Allen Ireland has long been a mystery. Ireland owns and books both Neurolux and Pengilly’s, and is viewed as one of the Boise music scene's most prolific influences. But he is not someone who likes to be in the public eye. In fact, he doesn’t regularly do interviews or introduce himself to people at his bars.
When it was announced that he would speak at the DIY Touring panel at Treefort Music Fest March 25, many took the opportunity to see what he looks like.
The panel consisted of two band members (Pieter Hilton of Typhoon and Jared Wait-Molyneux of The Shivas) and two venue owners (Ireland and Samuel Stimpert from the Visual Arts Collective) with Eric Gilbert of Finn Riggins as the moderator.
Both Ireland and Stimpert said they receive an average of 75 booking request emails per day.
Hilton said one of the most important things is to start small and focus on house shows over clubs, something Jared Wait-Molyneux of The Shivas agreed with.
"If you are playing in a town you have never played in before, no one knows who you are, but kids always want to go to house parties," he said.
And it's important for people to know who you are. Ireland said he hangs tour posters and fliers for every band that plays in his clubs.
"[But] if no one has heard of your band's name, it doesn't mean anything," Ireland added.
"In general, there is a lot of good music out there and that alone is not enough to get you booked," said Gilbert. "Clubs need to get people through the door."
To book house shows and performances in DIY spaces in towns you have never visited, the panel recommended extensive Googling. Look for bands you sound like and see where they are playing. College radio stations are also good resources.
And when contacting bookers, be they low- or high-level, the panel agreed that you should be direct and to the point. Send them an email stating who you are, when you are looking for a gig and include a link to hear your music. Don't be too full of yourself. And most importantly, keep your email as brief as possible.
"I hate one the ones from professional bookers that are like 14 pages long," said Stimpert. "I never read them."
And if a club owner turns you down, don't be afraid to ask them for recommendations on smaller venues in the area that might be more suitable.
As for why you should put yourself through all this instead of getting an agent, Wait-Molyneux put it simply:
"No one cares as much as you do," he said.