For Lil Nas X, it all started with “Old Town Road,” his earth-shattering 2019 hit. Now, the song’s classic music video has entered rare territory, having just reached 1 billion views on YouTube (it’s at exactly 1,000,153,128 as of this post). According to data from kworb.net, the clip is just the 322nd music video to ever top a billion plays on the platform.
Nas had a celebratory reaction to the news, tweeting a photo of a woman at a party with a shirt reading “Old B*tches Winning” and writing, “WE DID IT!”
The official video isn’t the only “Old Town Road” clip with a high view count: The “Official Movie” has about 648 million plays and the audio of the Billy Ray Cyrus remix has about 580 million views of its own. In total, all the “Old Town Road” videos on Lil Nas X’s YouTube channel have about 2.4 billion views.
Just how uncommon is it for a music video to hit a billion views on YouTube? Well, let’s look at some data (which may not be completely accurate but is good enough for the purposes of this thought exercise). Per a July post from Earthweb, there are about 800 million total videos on YouTube. In 2019, Digital Music News noted that videos in the music category made up 5 percent of total YouTube videos in 2018. 5 percent of 800 million is 40 million. Not all of those 40 million are music videos, though, so let’s say (based on absolutely nothing) that just 1 percent of those 40 million videos are music videos, so 400,000. Of those, only 322 have hit a billion views, which is about 0.08 percent (or 8 percent of 1 percent).
Revisit the “Old Town Road” video below.