Stephen Arnold Music

The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America

Category Archives: Projects

The Company We Kept – in 2016

It was certainly a year to remember. I know I won’t forget it! Here at Stephen Arnold Music, we worked hard to help our clients be heard and stand out in 2016. And we helped them connect to their viewers and customers with custom music branding for news, sports and entertainment networks, global brands, video games and more.

“The critical importance of sonic branding is recognized across every industry,” says Stephen Arnold, President of Stephen Arnold Music. “Aural elements drive engagement, social sharing, purchase decisions, and loyalty like never before. It was extremely gratifying for all of us at Stephen Arnold Music to collaborate on so many forward-thinking campaigns in 2016.”

Here’s what we were up to last year:

CNN/HLN – “Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield”
I always love working with CNN. And I was thrilled that SAM was selected to work on the new nightly news program “Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield” on HLN. Monday through Thursday, the veteran journalist takes on the most pressing legal and social issues, trials and hot topics of the day. At SAM, we helped expose her expertise with a new musical theme; a strong sonic brand driven by distinctive strings, horns and assertive percussion that captures the spirit of “Primetime Justice.”

Gearbox Software – “Battleborn” Video Game
This was one of my favorite projects of the year. The elite developer Gearbox Software wanted an attention-grabbing, catchy and distinctive theme for the montage of character introductions in its “Battleborn” video game for Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC. And we gave it to them! Check out the memorable Player Select Theme, a guitar-driven composition that features catchy, aggressive hooks reflecting Battleborn’s rallying cry: “Calling All Badasses.” We had a blast using live drums, driving guitars, gang vocals, and a shredding prog-synth solo. I think it really leads players into the game…and I can still listen to it over and over again!

CNN/HLN – “How It Really Happened”
I like what HLN is doing with fresh, original content, with new offerings like “How It Really Happened” as the first of several new series. The show, hosted by actor Hill Harper, delves deeply into notorious crimes, mysteries, trials and celebrity tragedies. Our custom music package includes the show open and many other film score-style themes that capture the eerie atmospheres of the show. We also composed the show’s bumpers, commercial break intros/outros and additional cinematic elements, using consistent sonic branding.

UPS – International Communications Campaign
I wanted to see what WE could do for brown. Ha! UPS proved that it connects every corner of the Earth with their latest campaign, a set of compelling videos that demonstrates their global capabilities to audiences everywhere. I feel that our musical score was critical to the success of the project, providing a memorable musical theme that could also be adapted for Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. I love this track. It’s a really addictive beat produced
in step with the script, voiceover and visuals to drive powerful storytelling and an emotional connection with viewers worldwide. Brown, indeed!

CNN/HLN – Bleacher Report
Again, working with CNN is a blast! “Bleacher Report” is a cornerstone of sports coverage for CNN and its sister network HLN. I was really gratified that SAM was invited to create a fresh theme for this elite sports brand. We came up with a driving, indie rock-style sound, with live guitars, bass, drums – even handclaps – to give a fun and upbeat feel to one of media’s most recognizable sports brands.

CW33 – “Express Yourself” User Generated Content Campaign
This was an especially fun campaign, because we get to watch the station all the time! CW33-KDAF TV in Dallas/Ft. Worth really wanted want their station to be a part of their viewer’s daily conversation. So they created the engaging “Express Yourself” campaign, encouraging viewers to interact with the station by uploading and sharing fresh UGC (User Generated Content) consistent with the campaign’s motivational theme. We had a real chance to do a cool pop tune here. It’s catchy and original – a perfect up-tempo mashup of new school funk-pop and old-school Motown doo wop. We’re STILL dancing…

 

Everywhere I Go – Mega Guitar (and Uke) Giveaway!

UPDATE:  We have our winners!

Watch, Then Enter to Win One of Three Stunning Guitars!

We’ve NEVER done anything like this before! Here’s THREE chances to win a cool instrument, just by listening and commenting on our our brand-new multiplatform/social image package: “Everywhere I Go.”

1) First prize: Get your inner rockabilly on with this spectacular orange Gretsch 5420 Electromatic guitar.
2) Next up: A stunning Martin Koa Wood Acoustic/Electric guitar. Amaze your friends with your James Taylor covers!
3) Lastly: It seems EVERYONE is strumming a uke these days, so third place is an Oscar Schmidt Koa Wood Baritone Ukulele. You’ll be the hit of the campfire!

everywhere_guitar_montage_v2

To enter, just listen to the demo of our brand-new multiplatform/social image package: “Everywhere I Go,” and leave a comment below. We’ll print out all the comments, and draw three of them at random from our famous mystery fishbowl. Those three lucky winners will each take home one of these spectacular stringed instruments!

View more samples of “Everywhere I Go” here »

Drawing to be held on Thursday, September 29, 2016.  Click here for full contest rules and regulations.

*Note: all comments are moderated and may take up to 24 hours to appear.

Good luck!

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:

A Look Behind The Curtain – Creating “Guardian”

We are really excited about our latest news music branding package “Guardian”.  I was recently interviewed by NewscastStudio for a “behind the scenes” look at the new package and details about its creation and development.  There is a great deal of thought that goes into producing branded music for media.  Much more than just creating “cool” music, one must consider the brand objective, how it will live in various media environments, the target demographic, the context of how it will coexist with both content use and promotions, and both the art and science that go into creating a distinctive set of notes that will anchor a comprehensive, sonically-branded music toolkit.

String session for "Guardian" with Paul West, Chad Cook, and Mack Price

String session for “Guardian” with Paul West, Chad Cook, and Mack Price

I thought it would be interesting to share an excerpt from that article and interview:

Stephen Arnold Music recently developed a syndicated news music package that’s already debuted in five local markets, including WSB-TV and KIRO-TV. The package came about from a search for a fresh sound and production style that was more cinematic.  We recently had a chance to speak with Chad Cook, the VP of creative services at Stephen Arnold Music, about the package…

How did you find the style?

In recent years, we have been creating more and more sonic brands and custom music packages for international networks and channels – CCTV China, CNN International, Al Jazeera to name a few. Some of our international news music packages have been very percussion and texture based – more in the style of a modern, cinematic soundtrack for news programming.  So we drew upon some of these different production techniques as a base for creating this new package.

How would you describe the package and its sonic brand?

Historically, many news music packages have been all about being “big”, “loud”, “fast”, and “high-impact” – where you are pounding on your chest and almost yelling your presence to the viewer. With this package we wanted the impact to be more emotional and intelligent. The tone of this package is confident and empowered, and in-depth. There is a boldness to the package and musical signature, but it is achieved more through mood and textures than conventional musical methods.

The sonic logo/musical signature is very distinctive and memorable. We wanted this sonic logo to be very natural and musical to the ear – a simple melodic riff that you could easily play on a guitar or keyboard. Often times, news branding melodies use intervals, voicings, and harmonies that are more conducive to an orchestra or brass section.

We feel the sonic logo and musical style for this package is very contemporary, accessible, and relatable to a wide demographic – whether Baby Boomers, Generation X, and even Millennials. Not only is the production style very modern, but it’s very clean and uncluttered. It has a sound and feel that fits hand in glove with digital media sonic support and applications.

Why do you think the music has already seen such high pickup?

We are so excited that the package has already been picked up in several markets. I think that the unique sound and distinctive sonic brand of this package is really resonating with some stations that have been looking for a fresh approach to music for news content and promotion.  I feel like this is not your standard “news” package but more of a modern soundtrack for news with a clean, textural approach that is very digital content friendly as well.

You can check out the full interview here:

Guardian String Session

Guardian String Session

And here is a montage of the finished “Guardian” package: