Christian & Gospel Music Sales Up in Aftermath of September 11

In a nation struggling to find hope
in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Washington D.C., New York and
Pennsylvania, many are finding inspiration in contemporary Christian and
gospel music, according to retailers who have experienced a more than 20
percent increase in sales in the three weeks following the events of
September 11.
“Once again our nation has turned to God during this time of national
crisis. Christian music helps to express all the emotions that people are
feeling right now — everything from the hope they are seeking, the faith
that they hold on to and the many questions that still linger. That may
explain why retailers are reporting increased traffic of consumers looking
for our music and that is definitely showing up in our SoundScan numbers,”
said Frank Breeden, president of the Christian Music Trade Association
(CMTA).
According to SoundScan, the three weeks following the attacks of September
11 saw weekly increases of 26, 23, and 20 percent in Christian music sales
over the same time period last year. These increases factor into the
industry’s year-to-date nine percent increase in sales.
“People are looking for answers and turning to Christian resources in this
time of need,” confirmed Les Dietzman, president and CEO of Family Christian
Stores, the nation’s largest Christian retail chain with 350 stores in 39
states. “We have seen increased traffic in our stores and a noticeable
upturn in sales in most product categories, including music, as people look
to Christian products for comfort, encouragement and inspiration.”
Mainstream retailers are also seeing more traffic by consumers looking for
Christian music. Jimmy Wheeler, Director, National Christian Music Sales for
Provident Music Group, which distributes such artists as Third Day, Michael
W. Smith and Donnie McClurkin, commented, “One of our major mainstream
accounts tells us that they experienced a significant increase in sales of
Christian music the week of September 11 when all other genres were down. I
don’t think that was a coincidence.”
Several new albums, already scheduled for release in September before the
attacks, are selling strong and getting increased exposure. P.O.D.’s new
album, Satellite, released on September 11, and while the band chose to
cancel numerous street week events in New York City, the record has sold
more than 300,000 units. During its first week, it was the sixth
best-selling record in the nation on the Billboard Top 200 Chart. Michael
W. Smith also released a new album on September 11. Worship debuted at #20
on the Billboard chart and has sold more than 120,000 units in its first
three weeks. Steven Curtis Chapman released Declaration on September 25,
scanning nearly 70,000 units in its first week and landing on the #14 spot
of the Billboard national charts, his highest charting album ever.
The tragedy of September 11 impacted not only sales of Christian music, but
the radio community as well. KSBJ in Houston is one of the nation’s most
popular Christian radio stations. The station operates a volunteer phone
line, which Program Director Jon Hull reports has been experiencing
extraordinary volume over the past few weeks.
“We’ve seen a definite increase in calls to our telephone prayer volunteers.
In the first week alone we recorded more than 750 calls. People have been
calling to ask for prayer for our nation, for their families, for the
military and for our President. Listeners became sensitive to the brevity
of life, and I think many of them are taking time now to appreciate things
they may have taken for granted before the tragedy,” Hull said.
Many artists in the Christian music community are responding in personal way
s to the
September 11 attacks including:
· Festival Con Dios tour, headlined by the Newsboys, partnered with the
Salvation Army to raise money for the families of the police officers,
firefighters, and emergency workers who lost their lives in the tragedy in
New York. On each concert date, a representative from the Salvation Army
has been present to collect donations.
· Radio Disney asked new teen pop group Jump 5 to record Lee Greenwood’s
patriotic anthem, “God Bless the U.S.A.,” to provide young listeners with a
song of hope and inspiration in the aftermath of September 11. All net
proceeds from the single will go to the Families of Freedom Scholarship
Fund.
· Integrity Music has released a spoken-word single by best-selling author
Max Lucado. The original text of “A Prayer for America” was published in USA
Today shortly after September 11. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to
World Vision’s American Families Assistance Fund.
· Word Records is releasing a benefit project “For God and Country” that
features 14 songs of faith and freedom including Sandi Patty’s rendition of
“The Star Spangled Banner” and a song featuring Lee Greenwood and Vestal
Goodman entitled “We the People.”
· Dove Award-winning vocal group The Martins, along with several other
southern gospel artists, partnered with the Solid Gospel Radio Network for
benefit concert last week in Nashville.
Overall, contemporary Christian and gospel music is on track for a record
sales year, posting a nine percent increase in sales through the third
quarter of 2001 compared to the same period last year. According to
SoundScan, total album units sold from January 1 to October 1, 2001 were
29,743,000, compared to 27,286,000 for the same period in 2000, an increase
of 2.5 million units.
“We’re on track to sell 50 million records for the first time in our
industry’s history,” said Breeden. “We are now just entering our busiest
sales season of the year and with releases such as WoW 2002, Third Day’s
Come Together and Jennifer Knapp’s The Way I Am, as well as Christmas
projects from Jaci Velasquez, Fred Hammond, Anne Murray and Stacie Orrico, I
am confident we will have our best year ever.”
The top 10 selling albums for the first nine months of 2001 are:
1. SONGS 4 WORSHIP:SHOUT TO THE LORD/Various Artists/Integrity Music
2. LIVE IN LONDON AND MORE/Donnie McClurkin/Verity
3. WOW 2001/Various Artists/EMI CMG, Word, Provident
4. SATELLITE/P.O.D./Atlantic
5. WOW WORSHIP GREEN/Various/Integrity Music
6. FREE TO FLY/Point Of Grace/Word
7. WOW GOSPEL 2001/Various/EMI CMG, Word Provident
8. THANKFUL/Mary Mary/Word, Columbia
9. PROMISE/Plus One/Atlantic
10. OFFERINGS: A WORSHIP ALBUM/Third Day/Essential
The CMTA is the contemporary Christian and gospel music industry’s trade
organization responsible for managing Christian SoundScan and creating
opportunities for growth and penetration of the marketplace for
music-related products, services and activities which communicate the gospel
throughout the world. Founded in 1964, the 5,000-member Gospel Music
Association is dedicated to educating the public and the music industry
concerning the mission and role of gospel music in today’s world. The GMA
produces the Dove Awardsä, which recognizes achievement in all genres of
gospel music and is the premiere television awards show for the contemporary
Christian and gospel music industry.

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