The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America
February 9, 2016Posted by on
How Killer Marketing, Great Music, and the Best in the Business Launched
a Top Tourist Attraction in the City of Brotherly Love
Well, as our company President Stephen wrote in our last post – it was a great a 2015! And featured in our greatest hits was a project I got to know VERY well…
Let me take you back a bit. The year was 2014, and we were called in to pitch on a creative brief from one of the country’s top design firms. We went in cold, having very little background on the project or what exactly the project even was. After fleshing out some concepts with the project’s directors, I can still recall how the conversation wrapped up:
Me: “Gentlemen, this sounds like an exciting opportunity and a great project. I think we have a chance to sonically brand several areas at One Liberty Place with some custom pieces and augment that with interactive sound design working alongside the team you have in place. We’d love a chance to work with you on the audio, music, and sound implementation.”
Client: “That sounds great, Whitney, but I don’t think you understand. You’re our guys. We want you to handle all audio and music components; we want Stephen Arnold Music to show us how sonic branding can work in our attraction.”
Well, that was very satisfying. Obviously our world class reputation was such that EVERY creative, no matter what industry, was keenly aware of our work …
Or maybe it was something else…
Music and Sonic Branding is at the heart of Stephen Arnold Music – we wouldn’t be where we are today if beats, bars, and guitars weren’t the backbone of our company. But killer marketing has been, and always will be, our calling card. Check out this collection of our marketing hits from years gone by…
Before we closed our initial creative call, I had to ask our newest client – “How did you hear about us?” And no, it wasn’t CNN, ESPN, our work with over 300 TV stations, or our international clientele – They said, “We had one of your vinyl albums. Our creative director got it and loved it so much he’s had it on display in his office ever since. So when our next project that needed music came up, we knew just who to call.”
Wow! Marketing today is all about CTRs, KPIs and target demographics. But it goes to show you that an awesome marketing piece, no matter how big (vinyl won’t even fit in your mailbox), will always make an impression.
An even bigger impression was the final product for “Philly From The Top” – an observation deck on the 57th floor of One Liberty Place in Philadelphia with 360º views of the city. We were part of a team of over 2 dozen vendors supplying everything from speaker wires to elevator cables to an oversize bust of Ben Franklin (hey, it’s Philadelphia!)
It was a 12 month process that saw us send teams up to Philly and back and work with local talent to implement sound experiences on 3 floors with 6 distinct sonic experiences.
Our sound design team, headed by Paul West and Jesus Garcia, created an immersive thunder storm experience to replicate the night Ben Franklin famously flew his kite in a storm. With 4 separate sound design programs synced to LEDs and randomized cueing, the end experience was very cool!
It also involved curating over 1000 hours of music from anyone and everyone who had roots in the Philadelphia music scene – from Patty Labelle to John Coltrane to The Roots to Gamble and Huff – into 3 distinct day-part playlists playing on 3 different floors.
Another component was on the 57th floor, where patrons can sit down and relax in one of three immersive chair experiences to hear local talent and Philadelphia celebrities tell the story of Music, Sports, and Culture in Philadelphia. We produced all 3 reads with the help of Philadelphia Post, with final mix and audio support handled at our main studio here in Texas.
But the most memorable were the custom scores for the elevator ride up to — and back down from — the 57th floor. Working along side an awesome film crew and director, the music accompanies aerial drone footage of some of the iconic sights around Philadelphia. Of course we couldn’t miss the chance to track live orchestration on a project like this so we called on the Dallas Symphony and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras up to our studio in the country – the end result sounds fantastic! You can check out the “Way Down” video here:
Philly From the Top was a first for us here at Stephen Arnold Music, but we hope its not our last! What a great project to be involved with and of course, its only given our President Stephen Arnold an excuse to start work with Rucker + Co on our next crazy marketing piece!
January 26, 2016Posted by on
Whew! 2015 was the hottest year on record. And things really heated up as well for all of us here at Stephen Arnold Music with new, exciting musical branding projects for some top corporations, news and sports networks and live attractions.
Successful branding is all about making emotional connections. Music is the fastest way to evoke an emotional response, and the most efficient way for a brand to associate itself with those responses. We call it “sonic branding.” And in today’s highly mobile and social media context, consumers are more apt to share messages and content that make them feel something. Music acts as the emotional “glue” that helps bind people together.
