Independent record label
The concept of an independent record label is a record label perceived as operating outside the sphere of the 'major' record labels, which is to say the few record companies which dominate the recorded music industry in the West. The boundaries are often blurred however, not only because some independent record labels - particularly when they are successful - have often been co-opted as subsidiaries of major labels; additionally, successfully functioning independent record labels also rely in part on international licensing deals, distribution agreements, and other deals with major record labels.
Not surprisingly, once independent labels gained some cachet in the late 1970s, major labels also created apparently 'independent' labels which were typically simply facades. Such labels - which would sometimes operate away from the parent company - might be created for one artist, or for the purposes of signing artists under different contractual arrangements to those who were signed to the parent label. Boutique (aka vanity) labels will also be created for bands or for particular record industry identities. In many cases, 'independence' is in the eye of the beholder.
In the new century, independent record labels are changing into a new form with the emergence of open source record labels.
See also: List of independent record labels