I have enrolled the help of a few industry friends to assist in answering the question for us. See below.......
"I would say that it’s a little of both. I believe who you know can get you a meeting or get your music heard by the right people but, it’s what you know and what you learn along the way that usually determines if you get in and how long you stay in."
Vashon “Rap” Straws National Mixshow Promotions, Universal Motown Records.
"Who you know gets you in the door, what you know (or what you don't know) gets you out. So you better be right for the gig!"
DJ Mecca Programming Manager, Urban Formats MUSIC CHOICE
"Now days, it's about what you know.If you know that a label is looking for a east coast female artist with positive lyrics, then you have more of a chance in fitting into what the label is trying to market. If that's not your style then don't waste time trying to sell them something they are not looking for. I think you also have to have the talent and stamina for the business. You have to be ready to do a lot of work in a short amount of time to make a dent in the market. The business is mostly about good songs and very creative marketing. Just do you and if you do get the attention of a label...get your hustle on and get that money!"
"Truthfully for me, Its a combination of both. Who you know, can get you into the right doors and I don't mean a meeting with an A&R. I'm talking about getting the presidents of these major labels to make time for you. These are the men and women who sign the checks, they are the top of the food chain. With that said, I urge any artists I've ever worked with to let go of the "D - Word" (Demo). A demo is basically telling them you are a waste of my time. However, Once you prove to them you have a substantial amount of undeniable hits that sound of quality to these execs, even if they're not mastered but sound radio ready. I guarantee they will not let you leave the office without at least asking you what do you want to make this deal happen. Or they make you an offer down the road. At this point, What you know has to kick in. You have to possess common sense as well as good business sense. Study those entertainment books and ask your entertainment lawyer lots of questions. You can even try finding someone successful to mirror and possibly requesting they be your mentor. Knowledge is key to unlocking that next door."
Dat Dude Moze - Owner of Mad Man Entertainment
"It's definitely helpful and advantageous to know the right people. They need to like you in order to even listen to your music. So much comes through their office and they can't listen to everything. So it helps if they know you or if they know someone that knows you and can vouch for you. That being said, it still depends on the situation. You can know a whole lot of people at every single label and that still won't get you signed. You can also know a whole lot about the business and still not be able to get a foot in the door. But your chances are better if they can put a face they like with the music they are hearing."
Lamonia Brown – President, Gilchrist Entertainment Marketing & Program Director, NY Women In Film & Television
"Kids....PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE........MARRY RICH....BECAUSE ENTERTAINMENT MEANS FOR THE MOST PART AND FOR THE MAJORITY.....YOU WILL BE POOR AND UNSUCCESSFUL...YOUR EVENTUAL REALITY WILL NEVER MATCH UP TO WHAT YOU IMAGINED PRIOR TO YOUR JOURNEY...... ENTERTAINERS = PROSTITUTES ITS ALWAYS EASIER TO SEE THAT SUCCESSFUL ENTERTAINER AND IMAGINE YOURSELF IN THEIR POSITION WITH WHAT YOU SEE AS THEIR SUCCESSES.....THE SPOILS AS THEY SAY......IT'S GREAT TO IMAGINE YOURSELF THE HERO...WINNING MOST OF THE BATTLES ON THE WAY TO WINNING THE WAR.....STOP YASELF.....NOT TOO MANY PEOPLE WONDER WHAT ROAD THAT SUCCESSFUL PERSON HAD TO TREAD.....THERE ARE LAND MINES ALONG THE WAY.....WE NEVER SEE OURSELVES AS THE ROADKILL LAYING DEAD ALONG THE ROAD......GUESS WHAT IN ENTERTAINMENT THERE'S MORE ROADKILL THAN ANYTHING ELSE...... GO RENT THE MOVIE "ANTZ".....DIRECTED BY THE OH SO FAMOUS(ALLEGED) PEDOPHILE WOODY ALLEN.......ITS FUNNY...ITS CUTE AND ITS OUR REALITY......THOSE IN POWER SEEK MORE POWER OVER THOSE WITHOUT POWER.....THEY DIRECT THE POWERLESS TO THINGS THAT WILL MAKE THEM MORE COMFORTABLE AT THE EXPENSE OF THE POWERLESS."
GORDON FRANKLIN, President YEAR ROUND RECORDS