Earthkry earns stripes

BY KEVIN JACKSON
Observer writer

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

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THE Earthkry band recently wrapped up a second summer tour of the United States with New Zealand roots-reggae group Katchafire. The trek, which kicked off June 6 in North Carolina, ended September 15 in Seattle, Washington.

Other states Earthkry performed in were California, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Minnesota, Texas, Colorado, and Vermont. They also did a show in Washington DC.

“We played at some very huge venues. From the 250 minimum all the way to 4,000 capacity. Live Nation owns most of these venues, so as you can imagine, these are serious venues with great sound, stage and production,” said Earthkry keyboardist Phillip McFarlane in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

He said the group learnt more about the music business having toured and opened for American reggae acts such as J Boog, Arise Roots and New Kingston.

“We have learnt so much from the reggae business in the USA like touring, presenting a show, how to sell merchandise, how to structure our planning as a band, how to be disciplined and punctual,” McFarlane revealed.

“How to overcome technical and just daily issues. We have learnt the importance of target marketing, data collection and retention of fans. But most importantly, we have learnt the story of how these bands started from the bottom with nothing but just performing for food, travelling and sleeping in a little van until the brand started growing and their ticket sales were going up and becoming more in demand.”

American reggae bands have outsold most Jamaican artistes in the United States by touring their country non-stop. Their albums consistently top the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart. McFarlane said these bands are strategic and business-savvy.

“The white American audience is the biggest consumer of reggae in that country. That demographic will support you in so many ways, for example, through merchandise, social media and become real dedicated fans. Touring with these bands also introduces you to a demographic that is very different from the Caribbean, Europe and South America,” he explained.

“Your online streaming increases, you will also attract promoters and other popular bands to be a part of show packages. You will see your power to sell tickets in America increase as you earn new fans each night once they enjoy your show. And that's the power of the music business, being able to pull and attract the attention of people.”

McFarlane said Earthkry met many of these bands while playing the festival circuit and instantly made connections. They also networked on social media. He stated that he and his colleagues sacrificed to get the breakthrough in the US, especially the Golden State, traditionally that country's biggest reggae market.

"We did the Rebel Music Festival and we opened for US$500. They loved our performance, punctuality and attitude. Now we got a bigger offer to perform at the same event on the main stage next year," he disclosed.

“It is all about the hard work, grind and the attitude. From our first tour, we only were paid by the promoters of the Sierra Nevada Music Festival. When we opened for New Kingston, we were paid $150 per show. Now, we have our own tour bus and equipment and we tour almost eight months out of each year.”

Earthkry, whose members are graduates of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Its roster is completed by Kamardo Blake (bass and support vocals), Kieron Cunningham (drums and support vocals), and Aldayne Haughton (lead vocalist and guitarist).

They first toured the US in 2016, followed by stops in Europe. Their only album, Survival, was released in 2017. While they are making inroads abroad, Earthkry would not mind making an impact at home.

“We may not be popular in Jamaica but we are putting in the work. Hopefully, we can get more attention in Jamaica in the coming years,” said McFarlane.


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