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  • Jack Loftus

NOTEWRTHY: How Lil Nas X Got So Popular

Welcome back to NOTEWRTHY,

Today, let’s talk about Lil Nas X, more specifically, how he gained popularity so quickly and successfully, using an ingenious marketing strategy.


I would be willing to bet that at least 75% of people who use the internet know who Lil Nas X is. He blew up out of nowhere in late 2018 with the release of his now iconic song “Old Town Road,” a song which now has over 860,000,000 streams on Spotify. And a few months later, he released the even more popular remix of the song featuring Hannah Montana’s father, Billy Ray Cyrus, which is sitting at an astonishing 1.37 billion streams on Spotify. But how did these songs get so big? What was the reason that these songs collectively have over 2 billion streams? Well, the answer is actually really simple: a rapidly growing video-sharing platform by the name of TikTok.


Formerly known as musical.ly, the platform initially became popular as an app where people would dance to popular songs. While that is still a very common trend on the app, it has since diversified massively. But that’s not what we are here to talk about. We’re here to talk about how Lil Nas X used the app to propel himself to where he is today. TikTok, like pop music in general, has a formula for succeeding, a formula that Lil Nas used perfectly. He realized that because of the nature of the app, all he had to do was make a song that was easy to dance to, put it on the app, and people would eventually start using it. Lo and behold, he was right. The trackslow and easy-to-follow beat and lyrics made it easy to come up with moves that mimed the lyrics themselves, making it even easier for other people to make their own videos of them using the dance moves that others created. Popularity on the internet is very much an exponential growth when it comes to stuff like this, especially when larger creators use their music. With the eventual popularity he gained, he announced that he was making an EP that would feature the songs that had made him so popular. But was this the move?


Step One: Make a song.


Step Two: Post a video to TikTok with a small, but interesting clip of that song playing in the background. Be sure to ask in the caption or the video itself if you should release the song. (You’re going to anyway.)


Step Three: People start commenting in support and sharing the video with their friends. This leads to creators using the song in their videos, dancing or otherwise, meaning even more people are exposed to the song.


Step Four: After about a week or so, say that the song will release anywhere from about 1-2 weeks time.


Step Five: Release the song and watch it grow even further.


Lil Nas X also used this method with every single and remix he put out prior to the 2021 release of his debut album MONTERO, which is also his first name. And every time, without fail, the song would blow up. Two such songs are “Industry Baby ft. Jack Harlow” and “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name).” Both of these songs have amassed over 1.5 billion streams each, and are currently his 2nd and 3rd most popular songs on Spotify. What’s number one you may ask? “STAR WALKIN’,” a song he also used the above rollout method for, and also a song which was made in collaboration with Riot Games for the 2022 League of Legends Worlds event. My less-than-positive feelings for League of Legends aside, there’s no denying how popular the game is, and for Lil Nas X to be collaborating with a company like Riot is huge for anyone. Despite only being released at the end of September, the song already has almost 91,000,000 streams. Based on numbers alone, there’s no denying that this method has brought him massive success.


Despite being in the middle of a few controversies over the past few years, Lil Nas X has been insanely smart about how he markets himself and his music. Whatever project he ends up making next, I can say for sure I’ll be there to listen to it.

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