Christian Music Sales Strong at Mid Year

The contemporary Christian and gospel
music industry is seeing a double-digit sales increase over last year, going
against the tide of slower sales in the overall music industry, announced
the Christian Music Trade Association (CMTA) today.
According to SoundScan, contemporary Christian and gospel music album sales
are up more than 12 percent in 2001 compared to the first half of 2000. The
overall music industry’s album sales are down nearly 3 percent for the same
period. Total album units sold from January 1 to July 1, 2001, were
19,830,000, compared to 17,669,000 for the same period in 2000, an increase
of 2.2 million units.
“We are clearly excited about the direction sales are going this year,” said
Frank Breeden, president of the CMTA. “Last year, we had our first decline
in overall sales in five years as a result of a lighter than usual release
schedule. In light of the fact that we still have many of our biggest
releases of the year coming in the next six months, this makes our
industry’s sales success all the more noteworthy. We believe this makes a
strong statement about the strength and continued potential of our genre.”
Best-selling artists’ new studio releases, the continued emerging success of
urban and worship music, and direct sales are fueling the sales growth for
Word Records’ Point of Grace and Sparrow Records’ Avalon began the
procession of major artist releases with record sales their first weeks on
the Billboard charts. Point of Grace sold 43,701 units of Free to Fly in
its first week of sales (week ending 5/5), landing at #20 on the Billboard
Top 200 chart — the highest debut week ever for the gold- and
platinum-selling female vocal group. 1996’s Dove New Artist of the Year
Avalon’s first week (week ending 5/27) sales of Oxygen sold 33,419, placing
it at #37 on the Billboard Top 200. That first week mark for Avalon was a
65% increase over the debut week of its last studio release. Both albums
continue strong sales after their initial release.
The top 10 albums for the first half of 2001 are:
1. Various – Songs 4 Worship: Shout to the
2. Donnie McClurkin – Live in London and More/Verity
3. Various – WoW 2001/Sparrow
4. Various – WoW Gospel 2001/Verity
5. Various – WoW Worship Green/Integrity
6. Plus One – The Promise/Atlantic
7. Mary Mary – Thankful/Columbia/Word
8. Point of Grace – Free to Fly/Word
9. Yolanda Adams – Mountain High…Valley Low/Elektra
10. Various – WoW Worship Blue/Integrity
Among the major releases expected to contribute to the year’s final sales
totals are the 2000 Dove Award winners for Group of the Year Third Day, Male
Vocalist of the Year Steven Curtis Chapman, New Artist of the Year Plus One
and Songwriter of the Year Nicole C. Mullen. Mary Mary, Michael W. Smith,
Jaci Velasquez, Shirley Caesar and P.O.D. are also among the gold- and
platinum-selling artists that will release new projects by year’s end.
Direct sales continue to be factor in the overall sales success for
Christian and gospel music. Counted in the category of non-traditional
sales, direct sales on television or via the Internet have experienced a 502
percent increase over last year, due primarily to Integrity Music’s Songs 4
Worship continuity series, distributed by TIME/LIFE via television
advertising sales. TIME/LIFE has invested more than $40 million in
television advertising. Four titles in the series have sold more than 2.6
million units in its first six months.
The other strong area for Christian and gospel music is the urban/gospel
category, which represents 25% of all sales thus far in 2001. Some of last
year’s strongest sellers including Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin and Mary
Mary continue to top the charts along with the newest releases from Bishop
T.D. Jakes, CeCe Winans and the Kingdom Come Soundtrack.
Sales of Christian videos are also up in 2001, experiencing a 14 percent
increase over the first half of 2000. Total Christian video sales are at
2,463,000 compared to 2,161,000 last year at this time. These sales have
been fueled by several strong video sellers, including comedian Mark Lowry’s
Mark Lowry on Broadway, which reached the top spot on the overall Billboard
Video chart, a position it held for five weeks since its April release.
VeggieTales’ Lyle the Kindly Viking is the number one video at the mid-year
point, having peaked on Billboard’s highly competitive Kids Video chart at
“As a category, contemporary Christian and gospel music remains vital and
thriving due to our industry’s ability to reach new audiences through
innovative marketing approaches. If we can get the music in front of them,
they will respond. Consumers everywhere continue to react favorably to
entertainment that resonates with their need for inspiration, hope and
spirituality” said Breeden.
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 Awards(, 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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