Nashville has been nicknamed “Guitar Town” for almost a century because of the instrument’s importance in songwriting, its twang, and nowadays, its rock-influenced crunch. But a guitarist has succeeded not to be a part of it all, but to approach the guitar from a calmer, more melodic place, while using the tools of the internet to create a successful full-time career.
Acoustic guitarist Lance Allen’s biggest claim to fame might be his reputation as the guy whose original solo guitar tracks received a staggering 100,000,000+ streams online. It averages 400,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone. By persistently and consistently taking advantage of the ability to post music and videos, build an online fan base, reach out to digital decision makers and more, Allen has built a following that most musicians. would envy. He also developed other income opportunities with physical CD sales, live performances, studio production, Skype lessons and more. But that wasn’t his plan when he came to Nashville nearly two decades ago, before those options even existed.
“My idea was to come to Nashville and be a session musician,” Allen said by phone from his home in Rutherford County. “I wanted to come to Nashville and play sessions, that’s why I went to MTSU and studied the recording industry, and did a lot of recording sessions during that time. I played and wrote with Chris Young while I was at MTSU, it’s a big deal now. I was much more in the country music scene at the time, but I have since changed. I realized how difficult it was to get into that. But I just found my place in the world with the guitar.
Allen regularly releases new instrumental singles, having cut more than a dozen since the start of the pandemic in 2020. His latest is “Into Your Eyes”, a duet with fellow guitarist Maneli Jamal. “Maneli is a guitarist in Canada,” Allen said, “and he has a lot of followers as well, and when he and I do a collaboration it’s really refined because his expectations are so high. We made a 4k video for the song, and it was mastered by another brilliant Canadian guitarist, Anton Dufour. Their parts were recorded and video shot at their respective locations in Canada and Tennessee, then digitally shipped to complete the necessary editing and mixing.
There isn’t much room for an artist like Allen on terrestrial radio, but he’s always exploring other avenues to play his recordings. “I’m on Sirius XM,” he said, “what I have strived for for many years. I shot what I would call an ‘Andy Dufresne’ [Tim Robbins’ character in the The Shawshank Redemption], where he wrote to the governor twice a week to get all these books for the prison library, I persisted in emailing every week to the person who managed [Sirius XM’s] Spa channel where my music would fit. It took a long time, I probably worked on this for five years. In general, I do not receive any response to the emails I send. And I also partnered with the Calm app, which was a pretty good success for me. They have a guitar playlist and other types of relaxing and new-agey music.
Even though this is an old-fashioned term, Allen still fits into what is commonly referred to as the “new-age” genre. “I don’t like to call myself a ‘new-age’ person,” he said, “but I guess that’s kind of where I am. For some reason the instrumental guitar thing sort of falls into this Will Ackerman kind of thing. You can find it at lanceallenmusic.com or pretty much any online platform.