Stephen Arnold Music

The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America

Hello, Holiday Season!

I think it’s safe to say we are in holiday season mode. With Thanksgiving approaching next week, we are either giddy as a child or resentful as Scrooge. Thanksgiving has lost a bit of its historical meaning and has evolved into an eating holiday, right? It’s still a beautiful thing – family and food.

Just a reminder, if you are feeling a big nostalgic and want to add some historical data to your dinner conversation: according to Wiki, Thanksgiving became an official Federal holiday in 1863. President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving and praise… And then there is the story of the first Thanksgiving, which we recreated every year in elementary school. I was always the Indian because of my darker completion…now that I think about it that was just wrong.

I am incredibly thankful I will be spending Thanksgiving with friends and family this year and very excited that my daughter will be coming in from Nashville. We’ll pick up annual traditions:

  • Pictionary
  • Eating
  • Mad Libs
  • Eating
  • Dancing
  • Eating
  • 4 a.m. Black Friday Shopping!
  • 10 a.m. nap

I wanted to tie music into this post, but Thanksgiving is not really a musical holiday. However, I did find this:

Our Stephen Arnold Music family wishes you and yours a beautiful Thanksgiving holiday.

A Concert Maximus

Concerts. Let’s just say I’ve been to more than a few. From the symphony hall to the super-amplified arena, I’ve enjoyed many….well, most of them. Maximizing my concert experience is fraught with obstacles, but the big arenas try to make up for it. I stand in line to enter the venue, in line for beer and nachos, in line at the tee-shirt kiosk, and by this time I’ve finished my beer, in line to the restroom, to one day make it to my seat as the house lights go down and the crowd stands to a mezzo-frenzy. Whew! Magically, as though it were planned, light and sound burst into the venue and there on the stage are the entertainers I came to see and hear. Woo-whoo! Oh, I left out the second beer.


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It’s ironic my ticket has a seat number. I can’t remember the last time I “sat” through an amplified concert. The front row stands up and the inevitable reverse domino-effect forces the whole arena to their feet. Goodbye, seat. Hello, feet. Maybe they should remove the seats and assign us a painted square on the floor. Now this would not work in America — we would lose our cup-holder.


I really [try to] enjoy concerts. Did I mention that? Well, it’s the music that lured me. One thing I’ve found that gets in the way of the sound is . . . the sound. Sounds kinda Zen, no? Though concert sound re-enforcement has really advanced nicely over the years, it can be a rather massive assault on the senses. Most of us wouldn’t have it any other way. And there was much rejoicing by all! I want to maximize my concert experience, but I can’t turn it up past 11.


Oh, yes I can.   …. or at least turn in down to 11. Introducing earplugs.


Which brings us to what I call Concert Maximus.


Now don’t close your browser just yet. It’s amazing! Those spongy earplugs that re-expand in your outer ear seem to work the best for me. With earplugs I can still feel the chest-pounding barometrics, but now I can hear every nuance in the band, every subtlety in the performance. I can hear harmonies and harmonics that were masked by my eardrums being introduced in the middle of my head. With the band fortissimo, I can hear every subtlety on the drummer’s high-hat, the bass player’s frets on every note, the singer gasping for the next line. I can hear Fletcher and Munson applauding. (Hey, look it up.) I can hear the people behind me snickering at my earplugs. But, I can . . . hear . . . the concert!


Once I get past the initial Babblefish sensation of a bowling ball expanding in my ear, the advantages surface and continue beyond the encore. Afterward I don’t have the fashionable ear-hangover, that virtual cotton-in-my-ear sensation. I’m able to remember the concert better, since initially hearing it with higher detail, and have maximized the odds of getting my money’s worth. With that I’ll have another beer.


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I understand your disbelief. I was embarrassed the first time I used plugs at a concert. But the experience was so copious, the performance so distinct, I will never attend another concert without.


Paul West

Chief Engineer

Stephen Arnold Music

It’s all in a [Sonic] Brand: Revisiting 1970s Sports Branding in Broadcast Television

Working for The World Leader in Sonic Branding™ means I’m well versed in the Pavlovian effect music has on the human brain.  Which is a fancy way of saying that as a mega sports fan, I know that when I hear this:


…I’m ready for some Football!

That, of course, is Sonic Branding: Being able to identify something – anything – based only on the music or notes associated with it.

