Invariably, in my classes and seminars, someone will ask me about distribution. It's part of the Dream -- if you can get distribution, you're guaranteed success, right? No. All distribution means is that you'll get a few copies of your disc dumped in a bin with all the other bands that start with the same letter as you.
Something that I find encouraging (even though some hard-core indies don't like it) is the trend among mass-market retailers to contract directly with artists to produce exclusive tracks or discs for their stores. Right now, it's making sense for the Big Players, who have enough cache to get feet through the door at Target or Starbucks.
But I do believe that trends like this trickle down. And it's not long before someone clever finds a way to make deals like this work with regional chains or even small mom-and-pop stores. It's probably already happening on a scale too small for the news radar, so if you have some examples for me, share them in the comments.