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Marketing Students Will One Day Study Lil Nas X’s ‘Montero’

If you’re active on any form of social media, you’ve seen Lil Nas X marketing his debut album Montero all over your Twitter feed and TikTok FYP — and it’s not a mere coincidence. Lil Nas X has been plotting the greatest marketing scheme of the century for the past several months at least, plugging his new album. He’s undoubtedly succeeded, and probably even exceeded his own expectations.

The 22-year-old rapper, whose full name is Montero Lamar Hill, first exploded into the music industry back in 2019 with his hit single “Old Town Road” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. The song challenged boundaries within the country music scene and was massively successful, even rising to Number One on the Billboard Top 100 in April 2019. But the pressure of following that success was another story. Everyone told Lil Nas X that that was it: he was destined to only be a one hit wonder. His time was up. 

Lil Nas X proved them all wrong.

Following the triumph of “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X was strategic in his release of only singles for the next couple of years, building a slow anticipation for his debut album. Nobody knew he was already full steam ahead in his marketing campaign when he released the music video for “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” breaking records and sparking intense controversy among religious groups and right-wing politicians. Shortly after, Lil Nas X released “INDUSTRY BABY” featuring Jack Harlow, accompanied by a music video that took the internet by storm. One scene features a censored Lil Nas X dancing naked in front of other naked backup dancers. Fans erupted in mayhem, begging the rap singer to “post the uncensored version,” to which Lil Nas X delivered… kind of. He posted a seemingly “uncensored” version of the music video to YouTube, teasing his fans with clickbait. One user commented, “This man just finessed thousands of streams with the title 😂😂😂..”

But perhaps the biggest marketing move Lil Nas X made was pretending to be pregnant on social media to plug the “birth” of his new album Montero. The singer posted multiple videos to TikTok with a scarily realistic pregnant belly, even going so far as to host a makeshift baby shower to celebrate the approaching due date of his “firstborn child.” The internet ate it up when he posted a video in a hospital gown having “contractions.”

And so when Montero finally debuted on September 17, everyone on the internet and their mother already knew about it. That same day, the album was listed as Apple Music’s second-highest charting album.

How did he accomplish such a feat with his debut? He tuned in to what his fans were saying and what they wanted, planning his next move based on their input and reactions. He’s extremely active on all forms of social media, continually engaging with his fanbase and making them feel included in the process. This ultimately helps boost and promote his brand, especially given the rising prevalence and importance of social media marketing

Moreover, Lil Nas X isn’t afraid to turn heads or redefine boundaries both in his music and marketing strategies. He does what has never been done before — because correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think any other male musician has pretended to be pregnant to plug their new album. I can’t wait to see how he tries to top it with his secondborn; this is truly a case study in the making.

Zoë is a national contributing writer and was formerly a summer 2021 editorial intern at Her Campus. She is also a senior at Loyola Marymount University where she studies English and public relations. In her free time, Zoë can be found taking photos, reading, and going to cute (but overpriced) coffee shops.
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