Independence is largely a relational thing these days (i.e. often
pitting itself in opposition to the majors) and tends to opt for what
it believes are values that are dependent upon being different from
what are perceived as mainstream ones.
I guess it depends upon the artists in question as to whether or not
independence is necessarily a good thing. If someone aims to shift
as many units as possible as an end in itself (Mariah Carey etc.)
then being on a major, with all the conventional distribution
capacity it brings, can only be good for them.
Yes, I suppose all acts aspire to sell at least a few records, but I
think independent labels are good for those who aspire to other goals
alongside that - e.g. in the case of Ultra-Red, providing a critique
of certain social practices through location recordings. Or maybe
that's just my naive idealism coming to the fore...