independent labels – small companies not tied to the "big four" of Universal, Sony, Warner and EMI – had an unprecedented 25% share of the 113m albums sold in Britain in 2011. But industry observers say that what will perturb the majors more is the worldwide extent of Adele's breakthrough.With EMI now effectively swallowed up, the big 4 is now 3; just THREE companies accounting for 75% of all music sold in one of the biggest music markets in the world.
The Guardian article notes the influence of digitisation here:
But Martin Mills of XL's parent company, Beggars Group, which also runs its sister label 4AD (whose Bon Iver is nominated for a Brit too), attributes the rise of indie to several factors. The most important is the internet having levelled the playing field. "You can be a little guy playing by little guys' rules, but that doesn't stop you from accessing the world market," said Mills. "Bigger players are in trouble, because online challenges [illegal downloading] have harmed their businesses more than they've harmed us."Read the full article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/feb/20/adele-brit-awards-indie-success