Once upon a time, there was something called the record business.
At the age of 7 Wágner dos Santos was accepted at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in New York City where he studied classical piano, flute, violin, conducting, performance, and music theory. In the early eighties and at the heart of New York City's new wave and punk rock scene, Wágner began composing more synth and electronic music leading to him cutting his first single at the age of 15. Two years later, he would record and release an EP entitled A Way of Life which enjoyed some success on new wave radio stations and dance clubs and seems to have returned to the scenes at new wave and goth clubs throughout the country.
Shortly after his EP release, Wágner began producing other artists and releasing them on his first record label, Novus Records. Five years later in 1990, a young and promising BMG-distributed record label by the name of Imago Records recruited him and helped launch his career. He worked with such artists as Henry Rollins and The Rollins Band, Baby Animals, Paula Cole, Aimee Mann, Love Spit Love, John Waite, Basehead, and Modern English.
Records to Cassettes. Cassettes to CDs.
From Imago he moved to one of the largest independent record labels at that time, TVT Records, known for Nine Inch Nails, Sevendust, Ja Rule, and Lil Jon. There he produced a highly acclaimed compilation series containing digitally remastered live performances from The Ed Sullivan Show under the imprint 1001 Sundays. Most notable in the collection were The Best Of Broadway: The Sullivan Years, Rock 'N' Roll Pioneers, The Sullivan Years - Rhythm & Blues Revue, and The Sullivan Years: An Evening With Rodgers And Hammerstein.
Nice boy turns rude boy.
In 1994, Wágner joined the team at Continuum Records as their Director of A&R. His artists included Kid Rock, Ron Wood, The Charlie Watts Quintet, Bobby Womack, and Roger Daltrey. He was the executive producer of Ska: The Third Wave, a compilation of performances from popular third wave ska bands of the early nineties that made Billboard's Top Reggae Albums chart. The success from that album attracted the attention of several record labels and in 1995 Wágner inked a production deal with Shanachie Entertainment to continue the ska compilation series along with other new productions under his own imprint, Beloved Recordings. But when Shanachie turned down his request to sign Cherry Poppin' Daddies, who he had discovered during the production of Ska: The Third Wave and had been courting ever since, he soon parted ways with the company the following year and formed Beloved Entertainment Group.
New Wave to Alternative Rock
A&R guy by day and rockstar by night.
In the nineties and while working in A&R and as a producer at Imago Records and TVT Records respectively, he moonlighted as a recording artist and lead singer of two prominent NYC alt-rock bands. First with Buzz Prophets and later formed Nerve with Buzz Prophets' drummer, Jeff Almeyda. A familiar face in the NYC music scene, he had performed at such legendary venues as CGBG's, Webster Hall, The Bank, Brownie's, and The Knitting Factory, among others.
When asked about his former music career, he often refers to a memorable conversation he had with then VP of A&R, Kate Hyman. While being fed new artist demos to review, they discussed his music career which led to Kate giving him an important piece of advice. "You're going to have to choose between a career in A&R and the record business or as a recording artist and lead singer of Nerve." Kate continued to say that "both are difficult careers that require full attention and hours of dedication." Great advice that Wágner admits he did not take but was absolutely true. As his career grew in A&R, his band took second place.
When Visions Collide
Through a distribution deal with Universal Music Group, the Wágner's new music company was an umbrella for a mixed catalog of music from its propriety imprints, Beloved Recordings, Yum! Recordings, and Updego Entertainment and distributed new releases from such labels as Crane Mountain Records, Dinemec Records, Dinemec Classics, King Snake Records, and Nu Gruv Productions.
Cherry Poppin' Daddies, however, was no longer available and ended up signing with Mojo Records/Universal Music Group. Their first release, Zoot Suit Riot sold over two million copies in the United States and achieved gold record sales in multiple countries. Perhaps Wágner was on to something. Who knows?
During Beloved Entertainment Group's final two years, Wágner brought his music catalog over with a schedule of new releases to Kenny Laguna and Joan Jett for distribution through their Blackheart Records label. But digital downloads changed the industry and before it could rebound as it has in the last decade, record stores and many labels closed down. It was then, in the early 2000's that Wágner would find himself pursuing a new direction - a career in advertising and marketing.
If you're able to make Henry Rollins a household name, a career in advertising and marketing should be a piece of cake.
At the age of 17, while building his career in the music industry as both an A&R executive and recording artist, Wágner also became one of the pioneers in online services. He designed, built, and launched two popular online services which paved the way for competitors such as AOL and the public launch of the Internet. His background in technology and digital together with having worked in fast paced creative industry gave Wágner a unique advantage as an ad man and marketer.
Wágner is a futurist, brand strategist, and a student of social anthropology with 20 years of marketing communications experience. For the past six years, he has hosted and produced various live streaming programs and podcasts. Today, he hosts Wagner Live, a weekly podcast and live streaming show with fresh perspectives on what's hot in business today.
Life's too short to settle on just one career.
Prior to The Wagner Agency, Wágner started and ran Beloved Advertising, an award-winning advertising, and experiential marketing agency that worked with numerous global brands. His first marketing position after transitioning from the music industry was at Sony Masterworks where he ran several large scale cross-promotional programs and non-traditional marketing initiatives. From there he cut his teeth at such global agencies as Momentum Worldwide (IPG), GMR Marketing (Omnicom), and Havas Impact.
Wágner has been responsible for many successful campaigns with such international brands as Coca-Cola, Google, Dell, Target, Ford, Sprint, Lowe's. Autograph Collection, McDonald’s, among many others.
Through Wágner's illustrious career, he has been awarded multiple awards for his work in advertising, was a past president of the American Advertising Federation-Orlando, and is regularly profiled in the Orlando Business Journal. He is also a photographer, vlogger, and musician.
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