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The Real Truth About This MrBeast Clone

YouTube may look better than Twitch to some streamers right now, but it's still primarily a place where wacky variety creators like MrBeast can outpace longstanding entertainers like PewDiePie. YouTubers like MrBeast or Unspeakable have built successful careers and massive followings by giving away thousands of dollars, filling their homes with ball pit balls, and goofing off in any inventive way they can imagine. Their wild stunts and silly pranks have worked so well that another YouTuber has decided to do, well, pretty much the exact same thing. 

Vladislav Andreyevich Bumaga, a YouTuber with over 40 million subscribers, is better known as A4, and he's become of the more controversial people on the platform. He's been called out by MrBeast and others for not just seemingly copying video ideas, but also outright stealing people's thumbnails — which has earned him millions of views.

Although MrBeast might have a shady side of his own, some people believe that what A4 has been doing for years goes beyond the pale, and what makes it all worse is that it's working extremely well for him. Come get to know the real truth about this MrBeast clone, who just so happens to be one of the top Russian-language YouTubers of all time.

He's almost been around as long as MrBeast

YouTube success doesn't come overnight. If we momentarily set aside the fact that many of A4's top videos have been accused of being blatant rip-offs, we can see that he's actually a contemporary of many of the biggest creators on the platform. A4 is just one year older than MrBeast, and the two of them developed an interest in YouTube content creation around the same time. MrBeast's main channel dates back to 2012, then A4 started his YouTube career just two years later.

A4's earliest videos might have been in a similar vein as other creators on YouTube, but they weren't direct copies of anyone else's content. He posted skits about being home alone, showed off what happens when Mentos meets Diet Coke, and found his own way to interact with his early followers. His channel blew up when he filmed a night spent inside a trampoline park in 2016, but despite having a strong start to his channel, it wouldn't take much longer before A4 appeared to turn to other YouTubers for video ideas.

He's one of the top Russian language YouTubers

A4 has been making content on YouTube for more than seven years, and in that time he's amassed a stunning following. His channel cracked 1,000 subscribers back in 2015. Not even two years later, he had broken the 100,000 subscriber mark, and since then he's managed to grow at an exponential pace. His main channel currently has more than 41 million subscribers.

Early on, A4 learned the benefit of jumping on trends as quickly as possible. After his channel really started taking off, A4 found himself in a position to capitalize on two of the internet's favorite things – "Fortnite" and money giveaways – by making a combo video. Like MrBeast, A4 has made giveaways a major part of his brand, and he's always kept his eye on the gaming scene, even becoming a "Minecraft" late adopter in 2019 to get in front of a new audience. Which makes sense, as all streamers have to stay on top of what's popular to keep their audience invested.

In 2020, A4 had a huge spike of new subscribers (via Social Blade). By April 2021 he had reached 30 million subscribers, and he added more than 10 million the following year. By summer 2022 he was reportedly the most popular Russian language channel on YouTube. A4 clearly isn't going to be slowing down anytime soon. He's got a way to go before he becomes one of the highest paid YouTubers, but if he keeps up his current pace he'll hit the top ten in just a few years.

He makes content for TikTok

Like any dedicated content creator, A4 hasn't limited himself to just a single platform. A year after starting his YouTube channel, A4 created an Instagram account that currently has more than seven million followers. Because A4's main focus has always been on video content, it shouldn't be too surprising that he's been giving TikTok as much of his attention as possible. In fact, A4 was on TikTok almost as soon as it became an option. He uploaded his first video in February 2017, right around the time that his YouTube channel hit 100,000 subscribers.

A4's TikTok account hasn't grown quite as quickly as his YouTube channel, but his follower count is still impressive. A4 has more than 11 million followers on TikTok, and his videos regularly get tens of millions of views, which means they're performing just as well as anything he posts on YouTube. His most popular videos feature him narrowly saving his friend from thrown objects or eating various snack foods incorrectly. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the best performing video on his account features someone else's meme being reenacted by a chef at a restaurant. 

He's also a musician

It's not uncommon for successful YouTubers to use their platform to launch other creative endeavors. It's not uncommon for successful streamers and content creators to also flex their musical talents. Like many before him, A4 has found that having a huge following means he also has a built-in audience for side projects, and so A4 has taken that as an opportunity to start his own music career.

As far back as 2017, A4 began testing the water with his musical abilities when he released a music video for a parody song called "Term Melts." In the video's description, A4 encouraged other YouTubers to make their own parodies to get in on the growing trend. Two years later A4 partnered with musical artist Katya Adushkina and rapped a verse on her song "FIRE" while also platforming the video on his channel. Just a few months later, A4 released his first original single: "Song about autumn."

A4's single didn't perform quite as well as the other songs that he worked on, but that did nothing to dissuade his enthusiasm for making music. A4 has since released a handful of tracks, and though creating music hasn't distracted from his video production down at all, it seems to be an area where A4 is truly interested in making content of his own, regardless of how it performs.

He has his own snack brand

Video monetization can only take a person so far, and most YouTubers find additional ways to make money off the success of their content. A4 has gone down a fairly typical path by creating his own branded merch and partnering with corporate sponsors to bring in extra money. His original merch line includes the kinds of hoodies, t-shirts, and hats that might be expected from any popular YouTuber. In fact, some YouTubers have pointed out that the general vibe of A4's merch seems to borrow from MrBeast as much of his videos.

