"But in the Metro, Bell is no one. The context of the Metro fails to authenticate Bell’s music. Everyone can listen, thus hearing offers no distinction at all. And almost no one cares."
I can't say this enough: YOU are your own credibility. If you're trying to book shows in "name" venues with the expectation that an audience comes built-in, get out of this business. Now.
Even more important, control your presentation. Buskers (street performers) are public music spam. No better than those teenagers paid to shove glossy 5x7 party fliers in your hands.
But distinction - that's the secret sauce. Sure, you've got to have songs and performing chops, but even if you've only got basics, you can still create an exclusive experience. And that's what people really want - to be around other people just like them (getting laid doesn't hurt, either.)
And who 'authenticates' you now? Your fans, and nobody else. Not the venue, not a critic, not a radio DJ, not a magazine, not an award, not a TV show. When you're good enough, they'll tell everyone about you.
IF YOU ARE STILL STRUGGLING TO GET NOTICED, YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH YET!