Maria Brunner heads Insight Management – a company that manages your marketing needs. Her recurring marketing panel at Pollstar Live! is so popular it’s difficult to see her amid the crowd, and she’ll be a co-moderator for the “Takin’ It To The Streets” panel Feb. 11. Brunner explained her job and background to us, along with her thoughts on the industry and fave band The Lone Bellow.

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Maria Brunner

How did you get into your career?

My uncle ran the Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman, Mont., and presented many concerts and events back in the day. I grew up seeing many artists not only in that venue but in his home as well.

I decided to attend MSU and ended up becoming the program board manager for MSU concerts and events, thanks to Uncle Bud teaching me some ropes including how to clean toilets in locker/dressing rooms. 

After graduating, I went to grad school, obtaining a Masters degree. I became assistant director of student activities at Everett Community College and while there became the NW director for the NACA. We produced some very successful conferences which kept me in touch with major promoters, booking agents, etc.

Eventually I went to work at Concerts West/MGT III.  I commuted from Seattle to LA for many years and helped to run the marketing end of several projects, including album releases and tour promotions for Eric Clapton, The Beach Boys, Earth Wind and Fire, etc. I learned a tremendous amount and worked with people who are still my friends to this day – John Meglen, Jeff Apregan, Terry Bassett.  I will be indebted to Tom Hulett, the head of Concerts West, forever for giving me the huge opportunity.

I formed Insight Management 25 years ago to focus on marketing and promotion. We focus on grassroots marketing, keeping in mind the fan. The everyday person is what keeps us all in business. 

We have formulated and activated promotion campaigns for Chick Corea and Bela Fleck, Robert Earl Keen, Clint Black, Reba, The Moody Blues, The Wiggles, Yo Gabba Gabba, and George Thorogood as well as promotions for a series of festivals that involve a "backstage class" component that awards 20 high school music students the opportunity to see and experience from A to Z what it takes to put on a major event. These kids have to maintain a good grade average, attendance record then write a composition on the experience. We have been blessed to have artists who "get it" and have met these students backstage for a one-hour question and answer session. The Fray, Slightly Stoopid, Rebelution, Vince Gill, OAR, Kelly Clarkson, Reba and others have taken time to meet with the students.

Last but not least, we have been on the team for the production for all of Clapton's Crossroads events, providing marketing and activation for this unique event that benefits his drug rehab facility, The Crossroads Centre.

Speaking of marketing, what is the biggest mistake people make (or, what is the biggest misconception)?

Complete reliance on social media to "sell" an event.  I have to add that, from the artists’ side, being "too busy" and too cool to do interviews and be accessible in any way.

Hi, I’m a member of a local band. How can we improve our presence?

Develop the best fan base that you can and stay ACTIVE with them.  Obviously, talent has to be tops, but your “community” will keep you going for years.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

Its reliance on emails.

You have three shout-outs to others in the industry.

Robert Norman/CAA, Tom Lord, Suzanne Berg.

Do you see any positive changes happening?

People are starting to care about and help others.

What 1-3 concerts are the most memorable to you and why.

The first time I saw Springsteen at The Paramount in Seattle (I knew I was witnessing greatness at its beginning), The Lone Bellow in Boulder, Colo. (so stunned by their talent), The Montana Band in Big Sky. This band was the embodiment of all of us in music in The Rocky Mountains at the time. We danced and sang with them until it was morning!

What are you listening to currently, and HOW are you listening to it?

Chris Stapleton (CD), Twenty One Pilots (iTunes), The Lone Bellow (Pandora).