Dallas-bred Brad Skistimas, aka Five Times August, estimates he sold somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 copies of his self-released debut, "The Independent," via digital retailers and through his Web

Dallas-bred Brad Skistimas, aka Five Times August, estimates he sold somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 copies of his self-released debut, "The Independent," via digital retailers and through his Web site before he registered the effort with Nielsen SoundScan last summer.

But there was good reason for joining the roll: In August (coincidentally), Five Times August became the first unsigned act to be distributed to Wal-Mart on a national level, with help from Anderson Merchandise.

Licensing success finally got the retail giant onboard. Tracks from the effort earned major TV placements like MTV's "Laguna Beach" and CW's "One Tree Hill" in addition to spots on Oxygen, Lifetime and Fox Reality. The 24-year-old's easygoing pop stylings lend themselves to younger audiences, which have helped form a fan base on MySpace.

The group is set to release a new album, "Brighter Side," March 18, and already the track "Sentimental Spell" has been featured on MTV's "Real World" season finale this month. Skistimas, who says the new album will sound a lot less rock-oriented, hopes to reach new audiences through more placements and an upcoming tour.

"I play all-ages [shows] as much as possible," Skistimas says. "What's great about the music is that it's clear—kids can go, but parents like coming too. I don't like playing an acoustic guitar in bars anyway."

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