Indies, like college radio, do the unwitting R&D gruntwork for the mainstream. They start out serving a niche that's neglected by the majors; some end up out of business, some get bought by larger labels (if the product becomes somewhat popular), some stay independent forever. Past and present examples: Blue Note, Sub Pop, Atlantic (Led Zeppelin was an indie band of sorts...), Elektra ( were The Doors), Cadence, FMP, Twin/Tone, Tommy Boy, and WaxTrax!.