Four Marketing Lessons Artists Can Learn From Lil Nas X’s – ‘Old Town Road’

Lessons from the viral hit that you can apply to your music marketing

Lil Nas X has had the biggest song of the year so far. 10+ weeks at the top of the Billboard Top 100, global number 1’s and billions of streams.

A viral sensation.

There are a lot of lessons to be learnt here, and not just for the chart toppers. Some of the key factors of this songs success can be applied to any artist.

The Power of Collaboration outside of your genre

Collabs can be a very powerful tool for any artist as they allow us to ‘trade fans’ and reach new audiences. This effect is multiplied when the fanbases of each artist are completely different.

Lil Nas X managed to appeal to country, pop and hiphop fans with his song which features country star Billy Ray Cyrus. The official video took this a step further including cameos by various other celebrities from music and beyond.

A perfect collaboration can open you up to a whole new fanbase, be of huge benefit to both artists and of course make for some really interesting music. This does not just apply to a-list stars. Find artists who have a similar sized fanbase to yours a from a different genre and reach out to them by email or on social media. The results can be surprisingly effective.


Short is sweet

‘Old Town Road’ Is The Shortest #1 Single (usa) since 1965. Perfect for short-attention spans and streaming platforms.

Now I am not suggesting you should be cutting all your songs down, some songs really need the extra length to build but evidence suggests that songs under 3 minutes do perform better on streaming platforms. Just something to consider!



TikTok & Virality

‘Old Town Road’ has been a social media sensation spawning memes and millions of impressions while trending on TikTok and Instagram.

The power of influencers for music should not be underestimated. Consider how you can get your next song played in vlogs, TikTok videos or used in other viral content.

Lil Nas X’s social media is a fine example of an artist who knows his audience and crafts content that will resonate with them. Check out his Instagram page and you will quickly see what I mean.



A hit before a hit

‘Old Town Road’ was doing millions of streams per day BEFORE it was signed and became a global hit. In fact it’s been recently reported that he turned down a million dollar offer from Amuse before finally signing to Columbia Records.

This goes to show it’s more than possible to have a hit without a major label behind you. Keep the faith, keep pushing and be patient!



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