Iya Terra has quickly shot to the top of the charts and won over fan’s hearts with their conscious, progressive ideals and intoxicating guitar riffs. Aside from their music and magnetic stage presence, what has really helped thrust this five-piece into popularity is their hard work behind the scenes on the business end of things. They have a great social media presence, well-planned shows and a fire merchandise collection. Ben Brinkley, their manager, is largely responsible for these important details as well as being their chauffeur, time-keeper, mechanic and stand-in big brother on and off the road. After much convincing at Cali Roots this year, he finally agreed to sit down with me.
A: So how did you meet the guys?
B: Well, I used to live in Vegas. I moved there in 2012 and I started doing my own shows and was managing other artists out there. One of my music friends, Seth, who I met at Las Vegas Country Saloon, told me about his friend’s band. ‘I grew up with this guy, and he lives out in Cali now. He started a reggae band and used to play in this hardcore/metal band. You should come check them out.’
So I walked into this little bar that normally did a Friday Polynesian reggae night and there were hundreds of people, it wasn’t the normal scene for that spot. I had no clue who this Iya Terra band was, but it was their first show in Vegas and Seth introduced me to his friend, Nate (Nathan Feinstein, lead vox and guitar). We talked for close to an hour and it was kinda funny, both of us were still wearing our 2013 Cali Roots bracelet from months before. From that point on developed a pretty good relationship. Anytime he was coming out to Vegas for a show I was either part of it or booking it for him. I would also help with critiquing his stage presence and performance. He always listened to me and got so much better. I saw a drive in Nate and the rest of the Iya Terra guys. After eight months of seeing them play and progress rapidly, I knew that this was a band I really wanted to get behind. Their message and how humble and nice each one of the guys were, it really made me want to just only do artist relations for them and jump on the road with them. I needed to do my part to get their message out to the masses. I could tell they were going to go places and that was three years ago.
A: So you started devoting all your time to them
B: Yeah basically. A couple of the guys still lived in Vegas and I was constantly seeing them at shows and gatherings and I’d often ask them what their next step was. I was putting it into their ears, I was talking to Nate at least once a week. I was really adamant about manifesting getting on the road with them and becoming a part and a helping hand to Iya Terra.
Long story short, I wound up tour managing Iya Terra, Ital Vibes and Synrgy on the Youth Rising tour. Through that I hooked up with Rudy (Rude Entertainment), who was at the time Ital Vibes and Iya Terra’s manager. Not long after that I became their manager.
A: What year was that?
B: 2014. When I took over we had a meeting and I asked them what each of their goals were… for now, this year, over the next two to three years. I was writing everything down and a big goal for everyone was to play at Cali Roots. Also on the list were national tours and touring with certain bands, Fortunate Youth was one of them, The Movement was one of them.
A: Check, check and check
B: Yeah we’ve been slowly putting lines though these goals we’ve made and now we’re making new ones. It’s been so easy for me as a manager because each one of these guys is in it one hundred percent. I mean, it’s been a tough road, don’t get me wrong, but they listen to what I tell them and they take it to heart. There is no weak link in Iya Terra, they are so hungry and so humble. They’re making this conscious music that I’m passionate about getting out to the people, because I know that once people hear and see Iya Terra they’re going to want them. They’re going to be a fan for life, especially if they talk to the guys.
A: That’s basically what happened for me. Do you remember the first time I met you and the guys?
B: The first time we met you was in Ocean Beach
A: I popped in to Winston’s for what was supposed to be five minutes to pick up my paycheck. I ended up staying for their entire set.
B: I didn’t even have a merch guy then, I was doing it all on my own. You came up to me and told me how good they were.
A: I heard them play and was like ‘I cannot leave’ So there I was, dancing alone on an empty floor to Real Sensi. They have that magnetic quality. As soon as you hear one thing you want more; a lot of bands don’t have that.
B: Their sound is really unique. They have a lot of influence from their various rock backgrounds and when we’re on the road we listen to literally everything. But for the most part they are really influenced by roots and the foundations of reggae.
A: Do you have any advice for aspiring bands trying to make it?
B: With booking shows, of course you want to get on those support shows with bigger bands and play to bigger crowds, but that takes a long time to get there. I started from the ground up, learning as I went and reading, reading, reading. I knew Iya Terra was going to grow into something really big and if I didn’t grow with them and figure out the key things to being a good manager, I would have been bypassed so fast. What I’ve learned is that you need to put yourself out there and every single person in the band needs to be able to put in this legwork and be prepared to be broke for a long time. It’s a business and you have to treat it as such. Every time they took a hit, I took a hit.
The main thing is playing these different city markets. You gotta build up your numbers because when you hit up one of these bigger bands when they’re touring that’s what they want to know. I knew that’s what we had to do and we went out playing to little bars, with multiple hour sets. Just putting in work; touring, trying to link up with other bands and trading shows.
As far as social media goes, the guys have done a great job. Even before I came along they were pushing their social media really hard, in this day and age you have to. And you know, your social media doesn’t always have to be about music, but you have to be consistent. You can also use it to find related pages and groups and outlets, which you can use to build relationships and network. Hopefully you have something to offer them, and hopefully they have something to offer you and you can work together and cross promote. I’ve really just put my head in the computer and books trying to figure out the best way to market bands.
You know, you just have to be able to put yourself out there and start booking shows and writing music. Then when it’s time to release that music, figuring out a strategic marketing plan and bookiing some shows around it. Your music is a tool to tour with.
A: Speaking of touring, what do you guys have going on?
B: We have Reggae Rise Up in Utah and Irie Vibes Reggae Festival in Florida. We have Dry Diggings. Other shows in between.
A: That’s cool. Well thank you so much for talking with me. This is going to be a good article.