Our Team

Our Artists

We consider ourselves fortunate to have a cadre of award-winning recording artists, writers, and composers represented in our database.  Every note of the music we license comes from these talented, successful folks, and they are at the very heart of what we do.  We feature "Handmade Acoustic Music," of the highest quality, and the artists in our roster are responsible for all of it.


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Steven Briggs, President

After 40+ years sitting behind an acoustic guitar, Steven founded Blue Night Records (BNR) in 1998.  The running joke was (and still is) that he wanted to hang around with “real musicians.”  BNR flourished, as you can see at bluenightrecords.com. That seminal experience brought with it two lessons: (1) new releases get 90% of the market’s attention; and (2) lots of spectacular original recorded music is just languishing in dark vaults.  Enter Blue Night Soundscapes (BNS). 

Steven founded BNS in 2014. A conflict management specialist (Ph.D, Conflict Management, UCLA), a multi-award-winning negotiation skills professor (DePaul University), and a consultant to over 2,000 major corporate and government clients since 1981, Steven works with potential licensees to put together sync and master use agreements. He helps music supervisors and ad agency creatives identify ways to meet the time, content, and budgetary expectations of production team decision-makers. His motto: “Everyone wins.”

On a more micro level, Steven is the “A & R” person for BNS.  He works with artists we invite to send us their compositions, listens to every track they submit for licensing consideration, and decides which ones will be added to the BNS library.

More importantly, Steven is a devoted husband, a proud father and grandfather, and a doting caregiver to Peek-A-Boo, Cooper, and Jackson --- the best cats in the world.


Amy

Amy Brown, Operations Director

We recruited Amy from the “big time” corporate world, where she was accustomed to dealing with high-tech, high-level, high risk issues.  Maybe that’s why she’s so unflappable.  No problem seems too tough for her, and she solves them all with sensitivity, grace, and wisdom beyond her years.  Amy is currently managing our music database, client database, and social media presence.  She’s on the fast track to administer all of the remaining Blue Night Soundscapes functions, and is an essential element of our organization.


Jackson "Pawlick"

Jackson runs the switchboard.  No calls during nap time please.


Natascha Myers, Operations Generalist and Independent Licensing Agent

Originally from Waterloo, Iowa, Natascha is a music major (and the 2016-2017 Student Body President) at Clarke University in Dubuque.  Given such proven leadership skills, we are rotating her through several BNS assignments.  For example, she was recently instrumental in the completion and implementation of the metadata search engine we use to locate individual music cues from our nearly 5,000-track database. Natascha also administers our website, writes individual track descriptions, and suggests licensing placement ideas for our artists’ music.

Sure, she’s bright, ambitious, friendly, and responsible. But Natascha is also a gifted singer/songwriter who plays guitar, piano, and (get this) five string banjo.  Three-finger style for now.  She also takes on frequent solo gigs and participates in numerous University ensembles. 

Like the rest of us, Natascha is a total music freak.  She has a wry sense of humor. And being a performing singer/songwriter herself, she has an outlook and work ethic we admire and respect.  We are honored to play a part in Natascha’s professional development, and we look forward to exposing her to increasingly responsible opportunities in the music licensing arena.


Chris Rietz, Independent Word Wrangler

Chris has worked for decades at Elderly Instruments, one of the world's finest and most unique music stores (elderly.com). He's on a team that manages their broad-based CD inventory, and he has a hand in running Sidestreet Distributing (their sister company), which has carried Blue Night Records' (our sister company) releases since 2000. Beyond that, Chris has written for an array of publications, including the Visible Ink Press's Folk Hound compendium. He has also penned numerous CD reviews for the Lansing State Journal.

Word has it that Chris knows his way around the neck of the acoustic guitar and several other instruments, too.  He has appeared on recordings with folk luminaries Joel Mabus (a BNS artist himself), Sally Rogers, Bruce Sagan, and many others.  Chris was also with the Celtic trio “Party of Three”, whose album Modal Citizens was released by Marimac Records.

Chris is “the” perfect fit for BNS.  He knows the acoustic music world, he has dealt with record labels, musical artists, and other music-biz entities for years, he’s a gifted, experienced writer, and he can pick.  His initial assignment with us is to write track descriptions for the music in our library and search engine.  From there, we would love to have Chris move gently into the music licensing arena as one of our Independent Licensing Agents.

We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome Chris Rietz (pronounced “Reetz”) to the Blue Night Soundscapes team, and we look forward to reading his informed, well-crafted track descriptions and sharing them with the world.  Sorry Chris, but you might have to cut back on your arpeggio practice for a while.


Jamie Anderson, Independent Word Wrangler

Jamie Anderson is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Ottawa, Canada. She’s our second “international” staff member.  For 30 years she’s played in hundreds of venues in the US and Canada and released 10 albums of acoustic-based music – folk without the Birkenstocks, country without the big hair, and jazz without the weird chords. 

Jamie is also an author. Drive All Night, a collection of road stories, was published in 2014 on Bella Books. It’s a hoot.  Jamie has published articles and CD reviews for a ton of publications and websites, from SingOut! to www.jamplay.com. She writes about all things music at her own blog site, jamiebobamie.wordpress.com, where she’s received over 460,000 hits. In her distant past, she was a radio DJ, concert producer, song contest director, and sales person for a record distributor/rack jobber. When she’s not perfecting her ukulele/hula hoop act, she teaches guitar, ukulele, mandolin, and songwriting in her home studio and via Skype. www.jamieanderson.com.