And believe it or not, little 12 year old Mikey Finnegan, already a sports nut, also already knew what Sonic Branding was.  So here are 5 examples from my childhood of how my favorite pastime – SPORTS! – intersected with my job of the past 10 years – MUSIC!   And even way back in the mid-70’s, without grasping the importance of branded music, I was influenced by it…

ABC’s Wide World of Sports - Charles Fox’s classic music combined with announcer Jim McKay’s famous line “the Thrill of the Victory and the Agony of Defeat” left an indelible impression in my young mind. Whenever I heard the theme, I’d sprint to the TV room to catch the show open and probably a Muhammad Ali boxing match.  This is also a great example of how music and other audio elements – like Jim McKay’s voice over – can work in tandem to reinforce a brand and a sonic brand.

ABC’s Monday Night Football - Fox also composed another outrageously popular sports theme of the 70’s, Monday Night Football.  And who could forget Howard Cosell’s legendary voice backed by perhaps the most recognizable TV theme song of that era?

This Week In Baseball - As I grew older, I began turning to Basketball; but Baseball was the first sport I was fanatical about, and a show called This Week In Baseball was my all-time favorite. Again, the voice over – this time delivered by Mel Allen –  worked perfectly to create the overall sonic brand…but it was this song by John Scott that signified my next hour was spoken for.


Olympics Theme Song – Officially titled”Bugler’s Dream and Olympic Fanfare Medley”, John Williams’ classic sports theme signified power, athleticism and crossed borders and countries.


Wimbledon Championships - This music screams 1970, but it also told me that the greatest tennis tournament was on TV.


As I write, we are in the midst of sports television glory: MLB’s World Series, mid-season NCAA/NFL (how bout them Cowboys!!!), and the start of the season for both the NHL and NBA.  In fact this weekend all four will be on the tube at some point.  And even if you’re in another room, you’ll know whether its baseball, football, basketball or hockey just by listening to the music.  And THAT’S Sonic Branding.

“Wait, What Kind of Guitar??” A Bass Player’s Top 10 Songs Featuring the Bass Guitar

Ask 20 random people off the street what instrument Roger Waters, Paul McCartney or Sting play, and odds are you’ll get a blank look (or a, “They sing, right?”). In fact, show those same 20 people video from a random rock concert, and they’ll likely see “a singer, a couple of guitarists, a drummer, and … that other guy standing over there by the drummer … what’s he do??”

Bass PlayersThe bass guitar has to be the least appreciated … or even recognized … musical instrument in modern music. As a bassist, I’ve heard it all. From, “That’s some kind of guitar, right? Why is it so big? Where are the rest of the strings? Where’s your pick?” to my favorite one-two punch to the solar plexus of a bassist’s ego, “Play me a song … That’s not what that song sounds like!!” It’s just one of those kinds of instruments, I guess, so it’s always nice when a band releases a song where the bass is the most recognizable part of the song.

So here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite songs where the bassist gets to step out from behind the drum riser and at least approach the spotlight being hogged by the singer.

1) Malignant Narcissism – Rush  No list about the bass guitar would be complete without an appearance by Geddy Lee of Rush – appearing at number 1 here just to annoy Whitney. Rather than go with the predictable choice of YYZ from 1981’s “Moving Pictures”, here’s Malignant Narcissism from 2007’s “Snakes & Arrows”. Played on a fretless, no less

2) Roundabout - Yes The second video on our list is a perfect example of what I talked about above. The busiest member of the band, the person playing the most technically difficult and musically interesting part of the tune is Chris Squire. Yet, the only camera time he gets is when he’s singing … and only from the neck up.

3) Come Together - The Beatles While I might not be the biggest Beatles fan at SAM, no one can deny that Paul McCartney played one of the coolest and most recognizable bass guitar licks in the history of rock and roll with 1969’s Come Together.

4) Money - Pink Floyd Roger Waters may have done the impossible here: He wrote a bass lick in 7/4 time and turned it into a hit record. That’s like batting a 20 meter touchdown through the net in the final period … okay, so I don’t really “get” sports.  But I think my point still stands:  Bass … 7/4 time signature… hit record … yeah, pretty much impossible.

5) Schism - To0l Tool’s Justin Chancellor has one of the most distinctive sounds and playing styles in modern metal. 2002’s Grammy-winning Schism is a fantastic example. Warning: This is probably the weirdest music video you’ve ever seen.

6) Hysteria - Muse Like most other 3-piece bands, Muse have more than their fair share of raw talent, and Christopher Wolstenholme is no exception. I mean … just listen to this guy!

7) Rio - Duran Duran Duran Duran’s Rio is one of those songs that were so popular and overplayed, you probably paid even less attention to the bass guitar than normal (is that even possible??). So here’s a version I found floating around with the bass cranked way up just to show you how much of a mad man John Taylor was on this tune.

