Smaller labels: more about love than profit.

Smaller independent labels, which often have a different mission entirely and, unburdened by heavy corporate machinery, have adjusted and even prospered. While the five major labels (Universal, BMG, Sony, Warner, EMI) and their subsidiaries have been shrinking staffs and dropping bands, the indies, including such punk music labels as Berkeley's Lookout Records and San Francisco's Fat Wreck, have stabilized and, in some cases, flourished.

To many music lovers, these smaller labels are turning out better and more innovative music and using more creative strategies to market and distribute their product.

They just might be the future of popular music.