According to new sales figures for 2010, music sales are finally starting to move up the charts.

While music sales in the overall industry fell 19.4% last year, unit sales in Christian retail dropped by only 9.2%, said Greg Bays, chairman of the Christian Music Trade Association, which tracks the sales of Christian music. At the same time, sales of Christian music in mainstream outlets were down 22.4%, while Christian retail chains only saw a 4.4% sales decline in the category.

“Across the Christian retail market, it appears that the chains have been more consistent in increasing their store counts and their overall market share,” Bays told Christian Retailing. “Retailers—including the chains and many strong independents—have succeeded when they have been aggressive in focusing on music as a significant category, which drives traffic and sales at Christian retail.”

As far as digital sales, Christian music saw a 7.6% increase compared to a 5.8% rise in the overall industry. In 2009, Christian music’s digital sales grew 28.3%, Bays said. “As any new format/configuration matures, sales growth associated with that format year-over-year will slow down over time.”

The three top-selling Christian albums last year were Tonight by TobyMac (Forefront Records/EMI CMG), Here I Am by Marvin Sapp (Verity Records/Provident-Integrity Distribution) and Awake by Skillet (Atlantic/Ardent/INO Records/Provident-Integrity).

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