Pewdiepie is not someone who produces content that I enjoy – in fact I can’t stand his strangely humourless attempts at comedy – and I also have my doubts about him as a person, but I’ll keep that to myself for now. Recently his spot at the very top of Youtube’s most subscribed list has come under threat by an Indian upstart: T-Series. As of this writing, they have nearly 69 million subs, and Pewdiepie has slightly over 69 million.
Pewdiepie has a lot of money these days, so he’s been able to carry out a big stunt where he advertised on billboards / on TV / in public bathrooms for more subscriptions to fend off T-Series for as long as possible. While he no doubt has some big management behind him and people presumably working for him in some regard, his channel is still based around him, a single person. And of course, he began completely on his own, screaming incoherently over recordings of video games. Despite his immense success he is still, more or less, an independent Youtuber.
T-Series was formed as a company in 1983, selling pirated Bollywood music on cassette. The following year they went legit with the OST for a movie called Lallu Ram. Over the rest of the decade they slowly grew until 1990, when they released what was their commercial breakthrough, the OST to a film called Aashiqui. Not only have they since become one of India’s biggest music labels, their ties to Bollywood also led them to move into film production, and as a side effect of that, the production of music videos.
T-Series are a slick, professional, corporate entity. They have countless talented people dedicated to pumping out films and music, with lots and lots of money behind them and access to all kinds of film making resources. They are not a sole person who are inevitably going to suffer burnout and depression, they are a huge company worth a lot of money. And this is why T-Series’s success is not really as special as anyone else’s on the biggest video platform on the web, and also why Pewdiepie is just embarrassing himself (again).
This whole affair is being framed as “India Vs The World”, because it wouldn’t be 2018 without people bringing unnecessary weird racial stuff into whatever they feel like arguing over. It’s not that at all. This is actually Huge Boring Media Organisation Vs Popular Twat. If this were a case of a single teenager in Delhi being about to reach 69 million subs, then that would be interesting. But at the end of the day, T-Series are basically Indian Vevo. It’s not really the same.
I began reading this article on writing and publishing things online. It begins with some good advice:
Please, if you ever want anyone to read your work or become a successful writer in the commercial sense, let this next sentence sink deep beneath your skull and into the core of your being:
Your blog is not your personal journal.
If you want to document your personal life online, that’s fine, but don’t expect it to resonate with other people.
Yes, you need to tell stories. Yes, you need to share your personality. But if you make it all about you, nobody will care.
Okay, fair enough. Except… what do I see coming in the very next paragraph?
The same can be said for the topics you write about. There’s an audience for many types of writing, but don’t be shocked if people aren’t racing to read your underground heavy metal band review blog (this is an actual blog I’ve come across).
Okay, fucking hold up here. In what way is a review blog of obscure metal bands anything like a personal journal? How would a quick rundown of, say, a cassette released by some grindcore band from Brazil be equivalent to an awkward confession about your porn addiction, which is what the writer gives as an example of an overly personal and pointless thing to write about? (Yeah, yeah, you can probably write a joke about that, but I’m avoiding it.) I can practically smell the condescension through my desktop monitor. “Oh my god, can you believe that someone took the time to write actual reviews on a bunch of people who just scream instead of sing and they’re not even well known?” Well, yeah, I can imagine that. And I’m happy that that stuff exists.
There are those who do appreciate having somewhere to read up on their favourite new bands who are resolutely not pop / big-room-EDM / ukelele-based-advert-music. There are also those who read such blogs in the hope of finding out something new in their genre of choice. Nobody who writes these things is under the impression that they’re going to have a million readers by the end of the month, they do it as a service to people who aren’t interested in music that is deemed acceptable by the criteria of wankers. And I say all this as someone who isn’t the hugest expert on metal or anything, but does respect the genre and happens to enjoy some of it. It may be far from “commercial writing”, but it provides a valuable service to some.
I’ll end this by pointing out that the second quote above contradicts something that comes a bit later in that same post:
Share what you know about a certain subject people want to learn about.
I don’t think I need to spell it out any more at this point.