I know I link him a lot, but this article on Kingmakers by Seth Godin perfectly encapsulates the transition from major label dominance to today's fractured marketplace.
From the article:
Years ago, getting our products on the table next to the check out at Target and Lechmere was enough to make the year at the software company where I worked. Two big retailers picked our product and that was enough.
Retailers want to be kings and they want to annoint kings. They want the lever to decide what sells and what doesn't, because it earns them power of pricing and profit (if the retailer can make your product a hit, she can extract better terms. If all she does is sell what sells, then the manufacturer is in charge).
Thanks to the long tail, the digital world ignored this thinking. The iTunes store, and Netflix, for example, take the position that, "We're going to sell everything, and a lot of it. We don't care which thing, because it's all the same to us. Just put everything in the store and the market will sort it out."
As a result, they have far less promotional power. They didn't build a lever. The app store doesn't make a hit, it contains hits. Most long tail retailers are staffed around this idea and have a culture that reflects it. They'll sell everything/anything, because the longer the tail, the better.
As I keep reiterating, don't wait for your "big break" to be handed down from some benevolent entity. A solid music career is made through sustained fan engagement and hard work.
(Not that I would complain if one of our songs became world famous, mind you. But I'm not counting on it.)