Epic Rap Battles is the other "epic" channel on YouTube that has built a huge audience and has a ton of videos that have eclipsed 10 million views or more. It's an idea as simple as can be: find two figures from history, real or fictional, that share similar DNA and have them rap battle each other to oblivion. Last year's Albert Einstein Vs. Stephen Hawking battle is one of the funniest videos I've seen on YouTube. A few days ago, ERB released a Mario Brothers Vs. Wright Brothers video starring Rhett & Link in an example of cross-promotion that can help build an audience for all involved.
Cross-Promotion: It's A Social Thing That Collects Audiences
We covered cross-promotion in The YouTube Creator Playbook coverage. What the Playbook says, and what Freddie Wong has said in his fantastic blog post that we allude to now and again, is that the collaboration should make sense to all parties involved, increasing their value, and reaching a similar audience that may not know about their channel. In this case, the collaboration is easy: Nice Peter, the channel behind Epic Rap Battles (although he recently made ERB its own channel) is a top YouTube presence, and Rhett & Link are Internet video gods who got everybody to know the name Chuck Testa.
Here's the video:
So if you like Rhett & Link, you'll obviously enjoy watching them as the Wright Brothers and busting mad rhymes with the Mario Brothers, played here by Nice Peter and Epic Lloyd. All involved have their brands/channels to market, and all stand to gain viewers from the collaboration. Rhett & Link have a YouTube channel, but they are so well-known for other projects, mainly their work on Rhett & Link's Commercial Kings on IFC, that the collaboration benefits their reputation as "friends of the Internet" more than attempting to gain new fans. That said, I was compelled to click to Rhett & Link's channel and discovered this video:
Yep, that's a dope zebra, all right. Complete with a Chuck Testa appearance!
Meanwhile, Nice Peter/ERB has set the bar so high now on their collection of videos, that adding guest stars to the lineup keeps the brand at a high level. Their success is no fluke, they don't have just one video a whole bunch of people happened to find one day while all the others sit at a low number of views. But I imagine that there is a little pressure to try to make something that appeals to a mass audience almost every time they post. The channel has been smart by pitting characters against each other that immediately make you want to click on the video. I mean, who doesn't want to click on "Darth Vader Vs. Hitler?"
And talk about leveraging. Throw Star Wars into something, somehow make it relevant to Hitler…they got 50 million views on that one. It was so successful they made a sequel to it a year later:
Predictably, they didn't get as many views, but it still clocked in at 17 million. Up-and-coming video makers starting their channels should take a look at how Nice Peter/ERB built an audience. They were helped with leveraging easily-recognizable names and pitting them against each other in a funny way, but these videos would be nothing if they didn't have solid, witty content to back it up.
As for Nice Peter's non-ERB stuff, he at least gets a million views for everything after that. It means, sure, he has a product that a huge amount of people enjoy more than anything else he has to offer, but the other stuff still builds an audience that it otherwise wouldn't. And a million-per isn't exactly a low amount, it just seems that way because his ERBs go into the tens of millions.
If you haven't checked out Epic Rap Battles, give them a look. That's a channel you can pass a lot of time on.