If you are buried deep into the brony fandom like a good amount of us here on EQD are, you have probably run into a boatload of drama broiling about content creators taking advantage of their volunteers. I'm not going to name any names or point out any specific projects yet, as information is fluctuating and filled with misunderstandings and general rumor mongering, but I do think the subject overall needs to be addressed. And why not have fun with it while we do?
Since the dawn of the fandom way back in 2010, people have done their absolute best to make a name for themselves in pony. Whether they draw horses, run radios, write fanfics, or organize mini communities, it's only natural for someone to want to be acknowledged for what they accomplish. This has lead to the wonderful joke that is "Horse Fame", the ultimate goal for everyone in pony!
...Or is it? What can "Horse Fame" bring? Are there negatives? Time to EDITORIALIZE.
Go get it below!
What is HORSE FAME?
Horse Fame as a concept really doesn't have a specific set of requirements. What makes someone "horse famous"? Is there a cutoff point in Youtube, deviant art, or Twitch sub count? Do you need to make mad brony bucks? Do show staff count? We will probably never answer any of these, as everyone has different goals in terms of how big their fan bases can get. Some are perfectly fine with a healthy group of a few hundred loyal fans, while others absolutely demand hundreds of thousands of mindless zombies on Youtube begging for their every word or video and will do everything in their power to get there. pony WORLD DOMINATION is the only real goal in that case.
My take on horse fame is anyone that can influence a relatively large group (1000+) of people with the content they create, be it a video praising an episode or an incredible drawing that ends up everywhere. Significantly impacting peoples lives, be it for good or evil, is something the famous both inside and outside the brony fandom accomplish, and why I'm even bothering to write this.
What do you mean by evil?! Aren't all horse famous people incredibly benevolent and amazing?!
When I look at society as a whole, I like to think that everyone has a good side. Even the worst of the worst can shine at least sometimes. As someone who has largely been a part of online anonymous communities my entire life, there really does seem to be an activatable "switch" on everyone to swap them from one side to the other. It's natural for us as a society to want to fit in, and nothing does it better than people liking you for the good things you do.
Unfortunately, we all have our bad, greedy, and jealous sides. It's like an internal bees nest that gets battered with a wrecking ball when someone is suddenly flooded with money, power, and fame. The rise can quickly go to their head and influence their decisions in a way they never thought they originally would.
We've seen this a lot over the years in pony. Some people end up overwhelmed with the huge workload that horse fame brings. Others are blinded by the Youtube money their channel suddenly generates and burnout trying to keep the train rolling. Sometimes, these people go completely insane, and a lot of times, they drag people in with them.
This leads me to the MAIN subject of the editorial:
Avoid being taken advantage of by the horse famous!
It can't be denied; in ponyland, the horse famous have a pretty significant amount of power over the masses. It's a common mindset that working with popular people will, in turn, make you popular, and it's completely true. This is actually a really good way to do it. Networking with fellow creators or runners of big projects and having them introduce your work to their audience is an excellent way to become known, but only if it is done right.
When diving into this world, be absolutely sure that your name and credit is right up there in the spotlight. This is the disconnect between various Youtube channels out there. At the fundamental core of how things work, the channel that uploads the video is going to be, BY FAR, the most benefited by it. How many people do you think read the description or credits, then actively search for people within? The number is tiny compared to the amount that blindly click "subscribe" and hope for more.
If something is going to be uploaded to someone's personal Youtube channel, make sure your name is somewhere visible in the actual content. A good example is the recent Doors 2 animation, where everyone's unique style is heavily credited and even celebrated. The other alternative is to do things for a "studio", and share in the fame under a common name, which we see in projects like the Silly Filly Studios. Just be wary of a single person taking all the credit and slapping you on the end.
The majority of "jobs" in ponyland are completely volunteer based. While a channel with 500k subs does make money, it's rarely enough to do anything other than support the person running it. Even less so on the website side where ad revenue is tiny in comparison. If you take a "job" on one of these platforms, be mindful of deadlines but do not let it, or the person running it, consume your life. A little bit of horse fame isn't worth a heart attack when you aren't being compensated.
A lot of horse famous people might not even be aware that they are doing it, and bringing it up helps them figure out a good path going forward. If that doesn't work, straight up quitting sends a powerful message to the more stubborn "bosses", as most aren't capable of what you do to make up for the loss in a member. It will save people in the future from going through what you did, or may even have them invite you back with different, more flexible terms.
The power of horse influence, brigading, and the dark side of claiming e-fame
Brigadier General Great and Powerful Trixie reporting for duty!
The analysis community is a good example of popular people having a huge amount of "horse influence" on the fandom. Episodes that would have been relatively well loved years ago are now shredded into oblivion as every single little thing is nitpicked away. This shifts the fandom (who now watch future episodes with the same critical mindset) into driving the poor show creators absolutely nuts. Criticism breeds more critics, and it's very easy to dislike something you previously liked if someone important tells you its not great.
Now for the dark side, and people to watch out for here.
Unfortunately, one of the most exploited ways to draw in the crowds is to be controversial. Why do you think we see such a rise in videos of people playing some random game in the background with zero effort while talking about fellow youtubers? It's super easy to become famous by reporting on. and calling people out. "Brigading" gives you an army of people that fly your banner into battle. A youtuber whom I will call "X", regularly sends his armada into the comment sections of other videos, and all of them fly the flag of "I CAME FROM X CHANNEL!!" This is the ultimate in sneaky advertising.
From an EQD perspective, our most popular posts of all time were "Ponies in lingerie" and "Cupcakes". We've since deleted those and stopped doing stuff like that way back in 2011, but there is no doubt that they drew a lot of people in. If I titled this article with the actual drama going on right now, it would be 5x as popular.
Lets not assume that is the only way though! In fact, I'd consider it the bad way for the long term.
You will most likely find a much happier fan base later in your e-career, with fewer burned bridges and drama, if you go the route of a positive creator. Make things that people enjoy without bringing people down in the process. Focus on your own quality without bashing others or aiming for the lowest common denominator. Some of the best Youtube channels out there are ones that are 100% positive, with absolutely no drama and a loving crowd of watchers that continues to grow rapidly over time.
Horse fame is a side effect, not the goal!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be well loved for what you do. The internet has opened a new path for creativity, and given people a way to actually support themselves through it. Horse Fame may be something that is less influential than it used to be in terms of propelling yourself into a successful online presence elsewhere, but it's still viable. A ton of people have gotten opportunities outside of pony for what they do here, from musicians to analyzers. If anything, you gain valuable experience just trying to learn something new and entertain people.
At the end of the day, giving people something to look forward to and improving lives is what the best creators on the internet are really accomplishing. They grow as artists, and their fanbase grows as they improve. Success and "horse fame" comes along with that, as fans become more willing to follow and contribute, be that through Patreon, turning off adblock on Youtube or their website, or just being active and keeping them motivated with compliments.
In the end, create for you. Create what you want to create. The more passionate you are at something, the faster you will improve and draw in a crowd.
And with that, I think we've covered a good amount of it. I might do a followup on this with some more depth later on, but I'm already passing the TL;DR cap.
On a final note, we are at the very beginning of a golden age in creativity. Be ever vigilant of what is to come, and people that take advantage in an bad way, but celebrate and enjoy the ones that make this era awesome! The internet is a chaotic and crazy place, with millions of personalities and ideas all clashing and collaborating at any given moment. It's not always going to be perfect, but when it does, things are absolutely incredible.