I’m not arguing that labels offer no value other than distribution, just that distribution has always been their *key* value, the one thing that only they could offer. They’ve lost that key value; the challenge now will be to find ways to replace it with something else — for example, some combination of imprimatur, branding, marketing, and other residual values. But because none of these values offers nearly the barrier to entry that distribution did, other players will move into what today is the labels’ exclusive domain. Not all labels will die, but even the survivors will lose clout and profitability.
For labels read publishers and then it might be worth panicking for a while. But most importantly read: