The OG’s of YouTube: Where are they now?
YouTube was one of the most popular mode of entertainment in Bangladesh once. From music to comedy, there's nothing the platform cannot serve. Over the years, the platform has given rise to many acclaimed original content-makers. The trend has been followed in the country as well, with many local content-makers starting with YouTube.
But what was it like to start as a content-maker when the practice was relatively uncommon? How did the scene start and expand? And more importantly, which platforms have they moved on to, in order to enhance their talents? We sat with some of the pioneers of YouTube content-making, to explore the beginning of it all.
Xefer Rahman is a heartthrob artiste in the Bangladeshi music industry, who started her journey on YouTube. "YouTube was not famous in Bangladesh back then. Not many people knew about it. As a self-taught musician, I did not know any platform where I could start. So, I picked YouTube, as I could do it myself," she recalled.
"Initially, there were few responses, but it started to grow over time. YouTube to me was a platform where a young girl from her home could express herself. Now I'm an established artist and YouTube has a huge role to play in this," said Xefer about her journey.
Xefer began at a time when the world of content creation was heavily dominated by men. When asked about starting as a woman in the scene, she recalled that she was only a teenager when she started.
"I did not consider barriers such as my gender. However, I noticed how young women were inspired after seeing my work. I believe that every industry is male-dominated but we as women should never cease to make our mark."
"If you have what it takes, you should be confident and use any platform you want. People will always find talent," she said to young content creators, advising them to express themselves.
Shamim Hasan Sarkar is a well-known television actor who started his journey with the popular YouTube channel, Mango Squad. "When I went to Malaysia to study, I realized content creation on YouTube is kind of a big deal. Many people were video-taping themselves and creating different types of content. That is when the idea of starting the channel struck me," said Shamim.
Mango Squad was launched in 2014, and currently has 1.48 million subscribers.
Initially, Shamim had to deal with mixed reactions. He mentioned that his friends were wary of this too and told him that these attempts were immature. However, once the videos started going viral, even his parents loved them.
According to Shamim, the present YouTube scene has different types of content. There are a lot of categories at the moment, but he feels the fun of creativity that existed back in 2013-2014 is missing now.
"The humour is lost, partly because satire is not well-received in this country," he elaborated.
When asked about the influx of investment and sponsorship in the arena of content-making, Shamim says this often affects the content too. However, he also believes that young creators need monetary support to continue with their work.
"Salmon The BrownFish" channel started its journey in 2012 and was among the very first Bangladeshi YouTube channels to gain popularity. With a follower base of 1.59 million, the channel is one of the highest-circulating channels in Bangladesh.
The channel gained popularity by making comedy sketches on the peculiarity witnessed in public behavior. The element of satire brought a relatability to the content. Salman Muqtadir, the creator of the channel, is currently not making videos at the pace he used to and is busy with other business ventures.
Bhai Brothers Ltd
Famous for his satire on the urban elite, "Mr Absar" is one of the finest sketch comedy artists in Bangladesh at the moment. However, Rakin Absar, the creator, was brought to the masses through the iconic "Bhai Brothers Ltd.". Rakin initially made vines and started gaining popularity.
To introduce a diversified set of content, Rakin, along with Asif Bin Azad and other creators, formed "Bhai brothers Ltd". The channel was immensely popular for making prank videos, which were new in Bangladesh.
They also made comic videos on everyday matters, interviewing people and bringing humour to the common man. Recalling the journey's beginning, Rakin said, "It all started with our investment. We bought the camera, and other devices and shot the videos ourselves."
Rakin's current content has evolved into a specific niche and unlike before, he is a full-time content creator now.