Back in the day (and that day was not very long ago), only the most popular recording artists were able sell enough units right out of the box to grab the top spot on Billboard’s Album chart. Not anymore.

As digital downloading, file sharing and piracy continue to eat into bona fide sales, it’s taking fewer and fewer sales to, as Casey Kasem would say, "Go straight to the top." Case in point. Chrisette Michele. Chrisette Michele? The one who was on Letterman? (see video below) .. Ohhh that Chrisette Michele.

Okay, maybe she’s not that well known. But she will be and here’s why. Chrisette’s latest release, Epiphany, did sell 83,000 copies—and she did make the top spot on the Billboard Album chart. That’s quite an accomplishment whether you’re a household name or not. So this is not about Chrisette Michele. She obviously has a following and can sell lots of CDs and downloads. To find out who the other top sellers are, along with analysis, see "The Lefsetz Letter" at L2PBandspace (it’s just to the left of the members’ pictures).

This is about numbers. 83,000 is the lowest first-week sales total ever in Neilsen SoundScan’s 18-year history. The lowest ever—and it earned her the numero ono slot. So when you hear talk about new, stronger Anti-Piracy laws, it’s obvious that it’s the entertainment industry that’s behind them. They are scared and quite rightfully so. While there will be controversy, you can expect that industry will push the government as hard as necessary to crack down on Pirates. In France, a new law that allows the government to disconnect users from the Internet is close to passage (for analysis and opinion on that law, go to TorrentFreak.com. To comment on this issue, see Bill Evans posting "Pirate Bay" at the L2pBandSpace).

Meanwhile, Chicago’s Wilco has decided to take a more pro-active approach and plugged a leak by breaking the dam. Yesterday, the group began streaming it’s new disc, "Wilco (the album)" for free as wilcoworld.net. That disc isn’t due out until June 30th, but earlier in the day 11 tracks made it on to Internet. In an eMail to fans, the group said "We know you’re curious and probably have better things to do than scour the Internet for a download (though we do understand the attraction of the illicit)," For anyone who had already grabbed an unauthorized download, the group suggested they ease their guilt by making a donation to the Inspiration Corp., a Chicago organization that works with the poor and homeless.

Now here’s Chrisette Michelle singing "Blame It On Me" from the David Letterman Show (5/13).