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Vanessa’s test

How a former substitute teacher muscled her way to the CD rack at Best Buy.

November 25, 2008|By Michael Miller

Vanessa Jourdan used up her lunch hour June 20 to race down to Best Buy at the Metro Pointe at South Coast shopping center to check for a new CD on the rack. She didn’t intend to purchase the album, but when she found it, she examined the front and back cover intently and snapped one picture after another on her cellphone.

The CD, “Eternal Things,” was Jourdan’s third album — and she had taken advantage of RegionalCD, a program that permits independent artists to submit their work to be sold at Best Buy. Jourdan, a member of Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa, didn’t expect to make much money off record store sales; most of her minimal earnings come from people who buy her songs online. Still, she couldn’t help but feel giddy seeing her work on the rack between Janis Joplin and Journey.

“It’s something I never imagined would happen,” said Jourdan, 32, a Texas native who has been pursuing a music career for a decade. “Reality is never what you expect. But this is something I will tell my grandkids about. Grandma had a CD in Best Buy.”

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Like many independent musicians, Jourdan has no agent, contract or connections in the major-label world; she works during the week as an administrator in an autism therapy program in Irvine. That hasn’t stopped her, though, from putting her work on the shelf with the Kanye Wests and U2s of the industry. With a number of websites making artists’ music instantly available throughout the world and even Best Buy stocking independent discs on the shelf, doing it yourself has become easier than ever in pop music.

Getting rich, of course, is another matter. The consensus among many observers and experts is that the music industry is in a steady decline as CD sales drop and illegal file-sharing on the Web proliferates. Rolling Stone published a two-part series last summer on the market’s financial woes, even quoting an anonymous industry source who declared, “There won’t be any major labels pretty soon.”

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