In one of the latest music videos from 27-year-old Canadian musician Alexander Gumuchian, also known as bbno$ or baby no money, the early 2000s planking trend is seeing a nostalgic resurgence.
In the PowerPoint-style official music video for his new song “still,” photos transition on the screen of Gumuchian defying gravity by planking with his head in a toilet, in the arms of a construction worker, on the beach, under a bus. His fans also chime into the internet nerdiness, with photos of them planking on their favorite public landmarks.
“Still” is slow, sad, and features Gumuchian’s singing voice, unlike his most of his other music. He’s known for upbeat, fast-paced, comedic, chaotic, braggadocio-filled rap with viral hits like “Lalala” or “edamame.” But even with his saddest song “still,” funniness is at the heart of much of its social media promotion.
Comedic TikTok videos using the audio from “still” litter Gumuchian’s page (@bbnotiktok), which has over 2.8 million followers. Trending takes on the song include not only planking, but jokes about emotional moments and a weird trend where Gumuchian and his fans gaze into the sunset with the caption “boobs.”
In an SXSW music showcase hosted by SoundOn and TikTok on March 15, Gumuchian’s performance reflected his frenetic, silly, at times random and surrealist signature style—with Gumuchian and his co-stars decked out in minions costumes, clips from Planet Earth playing in the background under “bbno$” in flaming Diablo–style text, and Gumuchian randomly handing out free cookbooks (written by his friend) to the crowd.
Backstage in an interview with Passionfruit, Gumuchian accredited his ability to traverse genres and delve into a new style of music to his dedicated fanbase, with many staying tuned for his funny, down-to-earth social media cadence.
“I’ve been able to curate a fanbase that is just accepting of anything I do, which is tight,” Gumuchian said.
Gumuchian’s online presence is an interesting hodgepodge of his interests, including a strong passion for gaming alongside his music. Gumuchian created gaming channels apart from his main social pages under the handle @bnnogames. While Gumuchian’s main social channels also have millions of followers, his gaming channels accumulated over 290,000 followers.
“Sitting in front of the computer is one of my favorite things to do. Streamers are very similar to musicians nowadays because they have to be so on the internet. And a lot of the time they’re just, like, funny. And I kind of gravitate towards funny things,” Gumuchian said.
Gumuchian said he grew up with an obsession with games like Diablo II, RuneScape, Super Smash Bros, World of Warcraft, Dota, and League of Legends. He said that as a kid, he would play for six, seven hours a day—much to the distress of his mother, who he said was trying to disconnect him from it all.
“I obviously was trying to revolt, and I found every single way possible to keep playing,” Gumuchian said. “Now, it’s like, if you play six, seven, 10 hours, you get to a pro-level, and you can literally make more money, be more successful, and have a full career.”
Gumuchian said he was so passionate about gaming he developed a recurring dream about a hack-and-slash game named Nox that much resembles his favorite game Diablo.
“I found it in a bin at a thrift shop. I bought it, played it, and then I lost the CD,” Gumuchian said. “I still can vividly picture what the game looks like. … I would just like run around and just die, but I just remember it vividly. I really still do that in video games. I’m not very good at them.”
Although he’s not a pro gamer, Gumuchian said he is a “product of the internet,” with a strong interest in and ability to adapt to internet culture. He’s developed a penchant for attracting collaborations with some of the strongest voices of the internet—with creators like streamer Mizkif, fellow gamer SMii7Y, political commentator Hasan Piker, and music reviewer Anthony Fantano.
“Love seeing bbno$ playing with creators I grew up with,” one fan commented under his latest YouTube collaboration with creators blarg, soup, and SMii7Y. “I found bbno$ from one of Kyroz‘s intro/outro songs, and I grew attached to his music since. Glad to see he’s playing with related creators.”
Gumuchian said while creators will often respond to his requests to collab, musicians tend to “keep to themselves” and not respond when he hits them up.
“I’ve felt like the YouTube-community-slash-streaming-content-creating community is way more accepting than a lot of the music community,” Gumuchian said. “Like, I’m weird, but musicians are weird. Really weird. … It’s very, like, transactional.”
Social media promotion has become synonymous with music careers and has undoubtedly changed with the rise of short-form videos on TikTok, with apps like YouTube, Snap, and Instagram soon following. Even Spotify’s CEO announced in 2023 it is aiming to redesign its platform to be a video feed that resembles TikTok.
TikTok has a propensity for quickly raising musicians from obscurity to viral fame and turning superstar hits into viral earworms. Influencers often get paid to promote songs in an attempt to get them trending.
This transformation of the music industry by TikTok aided Gumuchian’s career in many ways. To date, his most viral song “Lalala” has been used in over 10 million videos on TikTok. Another song by Gumuchian, “edamame,” has been used in over 670,000 videos.
When asked how he thinks TikTok changed the music industry, Gumuchian not-so-subtly hinted the question was old news, letting out a yawn. He specifically asked if we could spell out “~yawn~” in a quote.
“TikTok runs the music industry right now,” he said. “I don’t know what else to say about that.”
However, Gumuchian did elaborate. He said while he’s been blessed to have his music career propelled by his viral TikTok success, there are drawbacks. He described recovering from TikTok virality as an “uphill battle” that “reduces some artistic integrity.”
“Artists are having very short-lived careers because of TikTok,” Gumuchian said. “I’ve experienced extreme blow-up from TikTok, and it’s interesting because I feel like it’s demoralizing artists in some sense. Because it can be so sporadic and so quick, such a quick fire, and then die so fast.”
Music dominated SXSW, with the cross-over of the music world with the creator world more evident than ever before. As previously covered by Passionfruit, the schedule was filled with panels and events on artist authenticity and creator-driven music.
One panel in particular, with several industry leaders including T-Pain’s manager, urged creators not to try to go viral, noting that attempts at virality can quickly turn gimmicky. The panel also noted audiences are hungry to connect with artists beyond their music, and social media is now the prime avenue for connection outside of live events.
Virality is a blessing and a curse. Sometimes artists get lucky. Sometimes they’re equipped to ride the viral wave into a full-blown career.
Gumuchian appears to be drawn to social media for a variety of reasons, including his passion for gaming and online communities. He said he appreciates TikTok because it allows unique personalities to flourish—as it clearly has with his comedy-driven fan engagement strategy.
“You can be someone so different,” Gumuchian said. “And then, because the popularity of short-form social media is growing and growing, you can really expedite the process of people knowing you way faster.”