Here is a great article from TX about the importance of small venues.
"I can personally relate to the importance of small venues for musicians starting out. Back in 2011, when I was just starting out as a musician in Southern California, I was asked to perform weekly at The Mai Tai Bar in Long Beach. I played there for a few years, honing my craft and really learning how to connect with the audience. Many of the customers were there after a long day of work, just looking to relax, enjoy a drink and listen to live music. Some of those same people went on to hire me to play for their special events like weddings and birthdays, and even became great friends of mine to this day. It was an awesome experience for the community and for me as a musician. And I know for a fact that other musicians who went on to become big stars also owe it all to small venues like the Mai Tai Bar."