Stephen Arnold Music

The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America

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Spotlight On SAM……..Chad Cook

Hey Everyone!

Throughout the year we’ll be highlighting some individuals here at Stephen Arnold Music.  The names and faces behind the music!  As you can imagine, it’s not just late night recording sessions and high profile clients… there’s blood, sweat, and tears that go into every part of our company – from our awesome sales team chasing down leads, to our admin folks answering the phones and drawing up contracts.  Everyone’s got their own story, so we recently sat down with our Creative Director, Chad Cook.  We asked him a few questions, and he was happy enough to let us know.

Our Creative Director Mixing It up!

Our Creative Director Mixing It up!

 What was the first album you bought or remember listening to?

I was obsessed with vinyl records as a toddler and child.  I called them “goo-gahs”.  I had many 45s and full sized records and would take them everywhere with me, including the bathtub, pool, etc.  Needless to say, many of them were not in the greatest of shape when I would try to play them.  I’m told I was writing little songs and melodies on my toy piano from the time I could stand up.  My favorite music and bands at a young age were The Beatles, Donovan, The Monkeys, Elton John, Paul McCartney and Wings, and ELO.  The earliest albums that I remember playing over and over were The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s and Magical Mystery Tour, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and Donovan’s Barabajagal.  I remember being particularly infatuated with Donovan’s song “Atlantis” and The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life”.  A 45 single I remember playing over and over when I was very young was “Put The Lime In The Coconut” by Harry Nilsson.  Some trivia – I met and shook Paul McCartney’s hand in NYC a few years ago.  But that tale is for another time.

 What was your first musical instrument?

Pipe OrganMy first true musical instrument was a black Steinway baby grand piano when I was 9 years old (I still have it).  I took piano lessons for many years, but spent most of my time writing my own songs and was never really interested in playing songs I did not write myself.  Also, my father and uncle donated a pipe organ to our church when I was 8 years old.  The church was near our house, so they would let me come in and play when it was unoccupied.  I thought that was the coolest thing ever and remember many days after school experimenting and playing with that organ.




Today you produce branded music packages for some of the biggest networks in the world. How did you first learn to write / produce or learn music production?

Home Studio - 1987Keyboards and programming songs became a reality when I was in high school in the 1980s, and my passion became writing songs with MIDI and collecting keyboards and sound modules so I could create and produce songs from start to finish.  That led to purchasing 4 and 8 track tape recorders, a mixer, and some microphones so I could record vocals and harmonies.  The first computer I used to program MIDI was an Apple IIe with 128k of memory.  The program I used was called “Texture” and would only allow you to program 8 tracks of MIDI.  Back then, most keyboards were not “multi-timbral” so you only had one or two sounds coming out of each keyboard.  So I literally had around 7-8 keyboards, each being triggered to play an assigned sound through MIDI.  My original collection of keyboards included an Emulator 2 HD, Mirage sampler, Casio CZ1, Korg DW8000, Casio RZ1 drum machine, Roland D-10, Ensoniq ESQ1, and an Oberheim OB-8.

As time went on, multi-timbral sound modules became available so there was no need to have so many actual keyboards to generate all those sounds.  But those days were great because each keyboard had a distinct sound to it, so you would spend time on each instrument finding or programming each sound you needed for each part of the song.  And in the case of the samplers, often creating your own sounds by sampling directly into microphones and then manipulating the sounds with various filters and oscillators.  The most elaborate and powerful tool at the time was my Emulator 2HD which you have all seen in the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.  It was a very high-end sampler and allowed for getting very creative with my own sounds.  At that time, new wave bands like Depeche Mode, OMD, Tears For Fears, New Order, and The Eurythmics were using the Emulator samplers as a big part of their sound.

Did you ever have a band or perform live?

I formed a band called “New Life” when I was a junior in high school, as I wanted to be able to play some of my songs live.  We played at some clubs in Dallas and at some high school parties and functions.  I had a bass player, guitar player, and a keyboardist.  I would have to bring all of my keyboards and my computer in order to play all the parts that were not being played live (and there were many parts not being played live).  I would set-up each song on the computer with an intro click track and then the band would play their parts as I would perform the vocals.

How’d the gigs go?

I never really liked playing live very much as it was such a hassle to get everything set-up and haul so much equipment around.  I found that what I really liked was the creative process in the studio.  To create something out of nothing, enjoy the moment you finish it, and then move onto the next idea and creation.  I’ve never been one to linger.  It’s go, go, go – onto the next.


