Stephen Arnold Music

The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America

Category Archives: Sonic Branding

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…


Top 50 Most Loved Sounds

At Stephen Arnold Music, we are obsessed with sonic branding.  Our mission, on every project, is to create a distinctive melody or sound that will connect a brand or product to its target audience.

brainSound and music share a unique quality. They can both trigger memories – and emotional responses.  A certain song can remind you of the first person you fell in love with, a sporting event, a certain year in high school, a sad moment, or a memorable trip with good friends.  Even simple sounds – the crackle of a fire, church bells ringing, crickets chirping, or water running through a stream – can make you feel a certain way.

opening-can-of-sodaWhen associated with a brand or product, music and sound work the same way.  For example, think of the music from Star Wars, or Monday Night Football – or the simple, relaxing sound of the ocean featured on Corona beer commercials.


Popping bubble wrapEven more interesting is that, with frequency and consistency over time, music or a certain sound ALONE can trigger the recollection of an entire brand, including a logo, characters, personalities, and of course, the product itself.  It’s really amazing how people respond to sounds and melodies in such distinct ways.


Baby laughingThe Telegraph, a newspaper/publication in the UK, put together a list of the “Top 50 Most Loved Sounds.”  I found the list fascinating – especially the emotions, thoughts, and images that passed through my mind as I read each item. So I thought it would be fun to share that Top 50 list. And when you read through it, observe what goes through your mind in terms of images, memories, and emotional responses.


  1. Waves against rocks
  2. Rain against the windowsrain-on-window
  3. Treading on snow
  4. Baby laughing
  5. Birds chirping
  6. Crackling open fire
  7. People laughing
  8. Leaves crunching beneath your feet
  9. Cat purring
  10. Church bells in the distance
  11. Thunder
  12. Wind passing through leaves of a tree
  13. Piano playing
  14. Owl hooting
  15. Bacon sizzling
  16. Sound of the sea in a conch shell
  17. Pouring wine
  18. Pebbles thrown into water
  19. Fireworks
  20. Choir singing
  21. Steam train whistle
  22. Popping a corkchampagne__1882471a
  23. Electric guitar
  24. Bubble wrap popping
  25. Whale calling
  26. Fizzy drink poured on ice
  27. People laughing/screaming on rollercoasters
  28. Roar of a Ferrari engine
  29. Cricket bat hitting a cricket ball
  30. Bumblebee buzzing
  31. Piercing foil on a new jar of coffee
  32. Popping popcorn
  33. Violin
  34. Seagulls calling
  35. Crickets
  36. Fairground music
  37. Formula one car engine
  38. Arcade/amusement games
  39. Crunch of biting an appleBite into apple
  40. Lawn mowers in the summer
  41. Clock ticking
  42. Opening of a fizzy can
  43. Cockerel calling
  44. Airplane taking off
  45. Underground train approaching
  46. Kettle boiling
  47. Crowds chanting at a football match
  48. Clatter of coins
  49. Tea spoon clinking
  50. Clapping

Old School

There’s just something so lost in today’s working world. With all the newest technology, our tablets and smartphones are the way we communicate. What ever happened to the good ol’ fashioned, face-to-face conversation … you know, with eye contact and actually having to use your voice to talk (and ears to listen)? Or heaven forbid the phone call? It seems having to have a two-way conversation is just so “old school.”

At SAM, though, we truly believe in the power of relationships, and we strive to build on those relationships year after year. We don’t do it by sending an email every-now-and-again or just a blog post here and there. It’s nearly impossible to build a relationship with someone through email and text messages, so we do it by making sure we’re actually talking with our clients. We want to find out what they truly need and how we can best help them. We try to understand where they are coming from so that we can turn around music that will knock their socks off. Yes, the music our guys produce is amazing (I’m pretty biased), but if we didn’t truly LISTEN to their needs/wants we wouldn’t be able to be as spot-on with their direction. We try to nail it the first time for our clients and be as efficient as possible because time is of the essence, right? Everybody needs something yesterday — and we come through for them, time and time again.

