“If you don’t know me I’m M to the B / Coming in hard, you better watch it Sophie…”
If those lyrics mean nothing to you, then you clearly aren’t an aficionado of the mid-2010s Blackpool grime scene, nor do you have a tweenage TikTok fan in your household.
The lyrics are from a 2016 diss track by young British rapper Millie B, who was part of that scene (famously documented by Noisey).
The song was uploaded to TikTok in late June this year, and was found by influencer Bella Poarch, who posted a lip-sync video in August. And then it went viral, with other TikTokers piling in.
“Bella’s following grew by approximately 2.2 million, and at last check we’re at nearly six million individual creations for it,” said TikTok UK’s head of music operations, Paul Hourican, at Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit Global online conference yesterday.
In fact, the total is now 6.3m videos, with Millie B herself joining TikTok recently to post her own version – and while its 3.7m likes so far is impressive, it’s got a way to go to catch Poarch’s 35.7m total.
This was one of several case studies cited by Hourican to show how TikTok is working for and with artists at all levels, from emerging acts to the likes of BTS, Dua Lipa and David Guetta / Sia.
He also said that in the UK alone, TiKTok’s top 10 songs of the summer generated 6.5bn video views between the start of June and mid-August.
Among the artists praised by Hourican: British artist Cat Burns, who’s built a following of more than 640,000 followers on TikTok as her lead platform; Nina Nesbitt, who he said has made some “incredible” videos focusing on music production and what inspires her; and Rosaliá.
He also cited German artist Zoe Wees, who built a 418,000-strong following on TikTok that has helped her reach new listeners on streaming services too.
“Zoe spent a lot of time replying back to comments and creating videos on TikTok and really getting to know her audience,” said Hourican. “You’re seeing that more and more in the success of her music.”
He also talked about rapper Loredana, who used TikTok as the springboard for a number one single in Germany with her track ‘Du Bist Mein’. “And to complete the circle, in her official video she used a lot of the TikTok videos that were created on the platform.”
“We’re seeing TikTok more and more across all our [music] partners becoming an A&R facilitator. Artists still feel they have somewhere new, fresh and exciting where they can present themselves,” said Hourican.
As one last example, he talked about Girl In Red, and the fan-led campaign that’s sprung up around the phrase ‘Do you listen to Girl In Red?’ – “a way of asking someone in a very sensitive and discreet way what their sexuality is” – both on TikTok and elsewhere.
“Our users have really taken to Girl In Red, and the amazing artist that she is, and remixing that in a way that has become popular in the common language,” said Hourican.