It's all well and good to be an independent label. You're nimble when reacting to trends and you can sign whatever acts you like. But getting product out into the marketplace--and more importantly, getting paid for that product--is a different matter entirely.
This is why so many indie labels have what are called "P&D deals" with major labels. For a fee, the majors take care of the distribution of indie material. It's to the point where indies are heavily dependent on the majors for this sort of thing.
From Digital Music News:
Indie groups like A2IM will scream that they're still in control, they'll blast Soundscan and the majors for shady marketshare counting. But according to a report just issued by the Consumer Federation of America and Public Knowledge, the fact that majors can get away with this creative counting proves they're in a position of power.
"We interpret the recent brouhaha over the calculation of market shares as a demonstration that the independent labels have failed to diminish the market power of the dominant firms," the report grates.
"We believe this dispute proves the continued importance of the majors, not their imminent demise. While independent labels have grown, they have been unable to escape from the domination of the major labels."