Maria Brunner, Owner/Founder, Insight Management/Musically Fed

Maria Brunner

Owner/Founder, Insight Management/Musically Fed

The heart of Musically Fed has always been Maria Brunner’s passion for music and giving back.    

Brunner, owner of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based entertainment marketing company Insight Management, started the nonprofit in 2016 in honor of her late husband, who was a proud Vietnam veteran, to repurpose unused backstage catering from concerts and festivals to donate to community organizations comprised of at least 50% veterans and who focus on feeding the homeless, hungry and food insecure.

After the coronavirus pandemic brought live events to a halt and many production professionals suddenly found themselves out of work, Musically Fed shifted its mission to distributing food to help those in the music industry who are facing food insecurities. 

“Since April, we’ve provided more than 170,000 meals to our backstage communities in cities across the country,” Brunner says. “Through it all, I’ve been able to spend time with these colleagues to truly understand the critical nature of their plight. It’s a situation that has been both eye-opening and humbling. Pulling together an extraordinary team from our industry to meet this crisis head-on has been one of the most satisfying accomplishments of my entire career.”

Brunner initially reached out to Jake Berry of Jake Berry Productions and Jeff Giek with Rhino Staging to “discuss ways to take care of our own and ideas for keeping things going.” Charlie Hernandez from the nonprofit Just a Bunch of Roadies and supporters such as Insomniac Events’ Insomniac Cares (including Rutger Jansen) and Musically Fed board member Chad Schultz from Warner Music Group got involved and the group came up with a model for drive-thru food distributions. Musically Fed worked with Rhino to implement a system to conduct the drive-thrus as safely as possible for staff, volunteers and participants, with a focus on COVID-19 protocols. 

The first drive-thru food distributions took place in Arizona and then expanded across the U.S. In addition to serving those in the live industry, Musically Fed also provided thousands of meals to depleted food pantries and nonprofits in markets including Atlanta, Minneapolis and Los Angeles. Other distributions have taken place in Denver, Nashville and San Diego. The nonprofit has also quietly helped individual families in need that have reached out directly to Musically Fed, providing them with baby supplies, pet food and other essential items. 

“We are very proud of what we have been able to do, mainly because so many people have come aboard to help – record labels, publicists, managers, and artists – have all heeded the call and been simply amazing,” Brunner says. “The latest example is the band Shinedown, who recently made an amazingly generous donation as part of the ‘Adopt A Roadie’ campaign we’re doing with 98KUPD in Phoenix.”

Brunner has worked in the music business for more than three decades. While attending Montana State University she became the program board manager for MSU concerts and events and went on to become assistant director of student activities at Everett Community College. After working at Concerts West/MGT III, helping to run the marketing for album releases and tour promotions, she formed Insight Management 28 years ago with a focus on grassroots marketing.

And what is the next concert, sporting event or show Brunner would like to attend post-pandemic once in-person shows can safely return? 

She says, “I would be up for seeing anything! Any event that shows the public – and our industry – that we care about the safety of the fans, performers, athletes and workers will be important. I think I can speak for many of us who have learned a great deal about our colleagues and ourselves over the past year when I say that we not only want to survive, but emerge from this a healthier, smarter and more compassionate industry as a whole.”