Cassettes Refuse to Die and We’re Not Upset About That

ByJosephine J. Romero

Mar 30, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


In the course of the latest taping of a new podcast, the issue subject pivoted to cassettes. We know why the topic came up but we just didn’t assume it to dominate the base half of the discussion. Mitch Anderson, Brian Mitchell, and I are all outdated sufficient to have developed up with cassette tapes, boom bins, mix tapes, and the Sony Walkman — but we in no way envisioned the structure to have any legs in 2022.

Maxell Tape Magazine Ad 1983
Maxell Tape Journal Advertisement 1983

It will shock some to study that the venerable Maxell tape is still in desire even although its distribution is constrained to Japan immediately after a final decision by the parent enterprise in 2020 to cease marketing its UR ferric-oxide-centered cassettes overseas. You can locate them in very restricted portions on Amazon for all around $12 USD for a solitary 120 minute UR cassette. The XLII-S tapes from our youth are no longer staying manufactured.


If you study a whole lot of tech magazines, specified content adhere in your memory and a 2009 piece in Things resolved the viability of cassettes and concluded in a follow-up piece pretty much 9 yrs later on that audio cassettes have been useless like MTV.

The challenge with that is that indie artists and labels uncovered that more youthful tunes supporters essentially adore the format and with hundreds of thousands of employed tape decks floating all over pawn stores, eBay, and vintage audio stores — there is a industry nonetheless for the format.

But is anyone essentially buying them?

According to the 2020 gross sales data, from sources in the United Kingdom, United States, and New Zealand — new cassette tape sales climbed more than 100% in 2020 with additional than 65,000 new albums sold in H1 2020 in England by itself.

Discogs Cassette Sales Report 2019 vs 2020
Source: Discogs

Discogs described that above 282,000 new cassette tapes had been offered as a result of their marketplace in 2020 which was a modest 33% boost over 2019.

The 2021 info showed on total increase to above 500,000 units a tiny variety in comparison to vinyl or CDs but an uptick that can not be ignored entirely.

The pandemic and global lockdowns have performed a huge part in this revival for confident most men and women have struggled with the alienation and detachment from typical everyday living and for a lot of audio listeners around 40 — cassette tapes consider them again to a different era wherever electronic was not the prime pet and we created combine tapes for our buddies, spouses, girlfriends, and it took actual effort to make it materialize.

Anyone can simply click a couple of tabs on their smartphone and develop a playlist in 2021. My 8 calendar year-old has a iPad and Spotify account stuffed with playlists that she shares with her close friends, but none of the tracks get listened to for more than 20 seconds.

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Producing a blend tape took study and the persistence to time out the gaps between every music we all pumped our fists in the air when the remaining music completed recording with seconds remaining on the tape.

We all yanked out our ideal markers, and cut out pictures of rock stars from magazines to create the finest tailor made deal with artwork for the lucky recipient.

I’ve been jogging from the people at the Columbia Tape & Document Club for almost 25 years however searching for the $43.45 that I nonetheless owe them.

Columbia Record & Tape Club Magazine Ad
Columbia Record & Tape Club Journal Ad

Nostalgia apart, cassette tapes ended up usually very handy all people owned a Sony Walkman, tape deck in their auto, and some of us ended up fortunate ample to have a Nakamichi or large-finish NAD, Sony, or Revox tape deck.

The COVID-19 pandemic developed a further option for audio cassettes as indie artists (and some incredibly well known artists like Girl Gaga) needed to make a dwelling in 2020 with no are living audio gatherings. Record and tape gross sales became a person of the most critical resources of revenue for artists who couldn’t tour and created next to very little from streaming royalties.

Individuals might chortle, but a great deal of artists survived on physical new music revenue all through the pandemic and they have a new generation of fans who are structure agnostic and just want to delight in their favorite audio.

Nakamichi Dragon Cassette Deck
Nakamichi Dragon Cassette Deck

For artists, cassette tapes are a large amount more cost-effective to generate than data (which are using for a longer period to get pressed in 2021 with a huge backlog at urgent vegetation) and a actual physical item that enthusiasts can actually personal in the period of music rentals (that would be streaming).

Will cassette tapes working experience the identical sort of revival as data or CDs? Not very likely as no person is definitely rushing to make Nakamichi Dragons any longer and indie artists are only generating tapes in incredibly constrained portions.

For all those of us who never bought their Nakamichi and NAD tape decks, it may possibly be the correct time to dust off that box in the basement with people prized blend tapes and see how a lot lifestyle and recollections they nonetheless have to deliver.

Who remembers this popular Tv commercial by Maxell?


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