Stephen Arnold Music

The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America

Tag Archives: Sonic Branding

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.

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.

 

PromaxBDA: NYC and Station Summit …. Done!

Sometimes being the “new kid on the block” has its perks! Especially when it means joining the Stephen Arnold Music team just in time for their Promax conferences in NYC and Las Vegas!

PromaxDBA: The Conference in New York was the beginning of a whole new world for me. So much to soak up, in so little time! Amidst all the hustle and meeting new clients, I was able to sit in on Stephen and Chad leading a session featuring the huge project of rebranding CCTV China’s foreign language channels. Completely blew my mind. It was so fun sitting next to a couple of guys from ESPN and getting to say “Isn’t that awesome?? They did all of our custom music!” I was beaming with pride just being a part of SAM and everything that it implies.

It was also great getting to meet some of our partners at The Brand Gallery — what a cool group they are! I am super excited to work closely with them on upcoming projects. It honestly felt like going to meet extended family at Thanksgiving — I could quickly tell that these guys love SAM, and we love them. They are OUR extended family here, and couldn’t be happier about that.

Overall, just the energy of Promax NY was exhilarating and left me wanting more. I was ready for round #2 in Vegas for sure!

And oh how Vegas did NOT disappoint! The Station Summit was a full 5 days of meeting clients and hosting happy hours in our SAM suite. We couldn’t go out without a bang of course … the annual SAM party jam session was a little “too rowdy” for the Mirage, and security shut us down just after 11pm! It’s apparent that SAM likes to have fun, y’all!

The best part about the TONS of new people that I met, they all had one thing in common: Raving fans of Stephen Arnold Music. They all went on and on about how great it is to work with SAM, how the music is incomparable to anything else they’ve heard, how much they love the people at SAM they get to work with … just kept going! Again, beaming with pride that I get the opportunity to be a part of a worthwhile company like SAM. It’s not every day that a stranger riding up the elevator with you looks at your badge and says, “Aren’t you lucky?! You get to work for Stephen Arnold Music!” The reputation that we have is incredible. Easily the coolest thing about getting to attend these conferences as the “newbie”— feeling like I was getting to tag along with ROCKSTARS! Everyone knows SAM!

I’m over the moon excited to join the Stephen Arnold Music team and can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get to work!

 

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Promax Preview…..SAM style!

Happy Monday everyone!

It’s another gorgeous Spring day here in New York and, after lounging in Central Park most of the weekend, I’m so thankful that I won’t have to leave the city for this year’s PromaxDBA: The Conference!

Stephen, Chad, and Lyndsey will all be joining me in NYC for the June 10-12th conference. I moseyed over to the Hilton Midtown last week to check out the venue, and I think we’re going to have another great convergence of creative geniuses!  And, if you haven’t heard, Stephen and Chad will be giving conference-goers the inside scoop in a session featuring the rebrand and relaunch of CCTV China’s foreign language channels.  Stop by the Mercury Room on Thursday at 3:45. Hope everyone’s able to check it out! #WTFuture

Win this Tom Petty Signed Strat!!

Win this Tom Petty Signed Strat!!

And if local creative is your game, keep pushing until the end of May book on Wednesday! Then give us a shout if you’d like to meet up in Vegas! This year we’ll be taking over The Mirage the last week of June for the PromaxBDA Station Summit. And yes, the wrap party Thursday night is a go. Feel free to send us a note to make sure you’re on the invite list and get all the official details.

Whether we’re seeing you in Vegas or NYC be sure to stop by, say hello, and drop your business card in for our drawing for a Tom Petty signed Road Worn Fender Stratocaster!

On a personal note – is it inappropriate to take a baby to Vegas? Nah, didn’t think so. Baby Alanis will be joining us at the roulette table. That’s his game. #STATIONSUMMIT

Baby Alanis on a roll....

Baby Alanis on a roll….

And the winner is …

Very happy to announce the winner of our Dean Resonator giveaway, which we drew for today!

Congrats to Dave Shelly of KFSM-TV in Fort Smith!

Thanks to everyone for all of your great comments and feedback on Canvas, This Is The Place, All About Early and iNergy!

And definitely stay tuned for information on our next drawing.

Until next time!!

