Anthony Joseph Lanman is bringing the music to the people. In addition to being a composer and electric guitarist, his show, 1-Track Podcast, aims to advocate for living composers by asking a single question of its guests: If someone was interested in getting to know your music and you only had one track to play them, what would it be? This simple yet powerful question gives composers a unique opportunity to showcase their favorite works, and present new music to audiences in a succinct and informative context.
1 Track Podcast aims to elevate awareness of composers at work today. What sets it apart in its approach?
In a word–focus. I’m actually a huge podcast fan and avid listener, and in the past few years, some fantastic podcasts began to crop up that were exploring the business side of being a composer. It was something we sorely needed, especially in these times.
However, I saw a kind of gap forming. People were becoming more aware of composer’s career milestones and business advice and fundraising tips, etc. etc., and less aware of the actual music that they were producing. I saw this as a great deficit, so I started 1 Track to try to fill that hole.
Right from the start, I wanted the episodes to be laser focused, and I came up with a simple (depending on who you ask) question that would essentially be the entire show. It’s a question we’ve all heard a variation of before–it’s that “desert island” kind of question. But, I had never heard it asked to composers before, and I realized that this would give the composers (and later, performers) an opportunity to present their music the way they wanted to present it. And that’s it – we focus on one track–a track that encapsulates what that artist does.
As a rule, I don’t choose, or even suggest tracks. It’s all completely up to the guest. One past guest was really having trouble deciding on their 1 track. They kept debating back and forth, trying to anticipate what the audience might want. But that’s not what it’s about–it’s about what the artist feels is THE track–the one that changed everything for them.
In addition to 1 Track Podcast, how are you advocating for living composers?
I advocate in every way that I can. I don’t have a University job, a position that carries so many resources to help other people. I don’t have those resources, so I use the things that I do have.
In addition to the podcast, I have a large following on Soundcloud (426,057 people at the time of this interview), and Soundcloud has a feature that lets me share music with that entire audience. So, I make it a point during the week to go listen to new pieces–some from people that I know, but I also make an effort to listen to people I don’t know. I then share those tracks with my audience so more people can hear this music. I have no idea if they’re getting anything useful out of it–useful to their careers I mean–but having people listen is very important to me. It always has been.
I’m also a performing guitarist–classical and electric. Cultivating new music for guitar, and performing that music is another way that I can connect with and help composers.
How does your podcast–a strictly digital platform–help with the BPM (Buy Physical Media) movement?
Again, this falls into ways I’m trying to help composers survive. It’s incredibly difficult to make money from recordings these days. The models that we currently have–streaming models, etc.–just don’t work for the majority of artists. Through the podcast, I’m trying to encourage people to buy physical media of artists that you like. CDs, LPs, cassette tapes, DVDs, whatever.
We’ve all fallen under the current consumer driven convenience model, which is to just fire up a streaming service and instantly call up whatever you desire. This is a dream for listeners, but it’s a nightmare for artists. It’s a problem–one that I don’t pretend to have the answer to–but, if I can get a few people to buy some CDs, that’s more money in that artists pocket than hundreds of thousands of streams will net them.
Maybe that money will help with the rent that month, or allow someone to buy that extra nice gift for their child’s birthday. It’s another way that we can all help and support artists that we like. If you don’t like physical media, that’s fine. Buy the digital album instead, but until legislation is passed that makes sense and is fair to artists, this is one of the best ways for artists to make some income.
I noticed your headshot features you with an 8-string guitar (so awesome!). How does your electric guitar past influence your new music present?
So, my path into classical music wasn’t so typical. I didn’t start my music degree until I was 23 years old. In those 5 years after high school and before college, I played in a progressive metal band in Houston, Texas. When you’re playing music for people outside of the academic environment, it’s a whole different world. When you’re playing that club, or on that festival stage, you have to bring something that the audience will love. If you don’t, you won’t be back. It’s a different mindset, and it’s one that I’ve always thought the academic environment could use a little more of.
This is where that desire to have people hear my music was really formed. I’ve always felt that it’s extremely important to try to reach a wider audience and to make the best quality recordings that you can. If I had gone to university straight out of high school, and always presented my music in that academic environment, I’m not sure that I would put so much importance on it. But in this world, where so many academic jobs are drying up, it’s more important than ever that we have people listening. Not just our colleagues–people.
I’m going to borrow the title question of your podcast: If someone was interested in getting to know your music and you only had one track to play them, what would it be?
So, interestingly, no one has ever asked me this until now – lol.
But, I think it would definitely have to be a piano trio that I wrote back in 2001 called il dolce stile nuovo. It’s a piece that represents for me, the first time I decided to stop worrying about what other people wanted from me, and to just do something honest. That piece really shaped what my music would become, and allowed me to go all the way through my masters and doctoral degrees without losing who I was.
I feel weird talking about my own music, because it’s supposed to be about other people’s music, and not mine. So, I’ll leave it there. ☺