Guess we have to ask you what your favorite color is and what you do when you’re not here at the studio!

My favorite colors are blue and green, so it’s no wonder I love nature and the outdoors – biking, camping, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, boating, and skiing.  I love traveling and experiencing new cultures, countries, people, art, and cuisines.  I’m a huge sports fan and, in particular, like football, basketball, and hockey – my favorite teams are all from Dallas, so of course the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks. I love to read, educate myself, and grow as a person.  I love the mountains, but if I had to choose, I would choose the beach, as nothing soothes my spirit more than the ocean.  I am passionate about wine and the art and history of it in different cultures and regions.  I live in McKinney, TX with my wife Michelle and son Keegan.  I love my family, and nothing means more to me.  We live near the wonderful, historic town square and close to the Stephen Arnold Music studios, so life is good.  I’ve enjoyed carrying on my passion of creating and producing music and ideas with Stephen and our great team here at Stephen Arnold Music for over 20 years now and look forward to many more.  There is nothing better than waking up each day knowing that the next project will bring, yet again, the challenge of creating something out of nothing.

Chad with Stephen on the Great Wall Of China (producing a project for CCTV China)

Chad with Stephen on the Great Wall Of China (producing a project for CCTV China)

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!!

Listen. Enter. Win! It’s a Resonator Guitar Giveaway


Okay, here’s your chance to win one of the coolest guitars from Stephen’s personal collection – his 2007 Dean Chrome and Gold Acoustic-Electric Resonator!

This axe, one of Stephen’s favorites, is more of a hybrid than anything. You have the sound & tone of a true resonator, but the playability and upper neck access of an electric or really great acoustic guitar. It has a magnetic “lipstick” pickup and a piezo electric pickup, which gives you the ability to produce both electric and acoustic tones.

And who knows, master it and become the next Billy Gibbons of Texas’ own ZZ Top (maybe that’s a stretch but he owns one as well!).

All you have to do is:
1)  Listen to our four most recent news branding packages, and
2) Comment on which one is your favorite:  iNergy, This Is The Place, All About Early, or Canvas
(and feel free to tell us why you liked one more than the others…)

After that, your name will go directly into the hat… and you’ll be instantly eligible for the Dean Resonator — IT’S THAT EASY!

The drawing for the giveaway will be on Thursday, April 3rd, 2014.
Here’s a photo of your potential future Dean:

Listen to the packages here and leave a comment below:


This is the Place

All About Early


Click here for contest rules and eligibility requirements.

Christmas CD Benefitting Little Kids Rock!!

Stephen Arnold with some of the “little kid rockers” at an LKR benefit showcase - Two Old Hippies Guitar Shop in Nashville.

Stephen Arnold with some of the “little kid rockers” at an LKR benefit showcase – Two Old Hippies Guitar Shop in Nashville.

Little Kids receiving guitars at a workshop in Chicacgo.

Little Kids receiving guitars at a workshop in Chicago.

Seasons Greetings, Everyone!

The holidays are here, and this year has a special meaning. I’d like to invite you to help us raise awareness for a great little cause with a very big heart.

It’s Little Kids Rock, a fantastic nonprofit dedicated to revitalizing music education in America. With your help, Little Kids Rock provides free instruments and music lessons to underserved public school kids, coast-to-coast.

Last year we produced a special CD called The Six Strings of Christmas, an album of holiday arrangements performed by our family of studio musicians — those great players we work with every day. They donated their services, and we all donated our time to make it happen, resulting in a collection of 16 great acoustic yuletide classics all played on a six-string… well, with a few 4, 8, and 12 strings thrown in just for fun.

Thanks to the generosity of clients and friends like you, we were able to give $3,000 to Little Kids Rock.

We’re at it again this year, and here’s the best part: just like last year…100% of each $9.99 CD purchase goes directly to Little Kids Rock.

Purchase your copy of The Six Strings Of Christmas here with all proceeds benefitting Little Kids Rock

One of my favorite videos is watching the faces of these kids as they each receive a guitar at this Little Kids Rock workshop.

You can click here to learn more about Little Kids Rock and listen to The Six Strings of Christmas CD by clicking here.


Thank you so much for you help. Happy Holidays, and thanks for helping Little Kids Rock!

Anatomy of a Road Worn Guitar

Everyone’s got that dog-eared book that’s barely held together at the binding from so many reads. Or that old holey t-shirt you can’t stop wearing. Or a ratty pair of sneakers you’ve had since high school. They’re comforting and comfortable and loved from overuse.

