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'Old Town Road' dominance ushers in a new era for the music industry

Katie Krzaczek
Associate Editor

Lil Nas X just broke the record for the longest running No. 1 single on Billboard’s Hot 100, as “Old Town Road” enters its 17th week atop the chart.

“Old Town Road” has proven to be a streaming success story, and the rapper has capitalized on its popularity. The artist’s Spotify (SPOT) page currently lists five different remixes of the song.

The rise of streaming has allowed artists to experiment with how they operate within the music industry machine. Deals with major are no longer the norm, and by partnering with a distributor, any artist could upload music to Spotify, Apple Music (AAPL), Amazon Music (AMZN), or any of the other streaming platforms.

New York-based media rights attorney Henderson Cole told Yahoo Finance’s that labels are becoming more flexible in terms of the kinds of deals they cut, especially with new artists, because artists have much of the power now.

“Majors are accepting deals where they’re not owning the masters,” Cole said. “Part of that comes down to the fact that things are successful on streaming that wouldn’t be successful other places.”

Lil Nas X, who’s just 20 years old, surpassed the previous 16-week milestone first achieved by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men in 1995 and 1996 with "One Sweet Day."

"Despacito" by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, featuring Justin Bieber, came for the throne in 2017, but could only match and not surpass the decade-old record.

“Road” has dominated the charts for nearly five months now, and has prevented a number of music’s biggest stars from earning the title. Even Taylor Swift isn’t immune. Her last two singles “ME!” and “You Need To Calm Down” peaked at No. 7 and No. 9, respectively.

The original track featuring Billy Ray Cyrus has racked up nearly 550 million streams on Spotify, and 405.5 million on YouTube, when the three separate videos of the original track are added together. Lil Nas X released a new video to commemorate the 17-week milestone.

After “Road” originally went viral, Lil Nas X was reportedly pursued by a number of labels. He eventually signed with Sony’s (SNE), and released his first EP, “7,” through Columbia Records.

Lil Nas X bought the original beat that would become “Old Time Road” from a music production marketplace for $30, and has been vocal about ensuring credit is given to its creator, YoungKio.

While Lil Nas X’s success has proven that streaming is king in today’s music industry, things are slowing down for Spotify, which reports before the market opens on Wednesday.

In its Q2 earnings preview, Credit Suisse (CS) noted the streaming platform is seeing fewer new monthly active users in the U.S., and is expecting a 10% year over year decline in app downloads.

Katie is an associate editor at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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