How do people do it ? How do they have a big hit ? How do they get noticed ? How do they create a career in the music business ? What's the formula ?
The honest answer is very simple, there is no formula. There is no magic potion, no magic wand, no secret prayer, no unholy sacrifices, and no formula.
Particularly in these times when there are so many avenues to pursue and explore. The music business evolved to so far, so quickly, in a very short time span that the formulas that once existed, collapsed. Major record companies were probably among the last to realize this, hence their collective demise.
In addition, the rise of a multitude of DIY options and alternatives compounded the problem. In the long run, this is probably a blessing in disguise. First off, the artist now has far more control over nearly every aspect of their career. Secondly, the artist also has greater control over the money, particularly the expenses; you don't have to pay a web designer, pay a news release person, pay to get your music heard, pay a PR person, nor even pay to play.
I have found that I can effectively assume and execute to my satisfaction, numerous duties that were once allocated. Part of the "formula" is to take more control over your own destiny, via the DIY route. Sure, there is a learning curve, and you'll make mistakes, but you won't be paying for someone else's mistakes and fuck ups. That is insanely annoying.
The "formula" really consists of pursuing every avenue you can possibly think of, most of which you can DIY. Become your own web designer, your own social media expert, your own copywriter, your own PR firm, your own agent and manager. Take everything you can "in house".
You can distribute your music this way too. Get your tunes on a variety of music platforms, and on different video platforms. Submit your music for licensing, for movies, ad's, TV shows, game music, whatever. Send out new releases, and not just to music press, hit newspapers, blogs, college newspapers, city entertainment weeklies, and so on. Playing house concerts ( see the separate post on this subject) is a great, effective, low cost way to be heard and build a following.
The real answer to the "formula" is two-fold. One, leave no stone unturned. And two, hard work. And you can do a great deal of it yourself.