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.
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 Brown, Director of New Ventures
Amy Brown has been our “rock” as Operations Director since Blue Night Soundscapes was born on March 11, 2014. She has virtually “done it all”, and is responsible for a great deal of our growth over the past two years. No problem has ever seemed too tough for her, and she has solved them all with sensitivity, grace, and wisdom beyond her years. Amy has also been our in-house visionary, and she loves a challenge. For all of those reasons, we have asked her to take the helm and lead us into the future. She has accepted, and her promotion to Director of New Ventures is effective immediately. With Amy’s guidance, we plan to explore new initiatives and markets, and to improve the ways we serve our artists, our licensees, and those who work within the Blue Night Soundscapes family.
Natascha Myers, Director of Operations
Natascha came to us as an intern from Clarke University, where she was the 2016-2017 Student Body President. Once she had earned a degree in music, we wisely asked her to stay on in a more permanent position (Operations Generalist), and she graciously accepted. Since then, Natascha has been instrumental in the completion and implementation of the metadata search engine we use to locate individual music cues from our 5,000+ track database. Natascha also administers our website, writes track descriptions, and constructs playlists for potential licensees. She has also produced training videos for our staff and taken on the arduous task of teaching the rest of us the ins and outs of DISCO, the new internet-based platform we use to manage our music library.
Of course, like the rest of us, Natascha is a total music freak. She's a performing singer/songwriter in Nashville, she plays several instruments, and she has a work ethic we admire and respect. We are honored that Natascha has agreed to take on this managerial role in Blue Night Soundscapes. Her continued guidance and organizational contributions will undoubtedly help us serve the needs of our valued artists and licensees.
E. Michael Harrington, Director of Music Clearance
We are thrilled to announce that Dr. E. Michael Harrington has joined Blue Night Soundscapes as our Director of Music Clearance. Michael is a Professor of Music Business at Berklee College of Music, where he has also designed the Capstone course for the music business curriculum and is authoring the Music Business Law course for the new Berklee Online Graduate Program. He has served as a consultant and expert witness in hundreds of music copyright/intellectual property matters involving the We Shall Overcome Foundation, Pharrell Williams, Taylor Swift, Dixie Chicks, Adele, Steven Spielberg, Steve Perry, Tupac, Lady Gaga, Deadmau5, Danger Mouse, Adam Levine, Busta Rhymes, Samsung, HBO, and others.
On September 8, 2017, Judge Denise Cote quoted his Report as the Plaintiffs' Expert Witness in ruling that "We Shall Overcome" was to be placed in the public domain and no longer under copyright.
On the basis of his writings and interviews, in August 2016, Michael was cited as an authority in the BRIEF OF AMICI CURIAE 212 SONGWRITERS, COMPOSERS, MUSICIANS, AND PRODUCERS IN SUPPORT OF APPELLANTS in the "Blurred Lines" decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Beyond the courtroom, Michael's rights ownership expertise has been relied upon in interviews with such media outlets as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Law, NPR, Bravo, CNN, BBC, The Guardian, CBC, Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, the "Today Show", Time, The Huffington Post, Fortune, and Salon. He has lectured at numerous prestigious law schools, including Harvard, George Washington University, Cardozo, Boston College, University of Houston, University of New Hampshire, William Mitchell, Loyola, Brooklyn, Vanderbilt, Suffolk, University of Colorado, St. Louis University, and New York University. Michael has also been a guest speaker at the Beverly Hills, Texas, Boston, and Minnesota Bar Associations, among others.
Obviously, Michael's music copyright expertise will be of immense value to Blue Night Soundscapes, as we immerse ourselves daily in music rights matters. Just as important to us and our licensees, though, is the fact that Michael is a warm, caring person with a great sense of humor. We boast proudly that he's a total music freak, and he loves animals. Michael has also bicycled twice from Los Angeles to Nashville, and once from Oregon to Nashville. We assume that mode of transportation was volitional.
Jackson runs the switchboard. No calls during nap time, please.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.