Instruments are very much the same – they grow with a person over the years in a symbiotic relationship. Dings and scratches mysteriously appear and eventually turn into holes and cracks. But rather than diminishing their sound, or appearance, or even their value – these are battle scars that define the personality of an instrument.

In recent years the ‘Road-worn guitar’ has become a sought-after item. Fender regularly distresses new guitars to give them that old feeling. But you can’t build “Trigger” in a day (Willie Nelson’s beloved classical guitar). It takes years of playing, frustration, and ‘eureka’ moments.

There are LOTS of guitars here at our studio, many dating back decades, even a century or more. And plenty have been played and played and played. But there is at least one guitar here that really shows what the power of playing can do to an instrument.

It’s a 1970 Guild D-40 NT. Serial number 48537. Its fret board is literally gouged out from thousands of hours of playing. Its pick guard not only isn’t there, it was essentially falling apart around the sound hole until a luthier worked his magic. The finish on the back of the neck is visibly worn off, as it is on the back of the body from rubbing against a belt buckle as it was played on stage.

On a personal note, I learned guitar on this Guild and it’s still almost my favorite acoustic to play (my own 2000 Martin D-28 has top honors!)

But don’t take my word for it – see for yourself in these pictures. And if you’ve got your own road-worn guitar we’d love to see it.


Station Summit 2013

We’re back (and well-rested) after a fantastic Promax Station Summit 2013. The conference was better than ever… and Vegas was hotter than ever! We saw all the usual suspects as well as some new faces with the addition of FPEC and our Telemundo amigos.

Congrats to all the Promax Silver and Gold winners! We’re elated to have won a Gold for our music/image campaign This Is The Place.

Congrats to WALA’s Sam Day who picked up the much-coveted Neil Young signed tele!

Thanks to everyone who came out for our third annual Thursday night acoustic jam. We loved having Greg Barnhill join us this year – as well as so many of our talented clients and friends who joined him at the mic. And we finally put the suite’s sunken tub to good use this year… Bathtub of beer!!!

See everyone next year!

Promax & Station Summit 2013 – See you There!!


So once again Promax is upon us and SAM will be there to booze and schmooze with the best in the TV broadcast industry!  We’ve got some new products to roll out – including the industry’s first fully searchable, keyword tagged online delivery for our syndicated packages - and if you’re attending the Station Summit in Las Vegas, then you won’t want to miss our legendary after hours Acoustic Jam Session (now in its 3rd year!)

Stephen will be presenting as part of a panel called “Hits and Misses 2013″ in Promax LA.  on Thursday, June 20th (check your conference guide for time and locations). He and other top producers, composers and music supervisors will look at case studies of where music did and did not work in particular projects.  Stephen’s been asked to present as an expert on custom music and sonic branding, which we’re very excited about!  Check him out on this list of Promax speakers here »

And don’t forget to stop by our ‘booth’ on the floor whether you’re at Promax LA or Station Summit where you’ll find 4 guitars on display in museum style displays for 360 views.  3 are from Stephen’s personal collection and featured in the book A Story of Six Strings.  The 4th display will be one of 2 guitars we’re giving away – either a 1930s National TriCone resonator replica (produced by Johnson) or a Neil Young SIGNED Fender Tele.  So stop by, have a chat, drop your card in the box and maybe walk away with an awesome guitar.

Good Luck and hope to see you there, whether LA or Vegas!

For more info on both conferences:

PromaxBDA Station Summit Las Vegas »

PromaxBDA: The Conference Los Angeles »

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 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

“All About Early” Santa Fe Trip Giveaway!

Update:  And the winner is …


The time for another Stephen Arnold Music giveaway has arrived – but this one goes beyond guitars.

You can win a 4-day, 3-night trip for 4 to our awesome house and studio in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico!  Imagine waking up in a beautiful Old World manor with a view of the Jemez and Sangre de Christo mountain ranges, eating breakfast on one of the decks, and going into town for some shopping or skiing … you deserve it!

Wondering how to enter?

It’s easy: Simply listen to our expanded “All About Early” audio/video campaign bundle – which now includes a new morning show package and image song.  Just leave a comment below to be eligible for the giveaway.

All elegible entries will be placed into our trusty fishbowl, and a winner will be drawn on Friday, June 7th.

For a full description of the house, as well as all the rules and regulations for the drawing, please click here.

Good luck, everyone!!


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