But wait, that’s not all — we like visiting our clients too! That whole face-to-face communication thing is kind of a big deal to us. There is something so great about going to a small town and walking into a news studio to meet with a client. You get to know their world — what makes the station tick, what they stand for. You get to meet their producers and engineers and see how they all operate. In short, you get to KNOW them! The road trips and plane rides are so worth it to us. We want to develop a meaningful relationship with our clients. All the conferences, the happy hours, the parties (and we throw some pretty awesome parties!) are 100% geared towards getting to know people. Matching a face to a name is so fun! Getting to make eye contact and have an actual conversation is so important to us. The thing is, music is our specialty; it’s what we do … always changing, and trends will come and go … but relationships are our passion. That’s the heartbeat of SAM.

So … just call us “old school”, I guess!

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Play Ball!!!

opening-dayThis past Sunday was officially the return of America’s pastime, Opening Day for Major League Baseball – a time to escape our busy lives and enjoy nine innings of a game full of tradition.

Baseball is not only big in America. I came from Venezuela, and baseball is “the sport” everybody follows. I have been playing baseball since I learned how to walk, from little league until college. One of my best memories as a child was sitting in the 4th row behind third base at the Jose Bernardo Perez Stadium in the city of Valencia, with my dad, watching our team play.

One of the things I like about baseball are the traditions, especially the music and sounds of the game. And working in the industry, I’d like to talk a little about their importance.

Music plays a big role in sporting events. Most sports have a specific piece of music or a specific instrument or sound that plays at particular times, and baseball is no exception. There are unique sounds that are easily identified with the game. From the sound of the ball hitting a wooden bat, to the slide into second base, to the umpire yelling, “Play ball,” these sounds are easily connected to baseball and have become a sonic brand for the game.

In baseball, the fan’s interaction with the music is an important part of the game. The instrument most used in baseball stadiums is the Hammond organ. This instrument helps cheer on teams during specific moments of the game. The organ was introduced at Chicago’s Wrigley Field back in 1941 and spread to most of the major league parks by the 1960’s. Now it’s a signature of the game! You hear the organ, and you immediately relate it to baseball.

One instance is the short, six-note organ fanfare, followed by a crowd shouting “Charge!” It’s a perfect example of sonic branding in everyday life.

Another great tradition is the 7th inning stretch. For many parks, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, a 1908 Tin Pan Alley song written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer, has become the unofficial anthem of North American baseball. Hearing that song puts you back in the stadium seats, eating a hot dog (or peanuts and crackerjack) and cheering for your team.

Throughout the years SAM has composed music for teams like the Rangers and Red Sox, to name a couple. We’re big fans of the game here at SAM, and we all enjoying talking about our team. Last year, we went together to the ballpark and had a great time! We hope to make this an annual tradition here at Stephen Arnold Music, much like our State Fair Day.11817141_10153458613730242_5288382200463649750_n

IMG_0337For some people, this is only a game. For me, this is family time and good memories to share with my kids. And hopefully, they enjoy this game as much as I do.

So for all you baseball fans out there, Happy Opening Day! And Go Rangers!!

It’s the Sound of the Story

Hey Clients & Friends! Happy Tuesday!

I know many of you spend your days looking for new ways to promote your station, network, show or product. So the next time you need to produce a promo, try a different creative approach:  login to your music library FIRST. That might sound completely backwards, but music is actually your most effective tool to evoke an emotional response. Login to a great production music library (might I suggest The Vault by Stephen Arnold Music?!?) and dig around a bit. Find a track that conveys your desired emotion – then build your pictures and words AROUND the music.

WFAA called us up last year looking for a fun track with a lot of movement for a new morning promo. They selected “Peanuts” from The Vault’s Song Zu library and built the promo around the track. We think it turned out really great! Here’s the spot:

Graeme Newell featured the promo in his “Local TV News Marketing: What’s Working, What’s Not & Why” – it’s in the what’s working category, around the 27:20 mark. 🙂

And if you’re working on a news promo – don’t forget about your news music package! If you’re working with a SAM package, it’s deep…like hundreds of cuts deep. Many stations are only using maybe 15% of their news music package, which means you’re already sitting on a treasure trove of sonically branded music. And the Stephen Arnold Music packages are hosted on the same search and download site that we use for The Vault. If you have BOTH products, you can check out a plethora of options – in one place!

If you’d like our help with a playlist, feel free to give us a buzz. We’re putting them together all day long for clients. We can send you something great we just pulled for another client – or we can put one together just for you. Easy peasy!