Ever wonder where the music that plays in Wells Fargo branches comes from?
Answer: Charlotte resident Fred Story.
About five years ago, the San Francisco-based lender approached Story – an Emmy-winning composer who has a recording facility off Wendover Road – to see if he could create original pieces of music for its branches.
So began a business arrangement that Story acknowledges is unusual: As far as he knows, no other bank is custom-making music for its branches, a nontraditional setting for any musician to showcase new work.
“Creative people always gravitate towards things that no one’s done before,” Story said.
Today, Wells Fargo says it plays the music produced by Story’s company, Concentrix Music and Sound Design, in more than 80 percent of its roughly 6,200 U.S. branches and some of its U.S. office buildings and contact centers.
For years, Story didn’t speak about the contract in an effort to keep the project confidential. That’s changed since Wells Fargo touted the original music on the bank’s website in June.
Story, 60, launched his company 25 years ago. His work has ranged from advertising jingles to scores for independent feature films.
But creating music for a bank presented him with fresh challenges.
Wells Fargo was looking for songs that wouldn’t put its own employees to sleep but also that wouldn’t be too jarring for employees and customers.
“We don’t want to be goopy on the one side, but you can’t rock too hard on the other side,” Story said.
What the bank approves of: soft rock and smooth jazz – music that creates a “bright atmosphere” in the branches, he said.
What doesn’t fly: ballads.
In a blog post, Wells Fargo says that for decades the company and its predecessors used music from commercial vendors, which required thousands of contracts containing fees and royalties. The bank contracted with Story as it sought an arrangement that was more flexible and less expensive.
Story, who in June won an Emmy for the score he wrote for a documentary on former Secretary of State Dean Rusk, says it doesn’t bother him that the songs he and his team of musicians make for Wells Fargo might not get noticed by a busy customer who just wants to cash a check and go about their other errands.
“Our idea was if the environment feels a little better because of it and you aren’t aware of it, so what?” he said.
“Its job is not to be noticed. It’s background music.”