Stephen Arnold Music

The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America

Tag Archives: Local TV

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…

 

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:

Local TV News Growth – Exciting Trends

Clients keep telling me about the new newscasts they’re launching and so, anecdotally, I know local news is doing well. But last week, Stephen forwarded to me a recent study from the Pew Research Center. Their research concluded that local television’s average viewership grew in 2014. And those gains were predominately made in nontraditional timeslots – namely the very early, midday, and 7pm. Although these newscasts still account for a small percentage of total viewers, they are showing solid growth. The 7pm time slot has grown by 8% over the last five years. And last year, that same time slot saw an 11% increase from 2013.

Pew didn’t dive into who these viewers are or why they’re tuning into local news at these nontraditional hours, but the steady viewership gains is a good reason for stations to seriously consider these timeslots and how they’re approaching them – both their content and their creative. It’s important to connect with these viewers by making your presentation appropriate for the time of day, the mood they’re in, what they’re doing, and the news they are absorbing.

Music is a great way to connect with viewers and drive the pace of the show with daypart-appropriate tracks. All of our news music packages have a plethora of themes written to connect with the audience during every daypart. If, for example, you’re using the same one or two tracks for every open, you’re missing out on an inexpensive and easy-to-implement way to set the tone of your show. And if you’re too short on time to carefully comb through your music package to find the right tracks for all of your shows, well… I happen to know some great creative guys that would be happy to take that on for you.

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Give us a call and we’ll arrange for a complete review of your newscasts. The SAM creative team will make sure all of your newscasts are utilizing the perfect tracks for the audience and daypart to keep your ratings growth on track.

NAB: Small Market Television Exchange…Everything but SMALL

My first ever SMTE conference, in San Antonio, Texas, was much bigger and better than I could’ve imagined! I mean—Small Market—it’s right up my alley being from a tiny little town in Arkansas. These guys really are the heart and soul of their towns. I remember what a big deal it was when the local news stations would come to our high school football games to get highlights for the 10pm news–Talk about some excited kids, doing everything they could to be on TV!

I had a blast manning the SAM exhibit. We definitely stood out—I mean we were giving away a vintage ’77 Takamine 12 String signed by James Taylor…HELLO! Can’t tell you how many people asked me if they could drop their entire stack of business cards in the ballot box!

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This year’s guitar giveaway turned out to be a pretty cool moment. David Praga, GM at KIMA in Pasco, WA was the card that I drew from the fishbowl. I immediately start cheering and congratulating him—grab the guitar off the stand—and happily hand it over to him. To my surprise, and every other person standing there for that matter—HE GAVE IT AWAY!!!! Yes, you read that correctly—HE GAVE IT AWAY. He handed this gorgeous, sought after guitar over to Bob Berry, his Station Manager. Bob was like a kid at Christmas! Beyond excited! He is a huge guitar junkie, and had come by our booth a few times just to admire it—always reminding me that it was going to be HIS guitar this year. And then low and behold—he got his wish. Such a cool moment to witness. There ARE some pretty great bosses out there, right? Loved it.

I met so many great people who, like me, love and appreciate their small towns. I am grateful to have met such passionate, hard-working people.

Can’t wait to build on these relationships made, and already looking forward to seeing them all next year!

PromaxBDA: NYC and Station Summit …. Done!

Sometimes being the “new kid on the block” has its perks! Especially when it means joining the Stephen Arnold Music team just in time for their Promax conferences in NYC and Las Vegas!

PromaxDBA: The Conference in New York was the beginning of a whole new world for me. So much to soak up, in so little time! Amidst all the hustle and meeting new clients, I was able to sit in on Stephen and Chad leading a session featuring the huge project of rebranding CCTV China’s foreign language channels. Completely blew my mind. It was so fun sitting next to a couple of guys from ESPN and getting to say “Isn’t that awesome?? They did all of our custom music!” I was beaming with pride just being a part of SAM and everything that it implies.

It was also great getting to meet some of our partners at The Brand Gallery — what a cool group they are! I am super excited to work closely with them on upcoming projects. It honestly felt like going to meet extended family at Thanksgiving — I could quickly tell that these guys love SAM, and we love them. They are OUR extended family here, and couldn’t be happier about that.

Overall, just the energy of Promax NY was exhilarating and left me wanting more. I was ready for round #2 in Vegas for sure!

And oh how Vegas did NOT disappoint! The Station Summit was a full 5 days of meeting clients and hosting happy hours in our SAM suite. We couldn’t go out without a bang of course … the annual SAM party jam session was a little “too rowdy” for the Mirage, and security shut us down just after 11pm! It’s apparent that SAM likes to have fun, y’all!

The best part about the TONS of new people that I met, they all had one thing in common: Raving fans of Stephen Arnold Music. They all went on and on about how great it is to work with SAM, how the music is incomparable to anything else they’ve heard, how much they love the people at SAM they get to work with … just kept going! Again, beaming with pride that I get the opportunity to be a part of a worthwhile company like SAM. It’s not every day that a stranger riding up the elevator with you looks at your badge and says, “Aren’t you lucky?! You get to work for Stephen Arnold Music!” The reputation that we have is incredible. Easily the coolest thing about getting to attend these conferences as the “newbie”— feeling like I was getting to tag along with ROCKSTARS! Everyone knows SAM!

I’m over the moon excited to join the Stephen Arnold Music team and can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get to work!

 

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