Sunday, January 31, 2016

An Open Letter to The Fine Bros.

Look guys, you seem to have no idea why people are upset with you judging by this video. I want to help, so I will post this explanation of how much further you're digging yourselves into a hole.

I don't think that any of what you said in this video really does much to quell the fears and anger of the youtube community. I think the biggest reason for this is right about 2:30 where you say that it's an infringement if people make a beat-by-beat version of your series, but you've still failed to operationally define what makes your series' structure any different from any react channel. Because there are multiple people from a specific demographic reacting while the focus cuts between reactors? If that's all that you're saying makes a show a "beat-by-beat" replica of your series (which is hardly original to you, another thing that is pissing people off), then what if somebody were to, for example, try to defend the format of adding comedic commentary to a recorded walk through of a video-game and trademark "Let's Play"? They'd take down videos from Game Grumps, Pewdiepie, Yogscast, Markiplier, slowbeef, Kikoskia, and literally thousands more just because they feel that their "format" is being stolen. One of the biggest economies and some of the biggest celebrities on Youtube would be crushed almost instantly.

Rewinding backwards in the video a bit to 1:20, you don't defend your position very well when you are making such clunky analogies. This shows that even you don't know how to defend your position. Comparing the licensed videos to Burger King would make more sense if your plan was to let other Youtubers post your videos in whole and keep some of the ad revenue, since Burger King corporate sends the very products to each location, and all that the stores do is reheat and distribute (or, upload and repost in the Youtube analogy). This hurts my previous assumption that you guys are honestly trying to do a good thing and messing up while doing so because it appears that you don't even know your own business plan. You don't know what you're licensing, you don't know how to explain it, you don't know how to operationally define a single aspect of what you're offering. It seems the only thing that you do have in concrete is that people who use this format will send you money and that there are instances where you have taken down other videos because they did something mostly similar to what you are doing. This all comes together to reinforce the image that this entire idea is a sham for you to make money off of smaller channels by "letting" them replicating your entirely unoriginal format.

In summary: this video shows that you don't know what you're selling, how to describe it, or how to defend it. You do know how to defend your attacking other channels by painting the scenarios in vague terms (which is often perceived as a dishonest tactic), and you know that you want to make money by licensing a product that you can't even describe to struggling youtubers who will then give you a portion of their revenue.

How can you reverse this?

First of all: You guys fucked up. You have to admit that. You can't go on camera and tell everybody "Oh no we didn't do anything wrong, you just don't understand" and then struggle to show that you understand anything yourself. You can't even make a proper analogy for how it works, so how do you expect anybody else to understand your goals? You guys have fucked up so badly with this React World thing that it has become cancer to your channel and the only way to get out of this without being knocked down to Sam Pepper levels of being loathed is to drop the concept all together. To recap: React World is cancer and you need to cut it off of your channel.

Secondly: You need to openly recognize what you do and don't own. I'll grant that trademarking "React" makes sense from a standpoint that your business relies on you keeping that Youtube channel, but sometimes a strong defense is mistaken for readying an offence. It does not help when you have videos taken down that are similar to your channel's content but not "[your] specific series" as you try to insist are the only ones you will try to control at roughly 0:25. Your vague hand-waving of prior incidences that have left bad tastes in fellow Youtubers' mouths only hurts your public image, and you need to realize that the internet does not forget. Even if you remove all direct evidence, people complaining about it will be forever archived on internet comment sections and forums, immortalizing your perceived sins. You can't escape this. You need to stop painting these scenarios with broad terms and let people know why exactly you did these things and why they should trust that you won't abuse this power. Trying to justify it without explaining it doesn't help people to trust you. It just makes you sound like you either are trying to get away with something wrong or that you don't understand at all why it would make people uncomfortable, and neither of these are good PR moves.

Third: You need to take several steps back. Return to what was making you more fans. Your aggressive attempts to expand are only hurting your business and you clearly have no idea how to expand on the internet without annihilating your fanbase. Stick to what you actually do well and let your growth be organic. Try to make people remember the FineBros that they love and not the FineBros that are making them want to throw away the merch they may have purchased and unsub from your channel forever.

This whole mess has undoubtedly turned people who had been subscribed to you from the early days into people who will never watch your videos again. It's time for you to admit your mistakes, stop trying to explain your poor business decisions, and distance yourselves from this disaster you dropped on yourselves while you still have millions of subscribers left.

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