Full Sail University

Nadine Santos’ Journey to Music Executive

How Full Sail grad and Hall of Fame inductee Nadine Santos grew from a music-loving young girl to a powerhouse executive in the music business.

A headshot of a woman with straight brown hair and hoop earrings smiling while wearing a leather motorcycle jacket against a white background.

For 2001 Recording Arts graduate and Hall of Fame inductee Nadine Santos, a career in the music industry was inevitable. From a young age, the New York native was obsessed with reading album inserts and familiarizing herself with the names credited alongside her favorite artists, needing to know every aspect of every song she loved.

“I would be looking at producers at very young ages where I feel like no one else really cared,” she says. “But I had to know every little bit about it.”

I get the wonderful opportunity to run a team of 12 programmers who are in charge of all of the music that you hear on Music Choice. We get to break new artists, play new music, play some of the hits, and really just curate the music experience that lives across residential homes and commercial spaces."

When Nadine discovered Full Sail in an issue of Vibe magazine, she realized that her early obsession represented more than thoughts of a life in music, but an actionable path.

“I don't think it was until that moment sitting there listening [at the Behind the Scenes Tour] that I started to think, ‘This is actually something that could be a career path.’ And it just felt like it was like a full-circle moment for me. Like, okay, this, this could actually be it.”

Soaking up all there was to offer in her time at Full Sail, Nadine excelled in her studies, finally getting to focus on something she was passionate about. After graduation, she was eager to get into the industry, so she took a job answering phones at Power 105.1, one of New York’s most popular stations for hip hop and R&B. That job that would set the trajectory of her career in motion.

While hanging out with a friend at the station who worked in the production department, Nadine got a unique opportunity to showcase her skills. Armed with her knowledge of ProTools audio editing software from her time at Full Sail, Nadine gave her friend a hand, covering some edits while he took a quick lunch break.

“He left and I was in there and I was working on some of the [production edits],” she recalls. “All of a sudden the Program Director who runs the radio station, Michael Saunders, was walking by. I could see him looking in and keep walking, but then double back and come back and look in the window like, ‘What is this girl doing?’”

After chatting with Michael and surprising him with her recording arts knowledge, Nadine quickly moved on from answering phones.

Working her way through the ranks, Nadine would go on to become an assistant to the program director and eventually music director/assistant program director at the New York station.

“A lot of people work their whole careers trying to get to the number one market, which would be New York. And I was blessed enough to start my career there and be able to work my way up.”

Today, Nadine serves as the Vice President of Programming and Artist Relations with Music Choice, overseeing the team responsible for all of the music played on the digitally broadcasted service which reaches more than 40 million households in North America.

“I get the wonderful opportunity to run a team of 12 programmers who are in charge of all of the music that you hear on Music Choice. We get to break new artists, play new music, play some of the hits, and really just curate the music experience that lives across residential homes and commercial spaces.”

With a career spanning more than 20 years in the music industry, Nadine is still as excited about music as she was when she was a young girl.

“It goes back to the music, right? The new artist, the new songs, getting a first listen at something that you know is going to change the business, that is going to change the way people listen to music…When I hear those new artists and something gets played, it's like, that's why you do it. Because there's a whole new generation that's going to listen to this music.”