They can be but it depends on the situation. What labels still have is the established contact networks within the media, marketing and industry distribution channels. If a project takes off no-one as yet is in a position to challenge the speed and resources a major label can bring to the table in those circumstances. Most artists these days will be aligning themselves with an independent label or management who will try and do some of the traditional record company’s role(s). A producer can also help here as they often have a network of contacts to help achieve the artist’s goals.