Lil Nas X Case Study: From Couch to Breaking Mariah Carey’s Record in Just 5 Months

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Have you heard of Lil Nas X?

This rapper went from broke to selling out concerts seemingly overnight.

The questions are, how did he achieve this success so quickly, and can you use some of his techniques to launch your own business into the stratosphere in just 5 months?

Lil Nas X was a college dropout sleeping on his sister’s couch. His bank balance was less than zero, meaning he owed overdrafts and fines to his bank. His prospects were terrible and no one would bet he would be anywhere in 5 months’ time, much less breaking Mariah Carey’s record for the most consecutive weeks at number 1 on the charts.

Most musicians, artists and even many entrepreneurs take entirely the wrong approach to their work. They spend all their time creating and little to no time promoting and marketing. They think if their product is good enough then it will sell by itself, but that simply isn’t true.

When Lil Nas X dropped out of college to pursue music, he spent the majority of his time on Twitter making friends. He discovered that posting memes won him followers, and in no time he had 30,000 new followers.

What’s this? A musician who spends far more time on Twitter posting memes than making music? That’s right. As an online marketer you’ll find that building an audience pays far more than creating the perfect product. After all, once you have the audience, you can sell them affiliate products if you don’t have your own yet.

Back to Lil Nas X. His plan was to use these followers to promote his music. But he quickly ran into a problem. In his words, “I’d post a funny meme and get 2,000 retweets. Then I’d post a song and get 10.”

This is where a lot of artists and entrepreneurs might say that Twitter doesn’t work, but Nas got creative. He stopped tweeting music links and started writing a song he could promote through memes. As he says, “It had to be short. It had to be catchy. It had to be funny.”

It’s all about giving people what they want rather than what you would like them to have. Nas wanted them to have his songs, but his followers wanted short, catchy and funny instead.

As a result, he made Old Town Road. Nas paired it with a video of a dancing cowboy and shared it with his followers.

When this video went viral, Nas knew what to do next. He made more short videos with the Old Town Road tune and the full song linked underneath.

The views started piling up and Nas went from a completely unknown artist to a rising star.

Next, he moved from Twitter to TikTok and then onto Billboard’s country music charts. “Wait,” you’re thinking, “Old Town Road isn’t a country song.”

No, it’s not, but the country music charts are less competitive than other categories. Again, Nas was thinking like a marketer, listing the song as country in order to get it to the top of the charts and get the free publicity.

A week later Billboard removed the song for not being country. As they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity, and Billboard’s decision turned Old Town Road into a national talking point. Two weeks later it was number 1.

Did Nas stop there? Of course not. Next, he began creating remixes with some of music’s biggest names.

Billboard has a loophole whereby remix plays count towards the original song’s chart placement. With each remix millions more streamed the song, locking Old Town Road onto the number one space on the charts.

17 weeks later Mariah Carey’s record for most consecutive weeks at number 1 was shattered.

Remember, just 5 months earlier Nas was sleeping on his sister’s couch with a negative balance in his bank account.

5 months. What at first seemed impossible now seems simple as pie.

There was no luck involved here and no great skill. Anyone can make funny, short memes and videos that go viral. True, you might not be a musician but that doesn’t matter. Figure out what people will share with others in your niche and give them lots of that to grow your followers.

A few marketing tips we can take from Nas:

Make your product easy to find:

Nas knew that people watching the video would search for the full song. That’s why he changed the song title on YouTube and SoundCloud to include the lyric from the viral video, “I got the horses in the back.”

He also posted on the subreddit, NameThatSong to get ranked on Google. This made it easy for anyone who was searching from the video to find the song.

Jump in and take action:

Nas didn’t get lucky. Things didn’t just happen for him. He made things happen. He didn’t wish people would forward his songs; he found a way to make people WANT to share the song with others.

Market to people the way they want to be marketed to:

People want to share short and funny, so that’s what he gave them. He wrote a song that he knew would be infinitely shareable. Some musicians will no doubt say that Nas “sold out” to commercialism, but if you want your music to be heard or your product to be sold, you had darn well better find a way to get it to the people.

Play by the rules to win:

Old Town Road is shorter than most songs because he didn’t include the last chorus. This made listeners replay the song to hear the chorus again.

A ‘stream’ doesn’t count as a stream unless it’s streamed for over 30 seconds. Would you like to guess how long the chorus is? Yup, just over 30 seconds. By making a small change but still following the rules he was able to nearly double his streaming listens.

Anything is possible, including massive success in a ridiculously short time

Would you bet that someone living on a couch with zero money could unseat Mariah Carey in just 5 months? And if he can do that, what are you capable of achieving?

Going viral is indeed something you can do:

They like to say that if you put out enough great content, sooner or later some of it might (MIGHT) go viral. It sounds like winning the lottery, doesn’t it?

But what if you engineered your content to go viral? As you can see, it’s already been done, so why not do it yourself? Study your market. See what goes viral. Analyze why it goes viral. And then take appropriate action.

Build the audience first:

It’s great to create the best ever, biggest and most spectacular product ever engineered. But if you have no one to sell it to, does it even matter?

Build your audience first, observe what they want and then give it to them. I know this sounds backwards, but it’s the surest way to success, even if you fail.

What do I mean by that?

Let’s say your niche is online marketing. You build an audience of 50,000 people on social media, through your blog and on your email list.

You create that biggest, best ever product and offer it to your audience, but the reception is mediocre. You sell maybe $5000 or $10,000 worth, which is a nice payday but nowhere near what you hoped for.

But guess what… your greatest asset isn’t that profit you made or the product you built – it’s the AUDIENCE you have.

Because you can continue to market to the audience over and over and over and over again with all sorts of affiliate products and future products that you create yourself.

The product might have made you several thousand dollars, but it’s the audience that will make you rich.

Build the audience first and you cannot fail.

Rushed for time? CLICK HERE to download
this post as PDF to read at your leisure


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