Originally Posted by bermuda
First, an established artist can now get along without a label. Why? Because they're established, and that's at least initially thanks to the label. So although it's cheap and easy enough to press pro-looking CDs, make a website, and use Reverbnation, CDBaby, etc for sales and basic promotion, it's a very passive approach, and should not be considered a substitute for the kind of experience and connections that a label can give to an unknown band.
Also consider that videos cost money, mainstream radio doesn't play just any CD that comes across their desk, and iTunes won't put an independent band's music online on a specified date. These areas (and more) are where labels still shine, and getting involved to any extent means being beholden to them.
This is what I was trying to say earlier.
You can go your own label. I've done exactly the above scenario (press pro-looking CDs, make a website, and use Reverbnation, CDBaby, etc for sales). And hey, we sold CD's from Japan to the Netherlands to Brazil.
But it never came close to even covering the costs of printing the CDs.
Granted, it was a niche music, and we weren't expecting to be profitable, but it would have drastically helped to have been on a niche label to add credibility to our product when presenting it to online radio/DJs/and whomever. Otherwise, we're just one of a million bands on CD baby all trying to push their own stuff on their own.
And side note: Larryace, once again, you nailed it.