My own perception was that although it kind of sucks to be stuck in a contract you signed a long time ago, when you're having success, it gives you some leverage.
Lars [Ulrich] of Metallica is one of the worst drummers I've ever heard, but they hide it because they spend millions recording.
Sleater-Kinney's biggest momentum was from the press - that, second to Radiohead, they got more positive press than any other band in America in the 90s.
When Elliott Smith came out, it was falling on deaf ears. But artists were reacting to it.
I figured that if anyone could be wildly popular in one town, then that could be replicated everywhere, all you have to do is get the word out.