If you want to make a living plaing music you need a professional environment. Labels will be more likely to sign artists who exist within a pro environment. Managers do the same, bookers too. It gives them a sense of security, which is essential for them since they will spend money on you. They want to be reimbursed. To invest in an amateur artist is too big a risk for them. Remember that real people do the signing, even if they represent a label of some sort. And since they have to report to their bosses, board of directors, etc. they are not likely to take huge risks. Risks that could affect their own professional and financial situation. They will only sign artists that already work on a professional level.
You can’t do everything yourself, you need professionals to handle each aspect of your business. If you’re a pro, you’re a business. Even if you’re not incorprated (which most musicians are not), there are a number of aspects of being a musician (think of them as departments of a business) you need to attend to if you want to make music professionally.
How do you get there?
The wrong way, in my opinion, is to record a CD, send it out to a couple of labels, bookers, managers, then wait for their response and if it doesn’t happen (99.9% of all cases) they give up, or make a new CD, spend more time and money just to repeat the cycle that didn’t work the first time.
Instead, spend your time and money and build a great live show. Invest in yourself, learn stage techniques, how to build a setlist that rocks, arrange music that captures your audience. Build an audience that way, combined with networking yourself in the professional world and the pro environment will notice you. Build it the way you build your audience, via your live show.
It will not be easy, but I think it is the only way to build something for yourself. Something that will last for a long time.