Stephen Arnold Music

The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America

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It’s VIEW-tiful up here…

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…

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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!

2015 – Is it Over Yet?

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:

SAM’s Journey to the Far East!

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.

 

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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!

Right-Handed Lefties and Left-Handed Righties…My obsession with Hendrix and upside down Stratocasters

As many of you know, Jimi Hendrix was left-handed, but played a right-handed Fender Stratocaster – turned upside down! I’ve always been fascinated with not only the sound of Hendrix on that right-handed upside-down Strat, but with the way it looked as well. There’s something about the whammy bar on top and the tuners on the bottom.  I was really intrigued, so number of years ago I bought a righty Strat, turned it upside-down and restrung it. This was definitely the closest I’d ever come to sounding like Hendrix! I even had a friend “distress” it to make it look like it was 50+ years old, and went so far as to put cigarette burns on the headstock. (see me with my Strat below)

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Well, I never actually knew what made his distinctive sound so unique. Then I ran across this article in Popular Mechanics magazine about how flipping and restringing a standard right-handed Fender Stratocaster fundamentally changes the string tension and microphone location. That’s what produced Hendrix’s signature mix of bright highs and delicate lows.

 

Here are the highlights:

 

  • The rear pickup on the traditional Stratocaster is intentionally slanted – capturing the higher strings near their base – where they have a more piercing tone. On Hendrix’s guitar, it catches the higher strings farther up, so instead of shrieking, they sing.

 

  • Guitar pickups are mini-microphones, with a pole magnet aligned below each string. And the distance between the magnet and the string varies for each string. But by reversing the orientation of the traditional Stratocaster, Hendrix changed which strings were closest to their magnets, and consequently, most prominent in the mix. Pretty crazy stuff.

 

  • Conversely, Hendrix’s low strings were comparatively tighter, which made them sound less booming and twangy.

 

  • On a traditional Strat, the highest strings (E, B) are the longest. When turned upside-down, they become the shortest, so they don’t have to be pulled as tightly to be in tune. For Hendrix, that made them easier to bend, like on “All Along the Watchtower.”

 

  • Fender’s headstock design makes every string a different length, so restringing the guitar upside-down changed which strings were longest. This altered the subtle overtones produced by vibrations on the unplayed part of the string above the top of the neck, near the tuning keys.

 

What’s really amazing is that I doubt Hendrix ever thought about any of this. He just had a tough time finding a decent left-handed guitar, especially back in the day. So Instead, he snagged a cool Strat , flipped it over, restrung it, and ta-da! The rest is history.

 

 

 

 

From http://www.popularmechanics.com/culture/music/a17922/jimi-hendrix-backwards-stratocaster/

 

What’s Printed Where – Free Sonic Branding LP

Free Vinyl LP

We here at SAM can’t resist having fun with music – in all its forms. Now we’re doing it again with the latest in our series of limited edition vinyl releases.

Behold our latest creation, “What’s Printed Where.”

What’s the deal?

Well, take a clear vinyl record that you can see through. Next, slip it into a transparent sleeve with a yellow image, then slide that sleeve into an album cover which is also clear, but with a blue image, and voila – it’s green!

You are now looking at a very cool LP fresh off the press from SAM – our 3rd generation sample reel – which isn’t really a reel but a vinyl record (hint: usually works best with a turntable.)

Thus our newest Stephen Arnold Music Vinyl is appropriately titled “What’s Printed Where,” since we never really knew what was going to be printed where.

The fun part is when you first receive your LP, you’ll notice the revamped image of our original sonically branded lady: a girl with a shaved head whom we have always internally referred to as “Mary.” Once again Mary is on our new vinyl, only now she’s green with red ear buds.

But once you pull the sleeve from the LP cover, it turns out our Mary is actually blue…but in fact on the sleeve she’s yellow. Confused? We are too! So let’s all roll with it – because if you reassemble the sleeve out of sequence, you may well see Mary in a totally different light (color, that is).

And as a special bonus, you’ll notice a credit card that we’ve slipped into the LP jacket and, depending on how rough the mail service was and where the card ends up inside the cover…. this card could be green, blue or yellow – until you pull it out and see it’s actually white.

And actually, it’s not a free credit card (sorry!) but a flash drive with all the music contained on the vinyl — for those of you that have retired your turntables. It’s music from our amazing partners we are privileged to work with like CNN, Golf Channel, CCTV China, ABC, ESPN, MSNBC, FOX Business, National Geographic Channel, Time Warner and over 300 local television stations.

Know what’s printed where now? If not, just listen: It’ll all make sense to your ears. And Kudos to Doug Rucker and his amazing team at Rucker and Co. in Dallas for creating something which is nothing short of creative genius.  http://www.ruckerandco.com

To request your free LP just click on the email link below. It’s that easy!

sam@stephenarnoldmusic.com

Or give us a call at:
214.726.1600

We look forward to hearing from you!

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