In spite of what Taylor Swift thinks, I still think Spotify has a lot to offer music: it might not make the big stars as much money--but it only tends to help everyone else get their music out to a wider audience, which, I am guessing, is the goal for many, if not most, indie artists. That's why more artists should be finding avenues, like Spotify, for getting their music out to bigger audiences.
If you aren't concerned about doing it for a living, then it doesn't matter how much money you make, and it actually seems relatively easy to get your music onto Spotify. Soundcloud is not bad, either. Or Bandcamp. I use both of the latter two. There is also CDbaby, and lots of others. CD Baby actually seems like the best way to go, now that I look at it a little bit.
Amazon, iTunes, and the rest are all doable as well--you just have to be willing to take the time to do the research and find out how (God bless the Internet!). With widely available avenues to record--and even for free (with software like Audacity)--there is little reason not to put your music out there, if you are so inclined.
If you are mainly recording with live musicians and sound effects, it sounds pretty good once you get the levels right. If you want to do a bunch of electronic shit, buy a synthesizer. I use an old church organ, guitars, a drum machine, a mic, and a small, four-track mixture, which I plug directly into my sound card.
Recording just takes practice and a lot of experimentation. You listen to what you are recording so much that you learn to love or hate your music, depending on how honest you are with yourself. If you hate it--just figure out what you need to do to like it. Then find your right mix, and don't settle for less.
You don't have to spend a lot of money to potentially build an audience. It's kind of like the old method of recording singles for the radio. If you are successful enough, or have enough free time, you can eventually record an album, if you want--but it's not necessary.
The key, I think, is to take a cost-effective approach using what means you have available, and not worry about the rest. You might never be Taylor Swift--but that's not necessarily a bad thing (no offense to Ms. Swift).
The processes that worked in the past for indie labels can still be applied today--they just need to be adapted to today's technology. Doing so actually makes them more doable.