Stephen Arnold Music

The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America

Tag Archives: CNN Headline News

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…

 

The Origins of Sonic Branding

There’s nothing new about the sonic brand, it’s been going on for tens of thousands of years. Think about the rooster crowing, the thunder from the lightning. All these things are basically the foundation of what a sonic brand is: They evoke an emotional response when somebody hears it.

What a sonic brand really does is evoke something in your brain that says, “Hey, go do this,” or “Get ready for that,” or “Watch out!” So when you heard thunder, you’d go into the cave for shelter, or when you heard the rooster crowing you knew it was time to get up and go to work plowing the fields. Or your brain would be able to differentiate between whether you were hearing a snake in the grass, or just the wind.

That’s the relationship from a psychological, scientific perspective of what sound does. It’s interesting because the only way sound can work that way is if it’s connected to something that happens over and over again: It’s the repetition of sound that causes us to say, “I need to go and do this now.”

Fast forward to today when you’ve got wide-reaching sonic signatures, like the ones my company has done for the Weather Channel or CNN Headline News. I don’t think these came about because mankind one day just said, “OK, we’re going to take a sound and exploit it.” It was obviously an evolutionary process. Because it went from being just nature to everything around us: the whistle of a train coming into a station, an alarm clock, a boiling coffee pot, your Blackberry, car keys in the ignition…you name it. If you made a list of all the sound signals you heard throughout the day, from the moment you woke up until you went to bed, it would be unbelievably long – you can’t consciously think about all the ways you use sounds in your life.

But at some point our tendency to associate sounds with events and reactions was recognized as, “We can use this to get people to remember our products or services.”

In the commercial aspect, many times a listener feels like they hate a sonic brand, and they’ll say, “I don’t want to hear that again.” But as we point out in some of our presentations, “Sometimes you love it. Sometimes you hate it. And sometimes you hate that you love it!”

Looking back at the origins of sonic branding

Stephen Arnold, President of Stephen Arnold Music, is recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts in the use of sound and music to identify a company or a product – otherwise known as sonic branding. His company’s “Commanding Sonic Branding” approach has brought an unforgettable audio signature to some of the world’s top brands, including The Weather Channel CNN Headline News, Fox Business Channel, HD Net, ESPN Outdoors, The French Open (Tennis Channel), Dan Rather Reports, as well as 150+ stations across America.

In this new weekly series, Stephen Arnold gives readers his insights on this deep topic. The first edition begins with a look back at the origins of sonic branding.

Q: When and where did sonic branding begin?
A: There’s nothing new about the sonic brand, it’s been going on for tens of thousands of years. Think about the rooster crowing, the thunder from the lightning. All these things are basically the foundation of what a sonic brand is: They evoke an emotional response when somebody hears it.

What a sonic brand really does is evoke something in your brain that says, “Hey, go do this,” or “Get ready for that,” or “Watch out!” So when you heard thunder, you’d go into the cave for shelter, or when you heard the rooster crowing you knew it was time to get up and go to work plowing the fields. Or your brain would be able to differentiate between whether you were hearing a snake in the grass, or just the wind.

That’s the relationship from a psychological, scientific perspective of what sound does. It’s interesting because the only way sound can work that way is if it’s connected to something that happens over and over again: It’s the repetition of sound that causes us to say, “I need to go and do this now.”

Q: Fast forward to today – how did this lead to famous sonic signatures like your Weather Channel ID, or the sound of CNN Headline News?
A: I don’t think mankind one day just said, “OK, we’re going to take a sound and exploit it.” It was obviously an evolutionary process. Because it went from being just nature to everything around us: the whistle of a train coming into a station, an alarm clock, a boiling coffee pot, your Blackberry, car keys in the ignition…you name it. If you made a list of all the sound signals you heard throughout the day, from the moment you woke up until you went to bed, it would be unbelievably long – you can’t consciously think about all the ways you use sounds in your life.

But at some point our tendency to associate sounds with events and reactions was recognized as, “We can use this to get people to remember our products or services.”
In the commercial aspect, many times a listener feels like they hate a sonic brand, and they’ll say, “I don’t want to hear that again.” But as we point out in some of our presentations, “Sometimes you love it. Sometimes you hate it. And sometimes you hate that you love it!”

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