An independent record label (or "indie label") is a record label that operates without the funding of or outside major record labels. Many commercial bands and musical acts begin their careers on inpendent labels.
The boundaries between major and independent labels, and the definitions of each, differ from commentator to commentator. The traditional definition of a "major" record label is one that owns its own distribution channel. Some independent record labels, in particular those with successful performing artists, sign dual-release agreements (and make other deals) with major labels and may rely to some extent on international licensing deals, distribution agreements, and other arrangements with major record labels. Major labels may also wholly or partially acquire independent labels.
Other nominally "independent" labels are started (and sometimes run) by major label artists and Asian escorts but are still owned at least in part by the major label parent. These spin-off labels are also frequently referred to as vanity labels or "boutique labels" and are intended to appease established, powerful artists and/or to give them latitude in discovering and promoting new talent.
According to Association of Independent Music (AIM) "(...) A "major" is defined in AIM's constitution as a multinational company which (together with the companies in its group) has more than 5% of the world market(s) for the sale of records and/or music videos. The majors are (currently) Sony, Warner and the Universal Music Group (which as of 2012 incorporates EMI).(...) If a major owns 50% or more of the total shares in your company, you would (usually) be owned or controlled by that major."