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Meet YoungKio, the Gen Z producer of Old Town Road

The 19-year-old crafted the beat for Lil Nas X’s smash hit and sold it to him for $20.

It takes a whole lot of talent, luck, and style to get noticed in the music industry as a producer – but it could happen to anyone.

Thanks to the availability of laptops and relatively cheap software, all of us can have a go at chopping up samples and cranking out the latest trap banger beat. The next Kanye West is probably sat in a bedroom somewhere on FL Studio as we speak.

All of these people making music has lead to sites cropping up that serve as a marketplace for beat makers and artists. Producers can chuck their work online for a price, usually ranging from free to $100, and aspiring artists are then able to purchase them.

YoungKio is a 19-year-old from the Netherlands who was doing just that on Beat Stars, an international website and app that anyone can use. He got into beat making at the age of 16, and initially made the country-fused trap track that became ‘Old Town Road’ as a throwaway. Lil Nas X bought the song – though YoungKio was unaware for a while – and began to make waves on SoundCloud. Once YoungKio found the track on TikTok and realised it was a beat of his, he hit up Lil Nas X and the two have been working together since.

It’s a match made in heaven. Or on Beat Stars, whichever sounds more romantic.

What makes YoungKio’s story so inspiring is that he was an amateur beat-making teen that made it big. Sure, you need that raw talent and knack for the craft, but any of us can create waves across the industry with the right luck and a good sound.

Social media, particularly apps such as TikTok and Instagram, allows for songs and beats to hit millions of ears without the need for a middleman. Record labels be damned – Chance The Rapper, BROCKHAMPTON, and Frank Ocean all hit the big time without signing contracts from big corporations.

Speaking to billboard at the start of the year, YoungKio said that he reckons it was ‘the TikTok memes that really boosted it’, and gives much of the credit to the viral memes that surround the song. He’s also had a ton of big names (though he can’t mention who) approach him since ‘Old Town Road’s’ success, so we’re likely to see him hit up the charts again very soon.

He says that he continues to send beats to Lil Nas X. ‘I want him to keep being successful’ YoungKio explained. ‘I want the songs that he brings out now to hit like that’. Given all the remixes we’re continuing to get, I’d put my money on ‘Old Town Road 2’ dropping eventually.

So, if you’ve been thinking about making your own music, instrumentals, or beats, you should absolutely go for it.

Nobody knows where the next record-breaking song will come from, but there’s every chance it could be from your laptop – as long as it can handle the straight fire you’ll be cooking up.