). Trying to license a concept looks almost as bad as it sounds and it seriously lacks creativity.
Since then, the pair have uploaded an apology video and penned an essay on Medium. They’ve apologized an tried to explain their intentions.
The concerns people have about React World are understandable, and that people see a link between that and our past video takedowns, but those were mistakes from an earlier time. It makes perfect sense for people to distrust our motives here, but we are confident that our actions will speak louder than these words moving forward. This has been a hard week. Our plan is to keep making great content with the help of our amazing staff. Thank you for your time and for hearing us out.
Whether you’re on their side or still a little bit annoyed with the Fine Brothers, it’s easy to see where they went wrong. They presented a crap idea as a good one and underestimated how much the internet hates to feel like it’s being policed. Hopefully, next time, the Fine Brothers and creators like them can come up with creative and genuinely beneficial ways to make money and give back to their supporters.