Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The cassette revival

Cassette edition of "Let It Be...Naked", 2003.
Never mind the vinyl revival, hot on it's heels is the cassette revival! For those of us who grew up in the seventies, many of us had our first encounters with the music of The Beatles through the cassette medium. For the past five years, the cassette tape market has been experiencing a revival, increasingly so.

In 1969, this was the first cassette player in our household.
Resident Advisor recently reported that America's biggest cassette manufacturer, National Audio Company, has seen sales increase by 33 percent since 2014. NAC owner Steve Stepp told the Chicago Tribune that his firm is making 250 to 350 titles at any given time, including 5 to 10 releases a week from Universal Music Group.

Some major artists are capitalising on the trend. Kanye West's "Yeezus" and Justin Bieber's "Purpose" both had cassette pressings, as does Macklemore's new album (which isn't on vinyl). Roy Culver of Nuclear Blast Records confirms that Slayer's recent "Repentless" LP sold out of its 1,000 cassette run before the record even came out.

Record Store Day 2015 reported growth in cassette tape sales, while a survey by ICM in April last year revealed 5 per cent of music fans had bought a cassette tape that month, up from 2 per cent the previous year.

Beatles collectors are starting to pick up on the trend, and we have seen increased prices in the used cassette market the past years.


The Beatles Golden Greatest Hits, official Swedish release from 1979.
For a long time, getting used Beatles cassette tapes has been relatively easy and affordable, but prices are on the way up. Like the case is with vinyl records, a cassette collector is mostly collecting domestic cassette releases from his own country - when branching out, the original first editions from USA and U.K. is next on the list, followed by more exotic cassettes from other countries. The short-lived trend of cassingles is also a niche to collect, and of course cassette-only releases like the famous Heineken cassette has a place in any collection.

Further reading:
USA cassette releases
UK cassette releases
The Beatles on Cassettes (Facebook group)
WogBlog tag: Beatles Cassettes

7 comments:

RAJ said...

I hate the sound of the crackle from vinyl records. I hate the sound of hiss from tapes. I will never be a vinyl or tape "purist". I am one who embraced the digital age with open arms! I will never understand these two movements...but I have no problem with them doing it as it will never cause the digital age to disappear. Whatever gives them pleasure.

David Moorhead said...

So sales are up to 9 from 6?

I hate cassettes. They are garbage. I loved it when they went away and I want them to stay away, hipsters be damned.

BWSmythe said...

In the UK at least cassettes, just like VHS tapes, could easily be found in charity shops for as little as 10p until recently, but in the last few years the shops have been asking that no-one donate them as they're impossible to sell - thus there'll be thousands of 'collectables' going into the rubbish. But I agree with the above: they were good at the time, but awful in retrospect :)

James Percival said...

Apart from nostalgia I can't see the appeal either. Most pre-recorded tapes used fairly low grade tape. What do they offer that solid state formats like MP3 don't do better including accessing the music you want to hear? Vinyl I can understand because sonically a well mastered and pressed LP on a good turntable offers something CD can't quite match (and I hung on to my vinyl thankfully). But not cassettes.

vagma said...

I guess the next Big Thing will be Betamax.

arrownet said...

You haven't heard Sgt Pepper until you've heard it on wax cylinder.

Terence Daniel Collier said...

If you listen to Tomorrow Never Knows getting chewed up in a tape player it sounds like John is saying ""Wiggum forever, Barney never..."