8) I Want A New Drug / Ghostbusters – Huey Lewis & The News / Ray Parker Jr These last three fall under the category of “Bass lines so good, someone else used them, too.” First up is I Want A New Drug by Huey Lewis & The News, aka Ghostbusters.

9) Under Pressure / Ice Ice Baby - Queen and David Bowie / Vanilla Ice Next is Under Pressure by Queen & David Bowie. For those of you born in the 90s, you’ll recognize it as Ice Ice Baby. This video proves that some people have too much time on their hands.

10) Good Times – Chic And finally, perhaps the most-sampled bass line in all recorded history: Good Times by Chic. The various tunes this bass line has appeared in are too numerous to mention, but Rapper’s Delight is probably the best-known sample.


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Editorial Note: Clay has been in SAM’s Creative Services department for 10+ years.  He likes all things Rush, pretending not to know about sports, and complimenting Whitney on his sartorial choices and/or haircut(s).

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NAB: Small Market Television Exchange…Everything but SMALL

My first ever SMTE conference, in San Antonio, Texas, was much bigger and better than I could’ve imagined! I mean—Small Market—it’s right up my alley being from a tiny little town in Arkansas. These guys really are the heart and soul of their towns. I remember what a big deal it was when the local news stations would come to our high school football games to get highlights for the 10pm news–Talk about some excited kids, doing everything they could to be on TV!

I had a blast manning the SAM exhibit. We definitely stood out—I mean we were giving away a vintage ’77 Takamine 12 String signed by James Taylor…HELLO! Can’t tell you how many people asked me if they could drop their entire stack of business cards in the ballot box!

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This year’s guitar giveaway turned out to be a pretty cool moment. David Praga, GM at KIMA in Pasco, WA was the card that I drew from the fishbowl. I immediately start cheering and congratulating him—grab the guitar off the stand—and happily hand it over to him. To my surprise, and every other person standing there for that matter—HE GAVE IT AWAY!!!! Yes, you read that correctly—HE GAVE IT AWAY. He handed this gorgeous, sought after guitar over to Bob Berry, his Station Manager. Bob was like a kid at Christmas! Beyond excited! He is a huge guitar junkie, and had come by our booth a few times just to admire it—always reminding me that it was going to be HIS guitar this year. And then low and behold—he got his wish. Such a cool moment to witness. There ARE some pretty great bosses out there, right? Loved it.

I met so many great people who, like me, love and appreciate their small towns. I am grateful to have met such passionate, hard-working people.

Can’t wait to build on these relationships made, and already looking forward to seeing them all next year!

PMC 2014 – SAM goes Hollywood!!

Well, more like Inglewood actually…


If you didn’t know that Stephen Arnold Music has a production music catalog called “The Vault”, then shame on you. And if you didn’t know that we’re also proud members of the Production Music Association, then double shame on you. And if you didn’t know that the 1st Annual Production Music Conference is THIS FRIDAY, then well, you get the idea…


This new day-long event that brings together Composers, Libraries, Technology Providers, Music Users and More.  The industry’s thought leaders will be on hand and on panels to provide YOU with tools to create better, work smarter, and license your music more wisely!


So, if you’re planning on attending, drop us a line and we’ll see you in Hollywood! Or Inglewood really… pretty much the same right?



Following My Passion

Coming from a country where oil refineries are the bread and butter of life, you wouldn’t be surprised to know that a music career doesn’t sound too appealing to the ears of some parents where I grew up.


That was kind of my case.


I was born and raised in a little town in the north part of Venezuela, on a little peninsula called Paraguana. There are three things you can find out there: beautiful beaches, perfect weather and oil refineries.


I always loved music and I started playing music at a young age and had several bands growing up. But, when it was time to go to college, I didn’t have too many options given the local industry; it was either be an Oil & Gas Engineer, or an Oil & Gas Engineer! I lost my dad at a young age and he was a Mechanical Engineer his whole life, despite never recieving a college degree in it…So I went to college and got a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I knew its what he would have wanted


After six months and a horrible experience working in oil refineries I decided to follow my passion: Music!  I came to the U.S. with $100 in my pocket and did not speak English. My best friend from high school was living here already, so I stayed with him; going to community college to learn English and working as a cashier to pay for my school. I went to Dallas Sound Lab, now called Media Tech.


After I finished I thought it was my time to shine.  But nobody called; no emails, nothing!! So, Plan B… wait, there wasn’t a Plan B.


Finally I got an interview in Austin, to work in a Recording Studio there. The interview never happened, even though I sat in their lobby waiting for 4 hours AND after driving 3 hours to get there.


