As a musician, you want to be known for your music, I get it.
But if you want to be known at all, chances are great music alone won't make it happen. By simply "putting it out there," you're just hoping to get lucky.
There are a few reasons for this:
Mainly, there's just too much music competing for people's attention already. So your first challenge is to cut through the noise and simply get noticed.
Plus a recent study showed that even experts are influenced more by visual factors such as movement etc. when judging musical performances. So rather than becoming a better player or singer, you should probably work on becoming a better performer!
(If there's one musical skill you should focus on improving it's songwriting: There are many talented musicians, but good songwriters are much more rare. Because of that, learning how to write songs that are compelling and memorable is a much more valuable skill to have.)
Beyond a certain point, improving your musical skills or technical stuff like the quality of your recordings won't make your music more successful. Those things just need to be good enough, to not get in the way...
But if musical skill doesn't matter, what does?
What To Focus On
1. Your Story And Personality
Fans don't follow artists just because of their music. Fans become fans because they relate to an artist's backstory. Just think of your favorite artist and why you're a fan: In addition to the music, you probably admire their rock star-attitude, are inspired by their come-up story, or care about a cause they support.
For example, I'm a big Kanye West fan. Yeah, I think his music is great. But I'm a fan because I've been following his career from early on, when he was an up and coming producer who got in a car crash and made a song about it.
Stories are also important when it comes to sharing: People will be much more likely to tell their friends about a cool new song, if there's an interesting story to go along with it. So what's your story? (Make it personal and make it interesting!)
2. Your Business And Marketing Skills
If you want to make money with your music, you have to treat it like a business. First of all, that means: Be reliable, communicate promptly and clearly, and always deliver on your promises.
Secondly, understand that the people you work with want to make money as well. Any time a gig or collaboration comes about it's because there's something in it for everyone involved. When making business decisions, aim for the projects that can give your career a real boost, and stay away from the potential career killers.
Finally, learn about the basics of marketing -- or get someone on your team that does. It's not about the tools, but how you use them. Knowing how to reach and engage the the right people separates successful artist's from those who can't seem to get ahead.
3. Your Mindset
No one cares as much about your music career as yourself. And no one owes you their attention, unfortunately. That's just how it is. But the worst thing you can do is be bitter about it and complain (no one wants to hear that either).
Instead, approach your music career with a positive attitude and have fun. Don't be discouraged if something doesn't work out. Just look at your ideas as experiments. Have lots of ideas, and test them on a small scale. So if one song doesn't catch on, just try the next one. Once you figure out what works, repeat it!