This is something that is not new. Pretty much every area in music has always had agents that controlled their territory It's sort of why there are agents to begin with. You can go back to the 40's, 50's, 60's etc. and find that there were always companies like the WILLIAM MORRIS AGENCY that territorially controlled everything. For a venue owner, it makes sense as they have a lot of things going on ,so having an agency that weeds out people makes sense.

The problem you are really having is the amount of artists that are trying to do this now. Before the Internet, there was usually a pecking order and ways to work yourself up, before you could get an agent, and some form of abilty was needed. Now it is an "EVERYBODY CAN DO IT" world. Millions of people have been put into the pipeline, so there is an enormous logjam.

But you really need to know what is nessasary now. A FOLLOWING. If you can demonstrate you can put people into seats, eat, drink, populate the venue you will get some attention. Probably the agency will want to book you. But till you can do that, even the best agency is going to be hard pressed to include you and the venues will probably not put you in anyway.

There are a lot of problems now. Covid is the obvious one. More and more venues have completely closed or have no abilty to have customers in the first place. Many will never re-open. People are also less inclined to even go out right now, or even can in many areas. Then, the increased competition, less incentive to pay for anything, the advent of open mic, karaoke nights where amatuers or the audience have taken over as the entertainment. Not to mention increased costs of operating a place to begin with are really taking their toll on live music in general.

What you might look at is trying to find the places that are doing live music, and see if you can sit in. There is nothing like a live audition and actually meeting and interacting with the owner or manager. It is sort of like worming your way in and not easy to do, but it does happen. Sometimes venues might allow someone toward the end of the night to get up, do a song or songs, during a break or with the permission of the act sometimes they might suggest they come in early. Sometimes not, sometimes they do. Just have to take a chance.

But basically you really have to understand that all the landscape of music has changed forever. That is why reality television shows, contests, etc. have come into being. It's mostly a younger person's game.

You need to make sure you do your own "off the field" work. Make sure you have a good following of friends, family, people that will show up to support you so that you can tell the venues you are going to help their bottom line. That is really what they are in business for. Show them you can do that and you'll get some bookings.

MAB