A great example is the new theme song we created for the MeTV Network. It’s an addictive, modern spin on swing music tied to the tag line ”That’s Memorable, That’s Me.” Once you see the pictures with the words, it make an indelible impression, compelling you to watch the great TV shows on MeTV that we all grew up with. It’s an infectious, fun campaign, and we loved working on it. Take a listen:
The gripping, real-life drama portrayed in the CNBC show “Shark Tank” can really get your blood boiling, and it needs a high-energy audio formula to help drive viewers to watch it. We put together a funky, rhythm-driven track with original “Shark Tank Nation” lyrics to help get the party started. It’s another terrific example of the music matching and driving the intense, competitive nature of the show’s brand. We think you’ll agree:
Politics seem to be on EVERYONE’S minds these days…including ours! To help launch the “State of the Union” program with Jake Tapper, CNN came to us once again looking for a bold, confident musical signature and theme. This new show interviews top newsmakers on policy and politics, so it needed some audio “gravitas” to help establish credibility. It became a great opportunity to blend live orchestration, modern percussion and guitars into a compelling and memorable theme, helping shape the show’s new identity for viewers. Listen up:
2015 also marked the launch of some new cable channels, including “Decades Television Network.” They needed some solid sonic branding. We were more than happy to provide them with an extensive musical package based on a 4-note sonic logo. It became a lush, multi-style collection, giving the network a wide range of themes around which they could promote their unique blend of entertainment and history. Check it out:
Sometimes you just can’t afford a brand-new, custom piece of music, but need something dramatic and memorable right now. ESPN Deptortes found an existing track on our production library, “The Vault” to promote the 2015 Pan Am Games. It’s big, bold…and it’s beautiful:
Sometimes you just need a new musical theme to appeal to a billion people. That’s right – one BILLION! Well, China Central Television International (CCTV) has a worldwide audience that size. This was a fascinating and massive project, involving rebranding their five international channels. Now THAT’s a big job! But we were up to it, composing themes for CCTV’s English, French (African), Spanish, Russian and Arabic audiences. Want sonic brand variety? You’ll find it right here:
Hey, it’s not ALL about TV! One of the more exciting projects we tackled this year was for “Philly From the Top”, a fun, experiential 57 floor elevator ride to the One Liberty Building observation deck. During the trip and at the top, riders are exposed to the fascinating story of the history of Philadelphia through visuals, sounds and special effects. We created the sound design for each area of the attraction. It was great fun, as SAM audio gurus Paul West, Whitney Arnold and Jesus Garcia made several trips to Philly to oversee the audio implementation. It was a unique chance to create sonic branding and musical content in a completely new environment for us. Though it’s not as cool as being there, you can sample it here:
it’s been a big year, right? And we’re working on more exciting projects for 2016 right now. The science and artistry of creating memorable audio experiences has always fascinated us. Just try and imagine the soundtrack of your life without the memorable music that accompanies it in your mind. It’s powerful. It’s pervasive. It’s indelible. And it’s what we do everyday here at Stephen Arnold Music.
View the 2015 Stephen Arnold Music montage here:
January 12, 2016Posted by on
We are really excited about our latest news music branding package “Guardian”. I was recently interviewed by NewscastStudio for a “behind the scenes” look at the new package and details about its creation and development. There is a great deal of thought that goes into producing branded music for media. Much more than just creating “cool” music, one must consider the brand objective, how it will live in various media environments, the target demographic, the context of how it will coexist with both content use and promotions, and both the art and science that go into creating a distinctive set of notes that will anchor a comprehensive, sonically-branded music toolkit.
I thought it would be interesting to share an excerpt from that article and interview:
Stephen Arnold Music recently developed a syndicated news music package that’s already debuted in five local markets, including WSB-TV and KIRO-TV. The package came about from a search for a fresh sound and production style that was more cinematic. We recently had a chance to speak with Chad Cook, the VP of creative services at Stephen Arnold Music, about the package…
How did you find the style?
