Here's another musician I don't think started in cover bands. I've done sound for them a few times at a small listening venue in my town. As far as I know she's recording and touring this act full time. I don't know about all her musicians, but I'm pretty sure her bass player is a full time player, also playing in other bands. I'm posting this to demonstrate that there is a level for original musicians where it can be their job, without ever being on the radar of the tdpri demographic. And they play music clubs all over the country that feature original touring and local bands.