The Legend Lives On…

Four years ago this week Les Paul died at the ripe old age of 94.  It was truly the passing of a legend.  And whether you were born in 1920 or the year 2000, he’s profoundly affected your life, and you might not even know it!

Les continued to perform well into his 90s

Les continued to perform well into his 90s

As a performer and musician, his TV and radio program “The Les Paul & Mary Show” was syndicated into millions of households and made him a star.  Between 1945 and 1955 he notched over 20 top 10 hit songs, including 3 number ones.  His lightning fast guitar licks influenced a generation of rockers, from the Beatles to Billy Gibbons.   Steve Miller actually learned guitar from Les.

And while his influence as a musician is solid, it’s his innovations in how people heard his music that still affects us today.

Les Paul & Mary Ford using some of Les's earliest recording equipment.  They would set up in hotels as they toured the country

Les Paul & Mary Ford using some of Les’s earliest recording equipment. They would set up in hotels as they toured the country

Les didn’t actually invent the solid body electric guitar – Rickenbacker beat him by 8 years in 1932 – but his designs and innovations were integral in the evolution and popularization of it.  The iconic guitar that bears his name – The Gibson Les Paul – was famously played by the likes of Neil Young, Slash, Jimmy Page, Duane Allman and Bob Marley, to name but a few.

His early recordings were the first to utilize Sound on Sound and Multi-track recording, and he’s credited with the development of overdubbing, close-micing, and tape delay & phasing as effects on his recordings.  He essentially created and developed modern recording techniques (take THAT pro-tools!)

TInkering with a more advanced recording console

Tinkering with a more advanced recording console

In an age where digital recording hardware and synthesized sounds can be bought for a few hundred bucks, the idea that a young man would tear apart his folks’ radio, or mount magnetic rods into guitars, or fill a guitar with plaster-of-Paris to stop vibrations; to actually create his own disc cutter assembly from used car parts (his original experiments with Sound on Sound recordings used acetate discs rather than magnetic tape) all in the quest to create or record or amplify his music is literally extraordinary.

So next time you’re tuning up your new axe or listening to the latest top 40 radio hit, take a moment to remember Les Paul.

He was a true renaissance man, and the world is quite a bit louder – and better sounding – thanks to him.

Breaking News!! SAM to partner with PGM Artists!!

SAM_PGMWe have a new partnership that we want to tell you about: Stephen Arnold Music and PGM Artists http://pgmartists.com/ are now collaborating on select original music and sonic branding projects for the advertising sector.

PGM Artists is a high-level “matchmaker” that draws companies together from across a broad range of complementary disciplines. The firm was founded by marketing and production veteran Phil McIntyre, and they excel at connecting advertising agencies and corporations worldwide to creative and marketing resources, with the goal of enabling them to innovate, communicate and compete at the highest possible level.

There were a lot of great reasons to start working with PGM Artists. We think it’s a creative, forward-thinking company that really understands branding. And our commitment to creating memorable sonic branding is a perfect fit for the advertising world, which is where PGM Artists have proven they’re particularly effective.

It’s a highly accomplished firm with an elite track record – that’s the kind of company we like to keep.

Trendy Headphones and Rockin Ad Music!!

Releasing an awesome ad-friendly catalog makes you want to…  jump! jump! no, wait……give away some headphones!

You’ll need some of these trendy LSTN headphones while you’re listening to Song Zu’s The :30 Spot – Music for Advertising.  Even Dave Grohl loves em and heck, he’s probably listening to Song Zu…..

Stay tuned as this is the first of a 10+ volume collection and don’t forget to click in to win!  Drawing takes place this Friday, June 7th!

And, of course, you can register to listen to all 7 of our ready to license catalogs here – go hear!

Dave Grohl Loves LSTN Headphones

Super (Bowl) Sonic Branding

It’s not just music they’re playing on those Super Bowl ads – the smart sponsors are applying Sonic Branding.

Sonic Branding done right reinforces memory recall and the message, and connects products and services with emotions. Combine story, visuals, and sound in an appealing alchemy – especially during the Super Bowl – and you’ve got a spot that everyone will be talking about at the water cooler for weeks. Later on, they’re revisiting it on YouTube.

