Texas Chapter Board Spotlight | Heather Wagner Reed
What do you do in the music industry?
By day, I am a dedicated music advocate who helps artists in their careers, whether it be via public relations campaigns that launch artists into the stratosphere, strategic consulting to guide musicians who need a “sherpa”, or marketing tactics that help cut through the clutter of a highly competitive and ever changing music industry. By night, I am an intuitive, a communicator, and truly strive to be a positive change maker. I want good things for our clients and good things in our community. I have been running a public relations and marketing company called Juice Consulting out of Austin, Texas for the past ten years and before that, I worked in various aspects of the business including everything from artist management and international marketing, to starting it all 25 years ago in college radio (I am a proud alumna of WUOG FM in Athens, GA). I wear many hats in the business these days… we not only work with musicians, but also record labels, artist managers, music nonprofits and all kinds of related industry businesses. I also do independant product management work, often stepping in to help record labels (or help artists who don’t have a label) that need some leadership and support on the marketing side. I love finding great artists, and when I believe in them, hold their hand and assist in any way possible from PR and marketing to career planning and strategy. My company’s mantra is that we “add vitality to your campaign.” I like to think that is what “Juice” is. We bring the energy! We’ve got "the juice".
What does being a member of The Recording Academy mean to you?
The Recording Academy is like a family to me. It has been a major part of my career and journey since moving to Texas in 2002. From being a member, to becoming very active on the Board (now in my 11th year as a Board Member) and working on numerous committees over the years, I feel like the industry professionals I meet through this organization are the of the best of the best, and you just can’t surround yourself with a better group of people - or professionals. The support that the Academy offers its members is bar none and it is a career elevating experience to be involved.
Tell us about the musical influences and inspirations that helped to shape your career.
I love all kinds of music. Honestly, my family is probably one of the biggest influences. My grandfather was an opera singer from Latvia who sang in five languages, and my uncle toured around the country in a Polka band and played a variety of instruments from piano and fiddle to the accordian and drums. There was always “live” music in my Polish grandmother’s house growing up. My mom told me that in order to take away my bottle when I was two, she said that “Bobby Vinton (Polish pop music heart throb) wanted it....” so I finally relinquished it. I was an early fan.
I was a child of the 80’s and my early influences were bands like Duran Duran, INXS, Bon Jovi and even Run DMC and The Beastie Boys. From a very young age, I was interested in various genres. I was one of the first kids in the 7th grade that could rap and I was bestowed the name “home girl” as a nick name by my teacher Mr. Pataki. Little does he know what that meant at the time. It gave me the confidence to get in front of groups and show another part of myself. Musical theatre and acting became a major interest of mine starting around the age of 13.
Later in my teens I got into bands like The Violent Femmes, The Cure, The Smiths, They Might be Giants and R.E.M. I got lucky at various times in my life to fall into opportunities (right place / right time) that opened up some bigger doors for me. First it was with college radio (hello, Athens was the HOME of R.E.M.!), then it was getting a job with entertainment PR firm in Atlanta The Headline Group, where I worked with the Atlanta Rhythm Section and a massive event with (the then very young) Usher. Then after a move to The Netherlands, I got involved with a Dutch tech/music start up called SoundArtist.com, followed by a job with Universal Music Holland handling the marketing roll out for a variety of major European artists signed to Mercury Records. Everything from rock, jazz, pop-opera to even German style “Schlager” music. I actually went to a massive Schlager festival in Austria once where yodeling was a thing! Our Schlager artist got a Gold record on that trip. I ate schnitzel.
When I was in The Netherlands I noticed the previlance of so many American artists on the European music charts. I wanted to understand the cultural phenomenon - and without knowing my intention would actually manifest itself soon, I met Mathew Knowles at a music conference in Atlanta. That chance meeting lead to my coming back to the US and working for his company in Houston, eventually as Senior Product Manager for Beyoncé, handling her day-to-day management and global marketing coordination for five years, as well as product management duties for others including Solange, Mario, the Swedish girl group Play and many more.
At that point I had worked with artists who were both successful commercially and also some that were underground, and my passion for the industry was completely across the board, including every genre possible.
If you weren’t working in the music industry, what would you be doing?
Wow. Tough question. There are so many roads to take in life. Part of me would want to be working for a nonprofit with a wonderful mission, or with special needs kids. I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time. And as mentioned, long before I chose the PR and marketing world, I was considering getting into theatre. I love expressing myself creatively, so being an actress or a visual artist of some sort might be a good fit. But the biggest job I now have is as “mom”. I have two amazing and creative kiddos who are the absolute center of my world, so my dream would be doing anything that allows ample time with them, having fun adventures, taking them to see great music, art and culture.
What projects are you currently working on?
Wow! We are so busy right now. It is an exciting time. We are currently celebrating the 10 Year Anniversary of Juice so I am focused on a rebrand and refocus, which involves building our client base not only in the music and creative sectors, but also in the worlds of tech and innovation. It is a nice compliment to our music endeavors, especially here in Austin which is a smaller version of Silicon Valley. We have a number of great musicians we are working with locally and nationally. Literally too many to name. Many album releases coming up this Fall. We also work with some incredible Austin non-profits like Black Fret, Austin Music Foundation, Swan Songs and Grounded in Music to name a few! Black Fret has given out over a half a million dollars in grants in just three years to Austin musicians. Its an amazing and innovative new philanthropic platform. And The Austin Music Foundation is an invaluable resource and support system for our local musicians. We are honored to be a part of the many music nonprofits in this community and their incredible efforts. We have many meaningful projects going on right now… and its always changing and growing. I am also thinking about where we want to be as a company in the next ten years. Time to strategize again. One thing I know is that the Recording Academy will be a big part of our journey ahead.