In recent years, we have been creating more and more sonic brands and custom music packages for international networks and channels – CCTV China, CNN International, Al Jazeera to name a few. Some of our international news music packages have been very percussion and texture based – more in the style of a modern, cinematic soundtrack for news programming. So we drew upon some of these different production techniques as a base for creating this new package.
How would you describe the package and its sonic brand?
Historically, many news music packages have been all about being “big”, “loud”, “fast”, and “high-impact” – where you are pounding on your chest and almost yelling your presence to the viewer. With this package we wanted the impact to be more emotional and intelligent. The tone of this package is confident and empowered, and in-depth. There is a boldness to the package and musical signature, but it is achieved more through mood and textures than conventional musical methods.
The sonic logo/musical signature is very distinctive and memorable. We wanted this sonic logo to be very natural and musical to the ear – a simple melodic riff that you could easily play on a guitar or keyboard. Often times, news branding melodies use intervals, voicings, and harmonies that are more conducive to an orchestra or brass section.
We feel the sonic logo and musical style for this package is very contemporary, accessible, and relatable to a wide demographic – whether Baby Boomers, Generation X, and even Millennials. Not only is the production style very modern, but it’s very clean and uncluttered. It has a sound and feel that fits hand in glove with digital media sonic support and applications.
Why do you think the music has already seen such high pickup?
We are so excited that the package has already been picked up in several markets. I think that the unique sound and distinctive sonic brand of this package is really resonating with some stations that have been looking for a fresh approach to music for news content and promotion. I feel like this is not your standard “news” package but more of a modern soundtrack for news with a clean, textural approach that is very digital content friendly as well.
You can check out the full interview here:
And here is a montage of the finished “Guardian” package:
December 16, 2015Posted by on
Season’s Greetings Everyone,
We’re back again this Holiday Season hoping to make our industry aware of this great organization, Little Kids Rock™.
Little Kids Rock™ provides free music lessons and instruments to underserved public school kids around the country.
In the last three years, through the purchase of our CD by our peers in the broadcast industry, we have been able to put 100+ brand new acoustic guitars into the hands of children. “The Six Strings of Christmas” features many of our great Texas studio friends playing their own 6-string yuletide arrangements (100% of the proceeds go to Little Kids Rock).
Each CD costs just $9.99, and 100% of the proceeds are donated to Little Kids Rock, which means:
- 1 CD = Provides a child with three months of music lessons!
- 5 CDs = Puts a brand new acoustic guitar into a child’s hands!
- 10 CDs = Supplies a keyboard and amp to a public school music class!
So with the purchase of “The Six Strings of Christmas” by Stephen Arnold Music, you will be helping Little Kids Rock provide free instruments and music lessons to disadvantaged public school students in some of the most economically challenged communities in the United States!
Here’s Stephen being interviewed in 2014 by KDAF in Dallas about Little Kids Rock and The Six Strings of Christmas:
Thanks for giving our children the right to rock!
December 4, 2015Posted by on
We’re very proud of our international work for networks like Al Jazeera (Qatar), Alhurra (Middle East), India TV, GSP Sports (Romania), TRK (Norway), TRT1 (Turkey) … it’s a pretty long list!
A decade ago, we delivered music via FedEx – now we can FTP our latest mixes instantaneously. But in either case, we’re usually tracking and mixing in our Texas studio while our clients are a VERY long way away.
Sometimes, though, we have the opportunity to pitch, present, or deliver in person – such as when we helped launch Al Watan in Kuwait or our recent re-branding of the 5 CCTV China foreign language channels. And whether that’s a trip to the Middle East or to Beijing, it’s always exciting to be able to experience different cultures first hand!
Well, right now IS one of those “sometimes”, and I’m currently in the beautiful Balinese mountains in a town called Ubud. Earlier this week, Stephen and I were speakers at Promax Asia in Singapore giving a talk on the power of Sonic Branding.
The presentation was fantastic! And we even got to say hello to some old friends … friends like Stefan from Flint/Skallen – who we worked the CCTV project with – and Ian from Song Zu – whose music we license via our production music library The Vault.
Of course, 3 days in Singapore for a conference really isn’t the best use of all those hours on a plane to get here … so Stephen and I brought our better halves and hopped over to Bali, Indonesia!
Don’t worry, Stephen Arnold Music is still open for business, so feel free to give our staff back in Texas a call!