Christian music—with annual sales of 300 million dollars for records, tapes, and compact disks, and millions more in concert tickets and merchandise—is recoiling from a major slump. After a few boom years of 10 to 20 percent annual growth, record companies are waking up to 1987 sales that are 20 to 30 percent below projections, according to MusicLine Update, an industry newsletter.

Sales of records and tapes are down, causing cutbacks at record companies and jitters among Christian bookstore owners. Retail sales have been hurt in part by higher retail prices for records. According to the Christian Booksellers Association’s (CBA) 1987 Operating Statement Survey, music sales now account for only 18.5 percent of total sales in the average Christian bookstore. In 1985, the figure stood at 23 percent.

Pop/Rock Tailspin

Sales of contemporary Christian recordings have been hardest hit. According to Todd Hafer, assistant editor of CBA’SBookstore Journal, recordings in the pop/rock field held 16 of the top 20 spots on the magazine’s “Best-Selling Christian Recordings” chart in September 1985. By July 1986, contemporary recordings held 12 positions. And on last month’s music chart, they held only 6 of the 20 positions.

In addition, concert attendance is spotty. Some observers say the problems can be attributed to a lack of new recordings by Christian “superstars.” Singers Amy Grant and Sandi Patti have not released new albums in more than a year. And since both popular singers are expecting babies, they have cut back on live appearances.

“We’re kind of low on talent right now,” says Jon Robberson of Celebration Concerts, a major Christian concert promoter in ...

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