On my way back home I got a call from somebody I had never heard of. I never sent my resume to him, but some how he found me…his name is Stephen Arnold, from Stephen Arnold Music.


I remember that conversation like it was yesterday. Stephen said, “ I would like to bring you in for an interview for a paid internship.” … pause… I thought was a friend of mine making fun of me. I said, “look man, this is not funny, my day is a mess, don’t joke with me right now”… pause… Stephen: “I would like to bring you in for an interview for a paid internship”… pause.. me: “holy crap! So sorry man, sure I will be there!”   Wow, I was speechless.


11 years later I still work for Stephen as a Senior Audio Editor and Sound Designer in the Creative Services Department. I have been learning from the best, because I want to be the best. Working at SAM has been a unique experience, learning so much more about the music business than I had ever even dreamt about. The quality of musicians I have the privilege to work with every day and the amazing writers, producers and engineers help me to grow professionally.


Learning the creative process of making music at SAM is such a unique thing, the way we walk step by step with the client to get to know exactly what they have in their mind is just amazing. Following my passion has taken me for a nice ride, and I am still learning. I’ve been doing Sound Design, Mixing, Recording, also I have the chance to do Live Sound and even working on Movie Sets as a freelancer. And of course I still get a band together when I can…. Gonzo City may have played its last gig in Ft Worth, but here’s a picture of the guys!


I guess the phrase “Follow Your Passion” worked perfect for me. A wise man told me once, “Find what you love to do and then find the way to get paid doing it”. Music is such of big part of everything, and learning how to be good at it has opened a lot of doors in my career; and it is because of working at a place like SAM that I am where I am in my professional career.


Journey – A Black History Month Special with Sponsorship Opportunities

Sam2-Journey-v3We have a great new product from our Sam2 media division - a Black History Month Special with Sponsorship Opportunities.

“Journey” is a never before told true story about the role free blacks played in the founding of the first city in the United States.

  • A sponsorable documentary special perfect for Black History month
  • Full 26 minute version available as well as five 2-minute segments for play in news.
  • Play it on-air, on-line, or in-school. The entire documentary can be given to local schools by the presenting sponsor and TV station during Black History Month for use in their classrooms.
  • Market Exclusive

For more information, please contact Gordon Smith at our Sam2 Atlanta office:
ph: 404-600-8257

You can check out the Journey Overview, Promo Trailer and Linconville Segment on our microsite at:



The Non Musician – There is a Place for you in the Music Business!

Often, when you meet someone new, one of the first questions they ask is, “What do you do?”  Which always means, “What do you do for a living?”  I reply that I rep Stephen Arnold Music and explain that we produce original music for broadcast and cable networks, along with creating branded music packages for local television stations.  With excitement and intrigue, they ask, “Oh, you’re a musician?”  I anticipate the big let down when I’m forced to respond in the negative.   “Well, do you play an instrument?”  Again, my less than thrilling answer: “No.”

Yes, I work for a music company, but I do not have a musical bone in my body.  I tried picking up the guitar, but my fingers are really not long enough or strong enough.  I tried playing the piano; again, it’s helpful to have longer digits.  I played the flute in elementary school, but there was just too much spitting – ewww, gross.  I suppose if Stephen was in need of a tambourine player, I could keep a gypsy beat . . . or if he needed a cow-bellist, I’d be happy to volunteer.

I’ve been with Stephen Arnold Music for 10 years, and I still stand in awe of the talent and brilliance that surrounds me. Music moves us; it motivates us to do something – dance, sing, cry, or run into the room to catch a newscast – because we recognize the music. So I am proud to say, I am part of the music industry, even though I have no musical talent.

I was talking to Pat Beard from WCTI about this very subject, and he so eloquently stated, “Every great musician needs someone awesome to support them, and that person is you.”  I like that!

So next time someone asks me what I do I just might say, “I am an awesome support person for some great musicians!”


Our talented SAM staff and their instruments:

Stephen: Guitar, piano, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, harp guitar

Chad: Piano, keyboards

Whitney: Guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, piano

Noelle: French horn, mellophone, trumpet

Alice: Awesome support person

Michael: Violin, guitar (novice- with 4 songs under his belt!)

Clay: Saxophone, bass guitar, piano, guitar, and vocals AND flute, clarinet, French horn, trumpet, and tuba

Tinley: Awesome support person

Jesus: Guitar, bass guitar, congas and bongos, drums, keyboard

Lyndsey: Awesome support person

Katherine: Awesome support person

Paul: Keyboards



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