We've all heard the old saying, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." I think this is one of those tired old sayings that allows people to shift any responsibility off of themselves for not succeeding at something. If you're not moving forward in your field, you can just throw your arms up and assert that there's no one to help you and you don't have that integral connection that would elevate you to new heights.
This sort of mindset implies that if someone in a position of power would just come along and give you that push you need, the rest would just fall into place and success would be inevitable. I don't really believe that's how it works. Think about all the artists out there that do have serious resources behind them and fail anyway. Whether they have a major label contract in place, or a close friend or family member who is extremely connected in the music business constantly offering great opportunities, most of the time nothing really happens.
Initially, I was thinking that the reverse of the above saying was true: "It's not who you know it's what you know." But as I thought about it, that didn't seem to ring true either because even if you do know a lot in terms of being a tremendous talent at your craft, being business savvy and having a solid grasp on the business you're in, it still doesn't guarantee success. So I think the title of this blog is what it's all about. "It's not who you know, it's what you do!"
When you take control of your career and get real comfortable actively doing things to move you toward your goals, you'll attract other professionals within the music industry who can and will help you. But you have to do the work first. No one wants to get into business with a boat anchor. Music business professionals want to work with people who will contribute to staying above the water line and beyond and there's no better way to display this than to do the required work. Take big steps and make big statements and help will come in myriad ways.
If there was any truth in, "it's who you know", then the success rate of major labels would be 100% instead of 10% and Sting's son's band would be a screaming success. What's that? You didn't know Sting's son was in a band? Just having an endless pool of financial resources to pull from simply isn't enough. The A&R reps at record companies can only take their best guess at what will fly and what won't. After that, it's up to us. We decide with our wallets what is good and what is not. And as I've said before, it's not just about the music, there's a whole entertainment package involved in breaking an artist.
So if there's an artist out there whose music you don't particularily like, don't just dismiss it with, "Oh, they must know someone who handed them their success." Take a closer look to see what it is they've done to get where they are.