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10 September 2007

Dove and GRAMMY Award-winning band Casting Crowns made an impressive and historical No. 2 debut on The Billboard 200, the chart of the top-selling CDs for the week ending Sept. 2 according to Nielsen SoundScan. Casting Crowns’ new release The Altar and The Door sold 129,000 copies, selling just below the juggernaut High School Musical 2 soundtrack. The Altar and The Door, which is the group's third studio album and surpasses its previous Billboard chart high at No. 9 with Lifesong (71,000) in 2005, scored the No. 2 position and the week’s highest debut without mainstream radio or TV exposure.

The sales success is no surprise to those in the Christian/gospel community who have supported Casting Crowns’ first two CDs Casting Crowns (2003) and Lifesong (2005) by making them back-to-back RIAA-certified Platinum sellers, radio hitmakers and touring favorites. The Atlanta-based band has won multiple Dove Awards, gospel music’s highest honor, including three for Group of the Year. Mark Hall, frontman and primary songwriter, has also earned two Dove Awards for Songwriter of the Year.

“Casting Crowns is in great company, coming in second only to High School Musical 2 on The Billboard 200, suggesting perhaps that the music buying audience has an appetite for music that is family-friendly, and in Castings Crowns’ case, faith affirming. That is great news, not only for our business, but also for our culture,” said John W. Styll, president of the Christian Music Trade Association (CMTA).

Styll noted that the success of Casting Crowns is particularly remarkable because it has happened thanks primarily to the Christian subculture which has embraced the band’s bold affirmation of faith.

The band joins artists like Chris Tomlin, Third Day, TobyMac and Steven Curtis Chapman who have sold millions of units without the benefit of significant mainstream radio airplay or other general market awareness. “And yet, Casting Crowns’ album does not promote isolation from the mainstream culture. In fact, at the heart of The Altar and The Door, is the theme of Christianity’s command that faith needs to be lived both in the church at the altar and outside the doors of the church,” Styll added.

The Altar and The Door’s first week sales make it the fourth highest debut in terms of units sold for a Christian/gospel record since Nielsen SoundScan began counting sales at Christian retail in 1996. Switchfoot’s 2005 Nothing is Sound (131,000), P.O.D.’s 2001 Satellite (133,000) and Leann Rimes’ 1997 You Light Up My Life (186,000) are the only albums that have sold more units in their first weeks. It is the third album to debut on The Billboard 200 as one of the top two albums along with Rimes’ You Light Up My Life which debuted at No. 1 and Underoath’s Define the Great Line, which also debuted at No. 2 in 2006 (but with fewer units sold).

About CMTA and GMA:

The Christian Music Trade Association (www.cmta.com), a sister organization of the GMA, exists to build community and cooperation among Christian/gospel music companies in order to address mutual business issues and maximize impact on culture. The CMTA oversees various industry initiatives and also operates Christian SoundScan and BDS. Founded in 1964, the Gospel Music Association serves as the face and voice for the Christian/Gospel music community and is dedicated to exposing, promoting and celebrating the gospel through music of all styles including pop, rock, praise & worship, black gospel, R&B, hip hop, southern gospel, country, and more. The GMA community consists of 4,000 members including agents, artists, church leaders, managers, promoters, radio personnel, record company executives, retailers, songwriters and other industry visionaries. The GMA produces the GMA Dove Awards, GMA Music Week, GMA Music in the Rockies, and the GMA Academy. For more information, please visit www.gospelmusic.org.

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