The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America
Tag Archives: Stephen Arnold Music
June 15, 2016Posted by on
The summer is definitely heating up here in Texas, so naturally we’re sending anyone that can go to this year’s Promax events: PromaxBDA in New York City and, of course, our annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for Station Summit! If you get a chance to attend either event, you’ve got to check out our “Guitar Gods” and “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” (Beatles) guitar displays – and be sure to drop your card in for a chance to win one of the 5 (yes, FIVE) guitars that Stephen will be giving away.
Now, you may ask yourself, “why does Stephen Arnold have so many guitars?” – which is a very good question. Or, like me, you may be asking “why in the world would you want to give away your own guitars???” – which is an even better question!
I can’t pretend to know why someone would want to give away guitars, but I can speak a bit as to why Stephen feels the need to give each amazing guitar a home whenever he sees it hanging in a guitar shop.
My grandfather once told me a story. He was trying to get his son out the door to school, and like many pre-teens, his son was obsessed with all things music – playing Beatles 45’s in his room and banging on his guitar – a cheap 1959 Sears Silvertone. My grandfather yelled up the stairs, “Hurry up – and stop playing those records!” to which his son called out “I’m not playing any records!” My grandfather replied that he was going to the kitchen to get his coffee and when he got back, his son better be ready to go – and NOT be playing records.
When my grandfather returned to the bottom of the stairs, he STILL heard music coming from his son’s bedroom. So he marched up the stairs, opened the door and said “I told you to stop playing those records!” His son was sat on his bed, guitar in hand and replied, “Dad, I told you – I wasn’t playing records!” He had been playing his guitar instead – and was already so good that his father couldn’t tell the difference between the recordings and his son’s playing!
Well, as you may have guessed, his son is my dad – Stephen Arnold.
And I have personal knowledge that the love of guitars has stayed with my father throughout his entire life. And he loves to share it with everybody, so it’s not surprising that he also loves to give away the thing that he loves – his guitars! It’s no wonder that the guitar is the unofficial symbol of Stephen Arnold Music.
Here are some of my favorites out of his collection:
May 17, 2016Posted by on
I remember back in the summer of 2011 getting a call from Texas photographer Chris Fritchie. “I have this idea,” began our phone conversation, “May I borrow a couple of your favorite guitars for a few days? . . . Trust me,” he said. Chris has a passion for music – especially guitars – and what he always loved about talking “guitars” with me was that it was never about the most expensive or unique guitar, but rather how these instruments capture a moment, a place in time. . .
So he came by and I gave him two of my favorites – my 1934 Martin 018 and a 1969 Fender Strat. Then a few days later he called and asked, “by the way, are there any stories behind these guitars?”
I’d never really thought about the stories behind those guitars, but all at once the memories kicked in and I recalled how I got that ’69 Strat. In late July 2005, about a month before Hurricane Katrina, I was in New Orleans for some sessions for WWL-TV and found that Strat at a vintage music store. Two things are special to me about this Fender:
1) I probably saved that guitar’s life, because the music store was destroyed a month later during Katrina (I’ve named the guitar Katrina… My favorite guitars all have names.)
2) I used the guitar playing all of the sonic logo harmonics on the Weather Channel’s “Storm Alert.”
Then I recalled how I got the ’34 Martin which I always called my Wedding Guitar. I was best man at a close friend’s wedding in North Carolina, and we decided to take a detour that nearly made us miss the whole event. The morning of the ceremony, the groom insisted on driving out to an old barn he had heard about located “somewhere in North Carolina.” It allegedly housed a massive stock of vintage Martin and Gibson guitars. The wedding started at 4 p.m., and we made it back with a whopping 30 minutes to spare, looking a bit worse for wear. The marriage didn’t last, but I still have the Martin I bought that day. My “wedding guitar” rings like a bell, and has been pushed into service many times since then appearing on dozens of music packages.
After that, Chris thought it would be interesting to tell the story of Stephen Arnold Music against the backdrop of my guitar collection; not to “show off” the guitars, but to simply celebrate an amazing journey and share a life-long passion.
He always said: “The love is clear . . . who really has their first guitar?!”
It was a rare opportunity and we both seized the day. I supplied the stories, memories and anecdotes, while the instruments helped illustrate the journey. Chris’s images comprise a unique collection of art, all based around a simple 6-string . . . with a few 8 and 12 strings thrown in for fun. All guitars were photographed on location throughout the United States, documenting a journey that goes back nearly half a century.
Thus began The Story Of Six Strings .
February 9, 2016Posted by on
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…
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!
January 26, 2016Posted by on
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:
December 4, 2015Posted by on
We’re very proud of our international work for networks like Al Jazeera (Qatar), Alhurra (Middle East), India TV, GSP Sports (Romania), TRK (Norway), TRT1 (Turkey) … it’s a pretty long list!
A decade ago, we delivered music via FedEx – now we can FTP our latest mixes instantaneously. But in either case, we’re usually tracking and mixing in our Texas studio while our clients are a VERY long way away.
Sometimes, though, we have the opportunity to pitch, present, or deliver in person – such as when we helped launch Al Watan in Kuwait or our recent re-branding of the 5 CCTV China foreign language channels. And whether that’s a trip to the Middle East or to Beijing, it’s always exciting to be able to experience different cultures first hand!
Well, right now IS one of those “sometimes”, and I’m currently in the beautiful Balinese mountains in a town called Ubud. Earlier this week, Stephen and I were speakers at Promax Asia in Singapore giving a talk on the power of Sonic Branding.
The presentation was fantastic! And we even got to say hello to some old friends … friends like Stefan from Flint/Skallen – who we worked the CCTV project with – and Ian from Song Zu – whose music we license via our production music library The Vault.
Of course, 3 days in Singapore for a conference really isn’t the best use of all those hours on a plane to get here … so Stephen and I brought our better halves and hopped over to Bali, Indonesia!
Don’t worry, Stephen Arnold Music is still open for business, so feel free to give our staff back in Texas a call!