What's the single most important piece of advice you will get if you are interested in working in the music industry? That's a big questions but the answer is quite simple: network until you are so sick of networking, and then network some more. You've probably been told this more times than you can count and you've probably heard that "you are who you know." You may even know that most opportunities in the music industry come from contacts, not from job listings. But there's one other equally important fact that often gets overlooked.
Your network can tell you about an opportunity that you wouldn't hear about otherwise and your network can give you a recommendation or a connection that will set you up for a good first impression. They can even give you advice, help you learn about the industry, and help you make career decisions. But it ends there.
You network can't apply for a job for you. They can't go to your interview and answer the tough questions. They can't write your hit song or make you have a good audition. They can't make you wear something that will make you look professional. They can't make you act like someone who is mature and capable. They can't make you practice or force you to study. They can't make you send a thank you note or follow up. They can't get the internship or job for you and they can't make you work hard and do a good job once you do. That is all up to you.
Networking is extremely important, but if it isn't accompanied by a professional and courteous demeanor, hard work, a positive attitude, and skill it is actually pretty useless. You need to be worth that recommendation in the first place, or no one will be willing to put their hard-earned reputation on the line to help you anyway. A network is an important tool that will increase your chances of succeeding, but they can't make it happen for you. Only you can.