Though overall music sales have been in a death spiral for several years, San Diego artists have been having their best year ever on Billboard’s Top 200 chart.
But does it mean as much as it once did? In past decades, a top-ten placing would require sales of hundreds of thousands of albums; today, 50,000 or fewer could net you a top five. At the same time, chart stays are now relatively short, with albums entering high and falling off almost immediately.
“That’s indicative of product that doesn’t have a broad appeal,” says T-Bone, a clerk at Off the Record. “As soon as the initial excitement from an artist’s core fan base wears off, so do sales.… Most bands have very specific audiences that don’t expand beyond a certain market.”
It still helps to be signed to a major label; San Diego—based performers linked to big imprints have fared well. Since January, five major-label releases and one indie have seen top 30 placings on the charts, compared to five placings overall in 2007, when only two titles entered the top 50: As I Lay Dying’s An Ocean between Us (#8) and Angels & Airwaves’ I-Empire (#9).
Meanwhile, in 2008, Tristan Prettyman’s Hello entered at #27 on April 22. Augustana’s sophomore release, Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt, placed at #21 on May 6. The recent soundtrack to The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian includes Switchfoot’s “This Is Home” single, which helped the album reach #26 on the main chart as well as #3 on the soundtrack chart on May 20.
Also on May 20, Jason Mraz’s We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things entered Billboard’s Top 200 chart at #3. Two other acts have joined Mraz in the top ten this year: P.O.D., with When Angels and Serpents Dance, which scored a #6 placement; and the lone independent release, Flogging Molly (featuring Carlsbad-based Matt Hensley), whose Float debuted at #4 on March 11.
Upcoming chart contenders, both due June 3, include Jewel’s Perfectly Clear and a reissue of P.O.D.’s Greatest Hits: The Atlantic Years.
– Bart Mendoza