Ashnikko has a potty mouth.
Those with their fingers on the pulse of the world’s hottest new artists know this. TikTok’s most fervent users certainly know this. Even MBW knows this.
Take for example this line, from one particularly bold segment of the London-based rapper’s fast-growing track, STUPID, which is fuelling user activity on TikTok like crazy right now: “Fantasize about the p**sy power; think about me with your hands down your trousers.”
There’s plenty more where that came from in STUPID (especially from featured guest, Yung Baby Tate), a track which trashes the physical neediness of a young male suitor, in what may be the lewdest female empowerment anthem of the year.
With around two million TikTok uploads featuring the song to date, STUPID is now in contention of becoming a proper worldwide hit. The challenge for Ashnikko’s industry team? Converting her TikTok virality into a meaningful presence in the minds of her new fans.
That mission is off to a flying start. In the past seven days alone, STUPID has racked up more than 3 million Spotify plays, in addition to another 1.8m on Apple Music, according to Ashnikko’s management team at London and LA-headquartered Various Artists. Nearly another million have come on YouTube (across the track’s lyric video and static version).
In total, Stupid currently has 7.8m plays on Spotify, while its breakout popularity has also pushed two other Ashnikko tunes (Hi, It’s Me and Special) above the million-playcount on the platform.
Various Artists began managing Ashnikko three months ago, just as STUPID started to become the foundation for an initial spate of TikTok videos. David Bianchi, CEO of Various, says that the company first noticed the track’s appeal on the platform before it was “officially uploaded”.
“Honestly, we saw it [happen] totally organically like everyone else – fans made us aware of it,” he says. “The impact [on TikTok] was huge and very quickly it became a matter of days before it spread to other platforms.”
Bianchi says that the plan now is to keep ratcheting up the global popularity of the song across platforms, while aiming to broad the media support and exposure of the artist.
Says Bianchi: “Ashnikko is an artist in every sense of the word, and you can see by the mass of fan art and the level of fan interaction that this isn’t just going to be a TikTok thing. That being said, I think something being a ‘TikTok thing’ is going to become a core strategy for all of us going forward.”
Ashnikko could also become a big story for Parlophone, the London-based frontline record company owned by Warner Music Group. The label originally signed the North Carolina-born artist – real name Ashton Casey – on an EP-by-EP basis, before inking a longer-term deal in March this year. Ashnikko then released the Hi, It’s Me EP, featuring STUPID, in July.
Mark Mitchell, co-President of Parlophone, says STUPID really started catching fire on TikTok last month, when people began using its intro in their videos – before a handful of heavily influential TikTok-ers uploaded their own take, and things accelerated.
“What’s been fascinating about this is that traditionally TikTok has had a direct influence on YouTube numbers – maybe partly because we only had a lyric video up for the track – but in this instance, it’s [also] had a direct effect on audio streaming,” says Mitchell. “We were coming from a relatively small base, but within a week, we were doing 15-times the base level [of plays] on pretty much all platforms, and it’s gone way beyond that since.”
Ashnikko has now shot a full video for STUPID, says Mitchell, and has the backing of fellow WMG label Warner Records – run by Aaron Bay-Schuck and Tom Corson – in the United States.
“The effect [of TikTok] has been brilliant, but we’re realistic – there’s a long, long way to go until we can call this a hit,” adds Mitchell. “The benefit is that it’s accelerated her profile, not only amongst DSPs and media but to an expanded fanbase and the artist community.
“The impact hasn’t just been on STUPID; her social followers and other tracks have seen an uplift too. She’s such an identifiable artist – both sonically and visually – that it’s clear fans of the track will be drawn to seeing and hearing more and the numbers back that up.”
He continues: “As much as it’s critical to have a release plan nowadays, it’s becoming abundantly clear that everyone [also] needs to keep an eye way beyond this, and to stay nimble.
“There is no longer a ‘normal’ route to success. With so many outlets to fans nowadays, nothing can be ignored.”
Music Business Worldwide