Stephen Arnold Music

The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America

Category Archives: Stories

20 Years and #StillIndie

What a long strange trip it’s been.

As you can guess from my last name, I’ve been around Stephen Arnold Music for quite a long time. I’ve often mused that it was quite an eye-opening discovery, around age 8 or 9, to find out that EVERYONE didn’t have a recording studio.

While the business has changed from its humble origins as Stephen Arnold Productions, one thing has remained the same: We’re proud to be an independent and customer service is our lifeblood.

So what exactly does that mean? Aren’t there lots of composers and music houses out there?

Sure, there are many fine composers out there, and many successful music houses. But to have staff including sales, marketing, admin, not to mention our creative team and all the musicians and talent that we count on daily – working alongside full-time employees numbering 15+, Stephen Arnold Music today is a different animal completely.

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We’re proud to service over 300 television stations along with some of the largest networks on the planet. Our music helped launch CNN Headline News (now HLN) and recently rebranded CCTV China’s 5 international channels — the largest television network in the world by viewership.

Aside from the detailed creative and production that takes place daily in our studios, there is a heaving database of administration – from contracts to sales to copyrights to registrations to making sure payroll goes out; it’s no small task to keep Stephen Arnold Music humming on a daily basis.

Ask around and you’ll discover what sets us apart: our dedication to customer service, understanding the science AND art of sonic branding, and always putting our clients first (even if adding that saxophone is a bad idea!). Our passion is to make our clients look and sound great; to brand stations, networks, TV shows, and media in a way that’s memorable, innovative and engaging.

Want to know what it means to be #indie? Pick up the phone and give us a call – ask for anyone in the company, from President Stephen Arnold to VP Creative Services Chad Cook all the way down to the mail room and you’ll be put right through. It’s always been that way at Stephen Arnold Music.

Happy Hour is Friday 4pm sharp – stop by, see us and we’ll show you around.

 

Editor’s Note: For more information on what is means to be #indie, check out Newscast Studios article: http://www.newscaststudio.com/2015/04/16/stephen-arnold-relishes-in-independence/

 

A Lost (Cover) Art

A generation ago, the music listening experience was just that: an experience. Having returned from the record store, the eager listener – usually in the company of like-minded friends – would peel the shrinkwrap from the rather large cardboard sleeve and remove the inner, thinner paper sleeve to reveal the all-important vinyl record that awaited inside. After placing the fragile disc carefully on the turntable, the stylus would be lowered to the surface, gingerly, in the hopes of minimizing that inevitable *pop* of first contact.

And with that pop began an audio/visual adventure. For it wasn’t only the music that caught our interest. No, the best collections of music were always wrapped in large, stunning artwork that fired our imaginations and sparked our conversations. And no first listen could be complete without a thorough examination of that new masterpiece.

But as we’ve made the decades-long transition from Hi-Fi to Wi-Fi, the canvas has shrunk, and the listening experience has become less organic and, consequently, less engrossing. No longer do we take the time to listen to a new release in its entirety as a single work while intently studying every square inch of the packaging. And while vinyl is enjoying something of a resurgence in certain circles, downloads and Shuffle Mode still rule the day. And with that, we’ve lost our appreciation of the long-form album as a work of art in its own right.

So I’d like to share with you some of my all-time favorite album covers. No rhyme or reason here … no particular order … just revisiting some really fantastic work by an increasingly underappreciated class of artist.

 

And of course, I’d be remiss to neglect our two offerings from SAM.  Give us a call if you’d like a copy!

SAMSAM I AM

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.

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!

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.

peninsula_de_paraguana_1

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!

gonzo2

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.

 

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