Jamie writes track descriptions for us now.  We love her already, and anticipate relying on her for additional writing projects.  Plus, she keeps us in stitches.


Cal Webb, Independent Licensing Agent

We are pleased to welcome Cal Webb to the BNS Team.  He is our first Independent Licensing Agent to be located outside of the United States.  Cal lives with his wife, daughter, and dog “Juno” on beautiful Vancouver Island, about an hour from Vancouver.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in Music and Recording Arts, and has been steeped in music since childhood.  Cal is a guitarist, engineer, producer and composer, and in his home studio he’s equipped to address the technological needs of film and television music supervisors, as well as those of ad agency creatives.  Like all of our staff, Cal is personable, dependable and service oriented.   Give him a call (250-616-7596) or send him an email (Cal@BlueNightSoundscapes.com) to get the licensing process started swiftly and efficiently.


Thomas Silverstein, Independent Licensing Agent

Thomas is our first staff member to have earned a degree in Film Production (Loyola Marymount University).  After that he worked for several years in the film industry in Los Angeles.  Sometime thereafter he was bitten severely by both the love bug and the music bug.  The former saw him become a producer, as twin boys arrived in the next scene.  The latter helped him realize he should not be a musician.  So he did the next best thing: Thomas began taking music business courses at the Berklee College of Music.  There he met our own Steven Briggs in a Music Supervision course, and the two of them were assigned to negotiate master and sync licensing for several television commercials. The rest, as they say, is history.

Besides Tom’s interest and expertise in film-making, he has a thirst for music in all genres.  He’s also got a wry knack for putting killer playlists together.  While still taking Berklee courses, he’s joined Blue Night Soundscapes to put his talents, interests, and ambitions to good use.  Or as he likes to say it, “If I can’t play an instrument myself, I can sure support those who can.”  Besides, Tom’s sense of humor and his ethical perspective seemingly have no bounds.  Our kind of guy. Email Tom at: thomas@bluenightsoundscapes.com anytime.


Claire Ratliff, Publicist & Media Liaison 

Claire Ratliff, principal architect of Laughing Penguin Publicity & Consulting in Nashville, meets the unique needs of small business entrepreneurs (that's us), independent record labels, independent artists and authors.  She’s creative, she has the right connections, and she’s honest to a fault.  Plus, as illustrated in the above photo, she gets things done.  Case in point: she got a banjo player on The Tonight Show!  Here’s how Claire describes what she does: “When it was time to hang out my shingle, I drew on my own experience as an independent artist and entrepreneur, as well as a marketer.  I know how important it is to find professional, affordable promotion services.  Ours is a versatile firm that will really go to bat for you with your budget in mind.”

A former marketer with Columbia Pictures of Burbank, CA, Ratliff has also been a television host!  Her articles have appeared in trade journals and she is a dynamic speaker on the topics of PR and marketing.  Claire is our go-to media liaison for print, television, social media and online publicity.  With targeted strategies, she grabs our audiences with cool copy for media releases, columns and articles.  And the best part?  She designs and implements publicity campaigns within our budget through a collaborative, focused, flexible and customized approach.

Beyond all of that, Claire is a warm human being who splits our sides with laughter.  Hence, “Laughing Penguin Publicity.”  You can reach Claire at (615) 476-3200, or Claire@penguinpublicity.com.  Just don’t use her too much --- we need some of her time and expertise too.


Bill Whitacre, Entertainment Lawyer

Bill Whitacre is our legal specialist. He brings a breadth and depth of music licensing experience to the table. Among his many accolades, Bill created the business and equity structures for the independent film “The Blair Witch Project” and his screen credits as a producer include films starring Ernest Borgnine, Danny Glover, Michael Winslow, Judd Nelson, Tom Arnold, Amy Smart, Julie Harris, and Mickey Rooney. He has brokered agreements with Warner/Atlantic, Polygram, CBS, INDI, SONY/RED Distribution, and their international affiliates in Europe and Japan.

Bill is also a picker and songwriter, and yes, just like the rest of us, he’s also a total music freak.  Our kinda’ guy.


Vickie Spurgin, Graphic Designer

Vickie Spurgin, is our graphic design expert. She designs our ads for the trades, lays out press releases, and generally advises us about how to put our best foot forward visually.  Vickie has been immersed in the music business for decades, and has a real talent for blending the visual and aural arts. She does the CD packaging design for Blue Night Records, and we now rely on her graphic arts expertise for Blue Night Soundscapes as well.


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Kelli Swisher, Academy Advisors 

Kelli Swisher, of Academy Advisors, Ltd., educates us about the tax implications of major decisions we make at Blue Night Soundscapes. She prepares our corporate tax returns, keeps our corporate reports current, and advises us about such exciting issues as asset allocation, payroll reporting, cash flow, and staying on good terms with "the authorities." Kelli has evolved into an "authority" of sorts herself, having been immersed for about eight years in a wide array of music industry tax and financial issues.