On the sponsorship side of things, A4 has proven that he's willing to work with a wide variety of products, from Dirol chewing gum to Colgate mouthwash. A4 launched a partnership with Doritos in 2020, and it's possible that deal is what inspired him to pursue a whole new merchandising opportunity. Almost two years later he announced the launch of Lava Lava, his very own snack brand. Lava Lava makes chips and corn sticks, and unlike A4's other merch, the brand is available in physical stores throughout Russia. Any of the YouTuber's fans who live outside the country might have a difficult time getting their hands on his snacks, but if sales stay strong there's always the chance that Lava Lava will expand into new markets.

He's been dating Julia Godunova for years

YouTubers have to find a way to balance their personal life with the lives they lead on camera, and A4 is no exception. A4 puts his personality front-and-center in all his videos, but at the same time, he's managed to keep many details about his personal life off camera. Occasionally he'll make a personal post on Instagram, like when he bought his mom a car in 2021.

One area where fans do have some deeper insight into A4 is his love life. He and fellow YouTuber Julia Godunova have been dating for over five years now. A4's first post about Godunova came in February 2017, and she's since been a regular figure on his Instagram. Godunova has also been featured in some of his YouTube videos, like when the two of them spent 24 hours finding out what it's like to have a baby.

Julia Godunova has her own YouTube channel that boasts more than 2 million subscribers, and her style is dramatically different from A4's, posting everything from travel vlogs to early looks at her own musical singles. Where A4's videos are typically focused solely on a particular prank or stunt, Godunova often gets much more personal with her fans, and her videos tend to be quite long, often running past the thirty minute mark. Together, A4 and Godunova hit all the YouTube bases.

MrBeast isn't the only person to accuse A4 of stealing

For a long time now, A4 has been making up for a shortage of original content by yanking video ideas from other prominent YouTubers. MrBeast called A4 out on Twitter, and JustDustin quickly backed up MrBeast's claim by posting screenshots of A4 apparently stealing his content as well. What takes the A4 controversy to a whole new level is that he also apes the thumbnails of his English-language competitors, often just photoshopping his face over theirs in the image. JustDustin argued, "Thumbnails are intellectual property, and this should be considered copyright."

A4 hasn't limited himself to only "borrowing" videos from MrBeast and JustDustin, either. In July 2019, Unspeakable posted a video in which he filled a moving truck with plastic balls, and in November 2020 A4 posted his own version. All the way back in 2018, Papa Jake posted a box fort prison escape video, and four years later A4 used the concept for his own channel.

YouTube hasn't taken any official action to discourage A4 for stealing other people's videos and thumbnails, but the company may not have to. Some YouTubers have found their own way to make a small jab back at A4. Ben Azelert decided to give A4 a taste of his own medicine by copying A4's 24-hour superhero video and thumbnail. The move didn't prompt a response from A4, but it did give viewers a good laugh.

Fans rallied around MrBeast's call out

A4 has been copying videos on YouTube for quite a while, but people really began taking notice after MrBeast called him out on Twitter in February 2021. MrBeasts fans have been keeping an eye on A4 ever since, making updates on Reddit whenever he steals a new video. Some have even put their considerable deepfake skills to use by editing MrBeast's face onto one of A4's videos as a way to get back at A4's regular thumbnail thievery.

One YouTube channel has remained particularly committed to tracking A4's misdeeds. TheAsherShow has an entire playlist of videos tracking the different videos that A4 has taken from other creators. The show also offers updates on how various YouTubers have decided to respond to A4.

The negative attention being focused on A4 isn't just coming from English-speaking YouTube fans, either. A Russian-speaking Redditor made a post to thank MrBeast and other YouTubers for bringing attention to A4's bad practices. The post even earned a response – in Russian – from the official MrBeast staff. A4 might continue copying videos from big creators, but he won't be doing it without some degree of backlash from the broader community.

He may also borrow marketing strategies

These days it seems that much of A4's YouTube content is based on the work of other people. Recycling video ideas and photoshopping thumbnails are definitely A4's worst offenses in the eyes of fellow content creators, but some people believe he might also be taking some behind-the-scenes ideas from people like MrBeast.

Back in March 2022, MrBeast went on Joe Rogan's podcast for a long form interview. While talking with Rogan, MrBeast explained one of his most inventive YouTube strategies: He pays voice actors who speak languages other than English to dub over his videos, so he can broadcast his content to a global audience. Of course, some MrBeast fans have joked that the popular creator started his Russian-language channel to appeal to A4's core audience.

Oddly enough, just days after the episode aired, A4 opened a new, English-language channel. The first video posted on it was an edit of A4's box fort prison escape room (which he originally copied from Papa Jake). However, it seems that A4 isn't as committed to the multilingual strategy as MrBeast. As noted by TheAsherShow, the English-language channel is somehow worse than the primary one in terms of execution. Only one other video has made its way to the channel so far, but it's an interesting sign of how A4 is keeping tabs on his YouTube competition. 

A4 hasn't offered a strong defense

Despite all the outrage coming his way, A4 has done his best to avoid angry MrBeast fans and has refused to address any of the controversy on his channel. Instead he's forging ahead, posting new videos at a truly astounding pace – sometimes as many as four or five per week. A4 has never been one to get into real life concerns on YouTube, so that in and of itself isn't too surprising.

A4 did, however, decide to post an Instagram story about the issue, and one Twitter user managed to share a screenshot for anyone who missed it. In the post, A4 wrote off taking thumbnails and videos by saying he still puts in work to photoshop the images and film his own version of whatever he's decided to copy. He also argued that people are better off watching his content than the original because "I do it 10K times better."

All in all, the response isn't what many angry fans and YouTubers might have wanted to hear. At the same time, the post doesn't seem to have damaged A4's standing among his own fans. A4 might be running the biggest clone channel on YouTube, but it looks like he's here to stay.