Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road has stood its ground as the longest-running Billboard No 1 of all-time. And who would have thought that an artist who was unheard of, could surpass all odds and break this massive record! Lil Nas undoubtedly has some remarkable marketing secrets up his sleeve. Here’s how this genre-defying hit blew up the internet and made critics reel in wonder.

The song sparked racial controversy

The music industry was skeptical of Old Town Road fitting into the country genre. Racial power struggle has always been a hot and sensitive topic. The slightest trigger can set off a wildfire of reactions and Lil Nas knew exactly where to poke the stick. In a country genre that is predominated by “white cowboy stereotypes”, this bold hybrid song weaves wild country imagery with hip-hop symbols. Old Town Road attempts to redefine country music and make it more racially inclusive. 

Lil Nas maxed out on his social media strategy

Before releasing Old Town Road, Lil Nas made Facebook comedy videos and ran a meme Twitter account. He mastered the social media platforms to understand exactly what his audience wanted and go viral.

Lil Nas promoted memes and challenges to promote Old Town Road

Lil Nas created the “Yeehaw Agenda” meme appropriating cowboy fashion. The memes were picked up by trollers and gained traction as the “Yeehaw Challenge”. People posted funny videos of themselves transforming from their normal attire to a full-blown cowboy costume.

Old Town Road leveraged TikTok’s virality

Old Town Road kickstarted virality on TikTok, an app predominantly used by teenagers to create short 15 second video renditions and memes of popular songs and movie clips. TikTok was growing in popularity when Old Town Road was released. The song is short, has simple beats and catchy loops – perfectly optimised for TikTok videos. In an age where vines and quick consumption videos are blowing up to meet the short attention span of today’s Gen Z and Gen Alpha audience, it’s becoming extremely important to specially optimise video formats to succeed on trending platforms.

Lil Nas chose a genre that has less competition

Lil Nas listed Old Town Road as a country record on SoundCloud and iTunes. The competition on the country charts was less when compared to rap songs that were taking over the world. So, Old Town Road immediately gained traction on the country charts and had more chances of going viral as a country record.

Old Town Road was remixed featuring powerful influencers

A remix of Old Town Road was released with country star Billy Ray Cyrus, rapper Young Thug and viral yodelling champ Mason Ramsey. These powerful influencers represented different genres Lil Nas wanted to tap into. This strategy attracted a massive audience base from the country, hip hop and yodelling genres.


Lil Nas focused on a long term strategy

Though it has been over a year since Old Town Road released, the song is still the talk of the town. Lil Nas released his music videos in succession to ensure the buzz didn’t die out. He released Old Town Road independently in December 2018, following a remix with Billy Ray Cyrus in April 2019 and went on to release another remix with Young Thug and Mason Ramsey on July 2019.


Lil Nas knows exactly how to play his cards right and win over his audience. We sure won’t be surprised if he comes out with another jaw-rattling hit in the coming days. 

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(Header image credit: Lil Nas X via Instagram)

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