Adele was with XL Recordings, related to the Beggars Group. Their current roster includes Sigur Ros, Radiohead (and Thom Yorke's solo works) and The White Stripes. In the past, they handled The Prodigy, among many others, so they're not exactly unknown. They're quite big by "indie label" standards. They're also "independent" only in the sense that they're not owned outright by a major recording label, but they do have very close ties with Columbia Records.
I do think the "Mega Corporations" get a lot of stick here and it's not entirely deserved. Yes, many industry CEOs are old, crusty and need a good ousting and replacement by people who actually "get" technology. But that's the norm in any industry that's been around this long. Transitions are painful when the very business model upon which your business is founded is being chipped away beneath you and you don't know how to solve it. All those employees have bills to pay too, you know. These corporations are just a big collection of people, most of whom are not rich and are just as much a part of that 99% as you are, all trying to earn a crust; they're not inherently nasty; their bosses are just fighting increasingly desperately to keep their jobs.
There are two key challenges facing musicians today:
1. How do I make my music?
2. How do I get my music noticed?
Both steps originally required the assistance of those mega-corp major music labels. They paid a loan up-front to the musicians, taking a gamble that the album would make a profit. (Most did not.) This still happens today, but for a much, much smaller roster of artists who are considered more likely to hit the jackpot. Risk-aversion increases rapidly when your industry is being threatened with major disruption, so this is hardly a shock.
Today, you still need outside funding if you're working with orchestral music, but for most genres, you can create a perfectly commercial track in your bedroom, with the only expense being that of getting it mastered professionally if your home setup isn't up to it. (Mastering is all about getting the most out of a recording and making it sound good on all the various media, in all the various supported combinations of sound reproduction, such as simple stereo, 5.1 surround, Dolby Digital for cinemas, etc. This requires seriously expensive audio kit and an engineer with very good hearing.)
That just leaves the second stage: getting yourself [i]noticed[/i]. When the barriers to entry in any industry are lowered by technology, the industry inevitably goes through a painful phase where pretty much anybody thinks they can make a hit single—and they try and do exactly that.
This was most obvious in the early days of DTP and website design, with any number of horrific, eye-gouging, multi-coloured, multi-font excrescences appearing overnight as people with no training whatsoever decided they could have a go at it too. Mercifully, the days of Geocities websites are (mostly) over.
But it also meant that an aspiring musician with actual talent now had to get himself noticed in a massively expanded ocean of mediocrity and shite. Marketing and self-promotion come into play. Concerts can help, but you can't just go hiring Wembley Stadium or the O2 if nobody's ever heard of you: You need to invest time, effort and, yes, money into making people aware of you and your music first. You need to climb the ladder and keep on climbing, exposing yourself to the media, doing photo-shoots, the odd panel show, umpteen interviews, etc... despite little of this having anything directly to do with the songwriting or performing you so love to do.
THIS is where those mega-corporations do have a lot to offer: they have connections, they know people, they can get you airtime in adverts, or even a movie if you want. They can speed the process up dramatically.
Fundamentally, when you're running any business, your goal is to improve the bottom line. And the music industry really is an business. Artists who are happy to give away all their songs aren't in that industry: they've self-selected themselves out of it and shouldn't get to vote on how it works.
For the remaining 99% of "lower middle class" musicians, engineers, producers, lyricists, etc. making music is how they pay their bills. These people have a right to be paid for their labours as you have a right to get paid for yours.
If anyone disagrees with that on principle, they shouldn't get to vote either.