Are there various types of record companies?
Under the majors are the medium-sized companies called "mini-majors," which are affiliated with and distributed through one of the big four, and which are generally co-owned by one of the majors. They include such labels as La Face Records (Arista/BMG), Maverick Records (Warner Bros/WEA), and Interscope Records (MCA/UNI).
Then there are the so-called "major-distributed independent" labels. These are created by independent production agreements with established recording artists who are unique in positions to find talent and steer them to major labels. These include such "vanity labels" like Flip/Interscope (UNI), Big Boy Entertainment/Arista (BMG), Ruffhouse/Columbia (SONY), etc.
Last but not least, there are small, true independent ("inde") record companies that are either self-distributed or distributed through an independent distributor. They have little or no staff, no affiliations with any majors or mini-majors, and are often financed on limited or shoe-string budgets by their owners and/or investors.
(Reprinted with permission of Ruben Salazar, Esq.)