Will country find sales to crow about?

From Associated Press

Country music sales are off 10% from last year.

But with releases by Kenny Chesney and Big & Rich still to come and the Country Music Assn. broadcasting its annual awards show this month, no one is panicking. “We still have a chance to make it up and get up to last year’s final tally,” said Bill Kennedy, vice president of sales for Capitol Records Nashville.

Through the week ending Oct. 2, country music sold about 45.2 million units, compared with 50.2 million units for the same period last year -- a 10% drop, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Country isn’t the only genre struggling in 2005. Across all genres, music sales fell from about 445.5 million units to 414.6 million units -- a 7% decline.

“I think the hurricanes have in some areas had catastrophic results for music sales,” said Ben Kline, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Universal Music Group Nashville. “Gas prices probably hurt us more than other genres. That extra trip to Wal-Mart or Target [major country music retailers] is probably not being made, and our records feel the sting more from that.”