I can speak from personal experience that it is very difficult to get larger (or even a lot of lower-level) musical acts to come to Fort Worth (speaking in terms of indie rock/pop/etc., which is my domain). I see time and again that the vast majority of bands I'm a fan of will only ever consider Dallas or Denton as stops in the D/FW area before moving on to Austin, San Antonio, and Houston or north to Oklahoma City, Norman, Lawrence KS, etc.
I'm really curious to hear what you think might be some of the underlying issues causing that to happen - and what, if anything, could be done to improve the situation.
I figure it's complicated.
For one, compared to Dallas, Fort Worth has a kind of odd staggering of venue sizes. We have some small and medium-sized places (The Grotto, Lola's, Magnolia Motor Lounge, Shipping & Receiving, Wherehouse etc.), but a fairly significant gap between those places and Bass Performance Hall. We have nothing (or at least very little) comparable in terms of size or draw to places like the Granada, the Kessler, the Texas, the Loft, etc. and the smaller/medium Dallas venues (Dada, Prophet Bar, Three Links, Crown & Harp, Trees, Sundown, City Tavern, etc. etc. etc.) all seem to be able to pull down bigger acts on a regular basis. Queen City Music Hall in Sundance Square hasn't seemed to pan out in that regard like a lot of people hoped it would. The Ridglea is a black hole for the foreseeable future. Etc.
Compared to Denton, Fort Worth is more in line - Denton doesn't have a lot beyond small and medium venues, either. Their small and medium venues, though, all seem to have more of a draw, more cachet, for touring bands - I've often found myself heading to Dan's Silverleaf and Rubber Gloves especially to catch indie bands who are skipping FW in their north Texas run. (I'll be doing it again next month, in fact, to see a band coming to town from New York, who are going to Denton exclusively in their regional stop. Their tour schedule is instructive in describing how Fort Worth isn't even on most bands' radars: Brighton (MA), New York City, New Brunswick (NJ), Baltimore, Charlotte, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Pembroke Pines (FL), Tampa, Orlando, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, Denton, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Toronto, Rochester (NY), Pittsburgh, Philly.)
Booking companies might be part of it - Dallas and Denton have a bigger variety of booking agents. The Artist Collective, Tentacles, Parade of Flesh, and more mainly book in Dallas and Denton. Fort Worth is primarily all Blackbox, with Spune handling a lot of the festivals in FW and Dallas. With more variety comes more hooks into different bands and scenes, perhaps.
Denton has a national reputation among indie musicians as a cool college/smaller town, like Lawrence, Boulder, Olympia, that sort of thing. Dallas has a reputation of being big and important and of having a large concentration of venues and such, and of having the legend and reality of Deep Ellum. FW is, well, Cowboys & Culture™ and Billy Bob's, which isn't fair, but that's definitely a perception. (Texas bands seem to have a better view of FW than national bands.)
I also feel like "regular folks" in Fort Worth don't go to shows as often as people in other cities do, apart from something like Friday on the Green (which hasn't tried to get non-local bands in ages) or stuff at Panther Island Pavilion. (Part of it may be that a lot of FWians don't even know we *have* a music scene apart from Billy Bob's and Bass Hall - the city does NOTHING to promote anything apart from those sort of places.)
I also genuinely feel like Fort Worth's assortment of better venues are not concentrated in any particular way and this impacts the perception of the city - the closest to a real concentration being around 7th Street, but that's primarily the big three venues over there - The Grotto, Lola's, and Magnolia Motor Lounge (which skews more Americana anyway, not so much indie). Even then, they're not *that* close to each other and the area isn't consistently walkable. Shipping & Receiving is off South Main and there's not much new development over there yet, the Wherehouse is off in another universe on Hemphill, Queen City is buried in the Lone Star building under Sundance Square, etc. etc. None of that is a judgement call on any of those venues, but there is definitely not a feeling of "being there" in a place where there could be amazing music happening around any corner, like one gets in Dallas in places like Greenville and Deep Ellum (which, despite its rocky past, is still a fantastic music district and is definitely back on the upswing), in Austin in places like South Congress and the inner east side, in Denton around the square, etc. Just in a brief stroll around Deep Ellum alone, you'll pass by Dada, Trees, Three Links, Prophet Bar, The Boiler Room, The Free Man, Sons of Hermann Hall, The Green Room, Liquid Lounge, AllGood Cafe, Double Wide, and more, all full of people, with people spilling onto the sidewalks around them, music of as many different genres as there are venues blasting from each. Even if you're only into one or two of the venues and their respective scenes/genres, it's still a totally thrilling experience for a music fan to be in that space. Ditto with Denton and the square - there's a rock show in the basement of this pizza place next to a band performing at Andy's next to a guy with a guitar and a musical saw standing on the courthouse lawn next to a band on the roof of that new burger place next to a show at Hailey's next to an accordion jam at Banter just a block or two down from shows at Dan's and Rubber Gloves, etc.