Benny and Rafi Fine are the closest thing YouTube has to Steve Levitan and Chuck Lorre, two of the most successful TV showrunners around.
They operate several successful channels — none bigger than their eponymous one and its 5.57 million subscribers. Yet unlike most of the video portal's biggest stars, they rarely appear in their shows.
Like their wealthier TV brethren, they produce, direct and run the business — with occasional cameos in their own shows.
When it came time for the Fine Brothers (left) to launch "MyMusic," they took inspiration from Levitan's "Modern Family" — but for all the wrong reasons.
"We were frustrated with all the mockumentaries on TV, which were so rampant because of the success of 'The Office,'" Benny told TheWrap on Tuesday as the second season began. "It's not real; you watch and ask why is there even a crew there."
Their mockumentary revolves around a music label where all the characters are named after their favorite music genres – metal, dubstep and hip-hop (but he doesn't actually like hip-hop).
TheWrap spoke with Benny Fine about the upcoming season, the flaws of multi-camera TV and how he's going to trick music fans.
Why did you decide to make a mockumentary?
The primary reason for this project was to create this complete immersive universe that doesn't break the fourth wall, to take transmedia to a new level.
A mockumentary is supposed to be real, and we were frustrated with mockumentaries on TV, which are so rampant because of the success of "The Office."
It's not real. You watch and ask why is there even a crew there. They never set it up in the narrative. You have a documentary crew following families for reasons we don't understand.
Was there a show that inspired you?
The U.K. version of "The Office" is old inspiration for us. We also learned a lot from the winks through the fourth wall, addressing the fact that they are on camera.
Watching "Modern Family" and the U.S. "Office," we would say this doesn't make sense. How does that person just show up and have a mic so we hear them. We incorporate a lot of that into the show, play with the mockumentary format and satire the flaws.
You have characters named Metal, Scene and Hip-Hop. How did you settle on those and how will you expand?
The first time around we were trying to capture the breadth of music subcultures in late 2011-early 2012 – dubstep being such a big thing, scene kids being around. Things always ebb and flow. Last season to this one, we have added a new character – country. That was a response to viewers saying what they wished they could see.
This second season will air on your main channel instead of the MyMusic channel. Do you worry that movie MyMusic's main show off the channel will hurt its viewership?
We consider our main channel like a TV network and all the staple shows should be in one place. The hit shows build off each other and our main channel is the hub where all this stuff lives. We have 10 times the subscribers on TheFineBrothers, and MyMusic can build up a fan base from folks over there. There will be more attention paid to all of what MyMusic is doing.
What did you learn from season 1?
It showed that long-form content does work [on YouTube].
[The Fine Bros. released episodes of less than 10 minutes but then packaged them every few weeks into what they called "sitcom episodes."]
We repurposed content fans had already seen and all of them have at least 100K views and some have way more. People watch the sitcom episodes when they had not seen season 1 and binge watched six TV episodes like a regular TV show.
How are you building out MyMusic outside of the main show?
There will be four ancillary shows on the MyMusic channel and we'll be updating an entire blog with up-to-the-minute music news. You can visit it like BuzzFeed or Pitchfork and get album reviews. It's all as part of the sitcom experience, written by the characters.
MyMusic has over 250,000 people following characters across their sites. Even on hiatus, people have been interacting with characters and so we're trying to think about what's next.
No one has real names, so we hid them across various areas of social media to find them and we'll continue that this season. We'll do something in the middle of the season I don't want to reveal at this moment.
At the beginning of the "MyMusic," a character says the record label will change the way people find music on the web. Though it's a mockumentary, is that the goal?
It came true somewhat last year and there's more chance to grow it this year. This blog is just another step into trying to see what kind of a brand we can build away from just the sitcom.
We look at MyMusic as the future of the sitcom. What more can you do with the content?
We'll be reporting music news every week and have real bands coming and performing on MyMusic interacting with the fictional cast as through they were real.
With the show being more known and on the main channel, we hope people come across a MyMusic article and not realize they are reading something from a fictional sitcom character.