It’s the reason that the aural jigsaw puzzle of three frogs croaking “Bud…Weis…Er” still stands out years later, as does “Have a Coke and a Smile” and Mean Joe Greene 33 years removed from its first airing, as well as the use of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” by Budweiser in the latest Super Bowl.

Stephen Arnold Music has assembled an all-time list of the Super Bowl spots that best used music and sound to their advantage, over the years. Ladies and gentlemen, drum roll please — we present the Super Sonics:

1) Coca Cola — Super Bowl XIII, 1979

Mean Joe Greene accepts a cool bottle from a kid, “Have a Coke and a Smile” kicks in, and Super Bowl sonic branding history was made forever. The positive associations from this ad endured for generations, as evidenced by the 2009 Super Bowl XLIII remake for Coke Zero featuring Troy Polamalu.


2) Chrysler — Super Bowl XLV, 2011

The darkly tense hip hop track captured the soul of the city, and perfectly reflected the spot’s visual imagery. This emotion-stirring “Imported from Detroit” commercial starring local artist Eminem inspired people to talk about Detroit — and Chrysler by extension.

3) Budweiser – Super Bowl, XXIV, 1995

Talk about a watercooler classic – the three frogs croaking “Bud…” “Weis…” “Er” strongly associated an innovative sound design with this iconic American brand. It was funny, and gave the world something they could gladly croak along to.

4) Volkswagen — Super Bowl XLV, 2011

A pint-sized Darth Vader used the Force when he discovered the all-new 2012 Volkswagen Passat in the driveway. The essential use of John Williams’ classic motif from the Star Wars franchise is a huge part of why this ad remains strong in people’s minds, two years later.

5) Budweiser – Super Bowl XLVII, 2013

The mega-brewer returns with “Brotherhood”, the tale of a trainer reunited with a beloved Clydesdale. Fleetwood Mac’s emotional “Landslide” was the perfect backing track – it’s oft-covered status makes it a song choice that spans time. Will people think of Budweiser now when they hear it on the air? We’re betting yes.

6) Coke – Super Bowl XXIV, 1990

Not surprising that brand messaging masters like Coke make these Super Bowl ad lists multiple times. Here, the famed “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke” theme is in full swing in a follow-up to the original commercial, called “Hilltop Reunion”, aired during coverage of Super Bowl XXIV featuring the singers and their children, and culminating in a medley of this song and the then-current “Can’t Beat the Real Thing” jingle. “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” has had a lasting connection with the viewing public. Advertising surveys consistently identify it as one of the best commercials of all time, and the sheet music continues to sell more than thirty years after the song was written.

7) Pepsi – Super Bowl XXIX, 1995

This spot, starring a kid sucking on a straw who launches himself straight into a Pepsi bottle, captures honors for its adventurous use of sound. In our humble opinions, the bold sound design is the true star here.

8) Old Milwaukee — Super Bowl XLVI, 2012

Already larger than life, Will Farrell expands still more into our universe with this grand vision. His heroic stroll through a field of hops takes on magnificent grandeur courtesy of the classical symphonic score that accompanies it. Intentionally jarring sound at the end provides an interesting counterpoint to everything that preceded it – part of a sound (and video) combo that makes this spot memorable.

9) Budweiser – Super Bowl XXXVI, 2002 Budweiser 9/11

Here is the famous commercial Budweiser produced after 9/11. They aired it only once — during Super Bowl XXXVI in February 2002. This one-minute spot features the beer company’s trademarked team of Clydesdale horses trudging across snow-covered ground into New York City where they stop to gaze upon the Statue of Liberty and the city’s skyline before lowering their heads on bended knees in a gesture of respect. Music and images drive the whole commercial – everything is very emotive, thanks to the simplicity of this moving tribute and the music.

10) Noxzema – Super Bowl VII, 1973

Joe Namath — and a jingle for the ages — stars here. “Let Noxzema cream your face, so the razor don’t!” is belted out by an unknown session singer, with massive levels of mucho gusto. We dare you to forget this jingle anytime soon. No, wait, we DOUBLE DOG DARE you. Some rockin’ funk makes this the grooviest shaving cream commercial in broadcast history. Meanwhile, onscreen, don’t miss the Most Obvious Lip Synch Ever Seen.

We continue to scrutinize the archives. Stay tuned, because we’ll add some more Super Sonics soon!

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