It is a known issue in each business, as well in the music industries: If you have a good personal network, you achieve more than without.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. A known expression for this phenomen.
The era of the current Internet with Social Networks enables the direct contact and simple research of people and their contact details, which suppose to make this rule of the personal network less relevant, but I think this is a false conclusion. These new contact opportunities are without any doubt very good to initiate the first contact.
BUT: due to the fact that a large (and growing) amount of people are using this opportunity, the added value of enlarging the contact list through the Internet only is limited. In this situation, most people prefer to fall back on their closer contacts, who they know personally, and not virtually only.
A more specific example are A&R Managers at record labels. In my research, I have spoken to a couple of A&R Managers. One discussion topic were their decision making regarding new releases. They were mourning the high (and rising) amount of demos, which they receive. For the larger and successful labels, the number of demos has reached an amount, which can’t be handled in the daily business. The digitalisation in the production environment has caused that many more new artists/talents compete in the market and try to get their music signed and distributed.
As solution, the A&Rs reported to concentrate their scouting and collaborations mainly on the personal network. This underscores the rule “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. This behaviour is reasonable in matter of efficiency (how to handle so many demos without neglecting the normal daily business?) and trustful collaborations (rather collaborate with people you know than with new, maybe unreliable people).
For this reason, it is very important to build a personal network with non-virtual contact. Social Networks, Email and Chat might be useful for a first initial contact, but it should take further steps. And apart from that, it is much better to meet people in person than communicating only on a written basis. If the person is meetable due to the distance, a telephone call might help.
This article contains a few thoughts and ideas about this topic. I could write much more about it, but I think I got the core message.