music, stats

Christian Album Sales – Week of 10/18/2011

It looked like Casting Crowns might score the first #1 on the Billboard 200 for a “Christian group” last week, but Adele ended up selling more albums, crossing the 4 million mark in sales for her runaway hit 21. Casting Crowns scored their second #2 with 99,000 sales of Come To The Well, following The Altar & The Door in 2007. The only other Christian albums considered to have reached that high are Underoath’s Define The Great Line, Skillet’s Awake, and Red’s Until We Have Faces (source). In terms of raw sales, however, this was lower than Casting Crown’s previous two full-length albums. Their complete full-length discography with first-week sales numbers and positions:

Casting Crowns – 2003 – N/A – #59
Lifesong – 2005 – 71,000 copies – #9
The Altar & The Door – 2007 – 129,000 copies – #2
Until The Whole World Hears – 2009 – 167,000 copies – #4
Come To The Well – 2011 – 99,000 copies – #4

Family Force 5 hit #61 with sales of almost 7,000 units. This is their second full-length to chart but it did not do as well as Dance or Die. I am personally one of the people who bought Dance or Die when it came out on the strength of their previous album but did not like it quite as much. Their new material seems to have a continued decline of lyrical and musical quality. Family Force 5’s complete full-length release info:

Business Up Front, Party In The Back – 2006 – N/A – did not chart
Dance or Die – 2008 – 17,000 copies – #30
III – 2011 – 7,000 copies – #61

Sara Groves reached #96 with sales of over 4,000 units of her tenth album Invisible Empires. As far as I can tell, this is her highest charting position ever, as it looks like her previous album was the first to chart at all. Release info for her two most recent albums:

Fireflies & Songs – 2009 – N/A – #119
Invisible Empires – 2011 – 4,000 copies – #96

One of the interesting things about the Nielson Soundscan data is that sales from Christian outlets are counted towards the weekly totals that determine chart positions, but for whatever reason they are not included in the total sales for the album that are displayed in the data. While this makes it hard to know how much Christian albums are really selling, by keeping track of the data I can not only determine how much the albums are truly selling, I can also tell “how Christian” the artists are by what percentage of their sales are coming from Christian outlets. I haven’t been keeping track of old data for a long time, so I can only give you the percentages for albums that are new this week. Here is the summary of chart positions for albums of interest:

Artist Album Rk This Week Total Real Total MnSt%
Casting Crowns Come To The Well 2 99138 45624 99468 45.9%
Various WOW Hits 2012 42 9229 15872
Family Force 5 III 61 6902 6212 6940 89.5%
Casting Crowns Until The Whole World Hears 63 6759 302979
Switchfoot Vice Verses 64 6952 56503
Sara Groves Invisible Empires 96 4290 3963 4383 90.4%
Mat Kearney Young Love 97 4265 94407
Tenth Avenue North Light Meets The Dark 111 3958 83663
Chris Tomlin Glory In The Highest 115 3907 94938
Needtobreathe Reckoning 134 3549 66971
Civil Wars Barton Hollow 140 3391 195189
Mandisa What If We Were Real 150 3253 33347
Skillet Awake 164 3157 633585
Kirk Franklin Hello Fear 185 2775 368114

As you can see, only 45.9% of Casting Crown’s sales came from the “mainstream” market, which means over half of their sales are from Christian bookstores and similar outlets. Family Force 5, unsurprisingly, is almost 90% mainstream. They are still sold in Christian bookstores but have not especially been cultivating a Christian fan base lately. I was surprised to see Sara Groves register as 90% mainstream. I know she used to have songs on Christian radio although I haven’t followed her as much lately. Next week I will be able to give you percentages for all the albums that are on the chart both weeks.