About Maria Gonima

In my focused yet diverse career as an extreme enthusiast, I’ve been a digital PR leader, label manager, DJ, artist, youth media instructor, art curator, event promoter and record store nerd.  I began as a twee-indie-electronic-postrock-psychedelic-bossanova-prog-showtunes-hardcore-noise fangirl and have never stopped hyphenating genres since. 

After working at a number of Texas radio stations (Trinity’s KRTU, UT’s KVRX) and record stores (Hogwild, SA; 33 Degrees, Austin), I finely tuned my palette of musical selection before DJing publicly in Austin, TX.  At age 19, I started playing at punk rock bars to people who didn’t care for dancing. After having a few beers thrown at me, the punk rockers let loose and started singing along to jams by TokTok vs Soffy O, Huggy Bear, and Cut Copy.  Since then, I have shared the stage with a range of acts like Prefuse 73, Boyracer, Otto Von Schirach, DJ Assault, Jeff Mills, Extreme Animals and many others. 

In 2001, I joined the pioneering team behind the Austin Museum of Digital Art  (AMODA) and became the group’s founding Digital Showcase Manager. There, I worked with a dedicated team of volunteers to deliver unprecedented exhibitions of digital art, featuring internationally renowned digital visual artists including Flight 404, Fork Unstable Media, Flora&Fauna.visions, Ryan Junell, Golan Levin, Takagi Masakatsu, PLEIX Collective, Casey Reas, Solu and many others. I had the pleasure of bringing unique electronic musicians to Austin, including Girl Talk, Machine Drum, Lusine, and Lesser and coordinated several premiere Texas and U.S. performances by international musicians, including Max Tundra, Mum, DAT Politics, Freeform and Joseph Nothing.

In addition to my publicity work for AMODA, I whet my appetite for public relations with the international short film festival, CinemaTexas. There, I worked with forward-thinking and burgeoning talent, including Miranda July, Michael Snow, Hal Hartley, Robert Altman, Werner Herzog, Terrence Malick, among many others. 

In 2003, I received my B.S. from the University of Texas at Austin’s RTF: Convergent Media department and Advanced Communication Technology Lab (ACTLab), fiercely working toward understanding what digital will mean to us in the future and how its tools are used to create limitless concepts, both in communication and art.  I also worked on honing my musical skills with the E-MU and tons of patch cables at the University of Texas Electronic Music Studios

I then moved to San Francisco and immediately began teaching digital design and production at the Expression College For Digital Arts in Emeryville, CA. With my digital dreams coming true, I also began working with Kid606 on the infamous record label, Tigerbeat6.  I helped with the ins and outs, working with artists like Drop The Lime, White Williams, Electric Company, DAT Politics, Eats Tapes, Clipd Beaks and others, and delivered blowout label events with a number of underground parties and the Let’s Lazertag Sometime series. 

In SF, I also had the opportunity to work with experiential engineer and musical innovator Naut Humon at Asphodel and the surround cinema space, Recombinant Media Labs, featuring 10 screens in 360 degrees supported by an ultra impact 16.8.2 horizontal and vertical sound diffusion system. There, I publicized the work of  artists including Fe-Mail, Daniel Menche, AGF.3 + Sue.C and Lou Reed as well as events featuring Pita, Thomas BrinkmannSpeedy J, Pan Sonic, Monolake, Thomas Koner, Hecker, Carsten Nicolai, Richard Devine, Deadbeat, Monolake, Rechenzentrum, Ryoji Ikeda, Skotlz_Kolgen, Otomo Yoshihide, Semiconductor, Zibigniew Karkowski, and others. We also threw raging, sweaty parties in a geodesic dome known as “the compound.” 

Taking my penchant for electronic music to the club, I also worked at Mighty in booking and publicity, including the Big Smile event franchise. There, I helped deliver unforgettable nights mixing live acts with heavy-hitting DJs, including Indian Jewelry, Spank Rock, Dead Swayze, Qzen, CLAWS, Kid606, DAT Politics, Lemonade, DJ Godfather, DJ Funk, Thomas Dolby, Thomas Fehlmann, MANDY, Booka Shade and Jeff Mills. 

Outside of musical interests, I worked with GreenCine, assisting the content acquisitions director in building the streaming movie and VOD platform before many other distributors were joining the game. This exposed me to the streaming media industry, from content deals to multiplatform distribution, encoding and metadata. I had stints as a freelancer at the San Francisco Examiner and as a Web host on Better Propaganda. View some of my interviews on YouTube. 

I worked with San Francisco’s at risk youth with the digital documentary production non-profit Conscious Youth Media Crew. There, I helped teach design at Downtown High School and worked with numerous groups on editing and documentary filmmaking.  I worked with the young people of Oakland and San Francisco to tell their very personal stories with eye-opening sound and image, including “How I Ride: From Low to Show,” a feature-length film on the differences and similarities between scraper and low-rider youth culture in the Bay Area. 

I moved to Los Angeles to work for NBCUniversal’s network for Latino youth, mun2. There, as corporate communication lead, I had the opportunity to work with bicultural luminaries, reggaetoneros and an innovative digital content team.  Working on publicity for shows featuring Pitbull, Daddy Yankee, Casa de Leones, Beyonce and Enrique Iglesias, I broke into the mainstream (at least my version of it) and secured stories in broadcast, radio, top trade and latino publications as well as entertainment tabloids. With the digital team, I helped showcase their talents in irreverent video content for a digital generation of latinos. Here’s my personal favorite: El Lunar: Late Night 

In 2008, I moved on to Bender/Helper Impact’s digital entertainment team, where I have leveraged my knowledge in the digital space for clients including Scion, Current TV, Paramount Digital Entertainment, Break Media, Comcast Interactive Media’s Fancast, Coincident TV, Fox Home Entertainment and Fox Television Studios’ 15 Gigs. 

In 2007, I fell in love with Hulu and knew I needed to “make it mine. Oh yes.” I began working with them at B/HI and eventually went in house for three years. These years were the beginning of the massive shift in content consumption and changed our definition of TV. 

I moved on to Fullscreen Media because I wanted to see what content could be like untethered, and no one did that better than social media stars. Branded content shifted and people no longer only wanted to hear from celebrities. They wanted to hear from “real people.” Then, I lived through the moment when “real people” became celebs themselves. 

I had a stint at the Annenberg Foundation where I helped launch initiatives like Annenberg Tech and the Annenberg PetSpace. Then, I moved to Survios, the leading VR gaming studio.

Compiling all of this experience, I’ve leapt into entrepreneurship myself and started Big Smile Co. I’m taking all of my experiences in corporate communications, publicity, event production, influencer marketing, XR and content strategy to build a new kind of marketing communications firm. Find out more at bigsmile.co

My keen focus is on the big picture of digital content, navigating new and disparate business models, analyzing how producers appeal to audiences on multiple platforms, and sharing my client’s stories with targeted media to inform audiences of new directions in entertainment and the talent behind new media. This blog will be used for a little bit of this and a little  bit of that. Hope you enjoy it and  I’d love to hear from you!