Cassettes are, to the surprise of many, the latest physical format of music to have a revival. Whilst the sales of tapes account for only 1% of all albums sold, the year on year growth in the market has been an unexpected success story.
One of my most popular services is converting cassettes to mp3 or CD. With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to look at the phenomenon.
Cassettes – The History
The audio cassette was once the most popular format for music. During the 1980s this format outsold both CDs and vinyl LPs. The popularity of tapes was due to the easy way they could be played anywhere. Unlike CDs or records, tapes could be played on the go, either through a Walkman or on a car stereo. They were also less likely to be damaged than vinyl records.
Another factor for the popularity of cassettes was the price. They normally cost the same as a vinyl record. Back in the 1980s and 1990s this usually meant they were half the price of the same album on CD.
Cassettes only really lost popularity when portable digital music became possible. Portable CD players – The Discman – meant you could play CDs anywhere, and then in the late 1990s mp3 players first became available.
Cassettes – Why The Revival?
Many have been left surprised by the resurgence in cassette sales. Whilst the passion for vinyl never really went away, many had assumed that tapes would not be missed.
It is true that the sound quality of music cassettes is not as good as vinyl records. They also do not have the clarity or perfection of digital formats. What they do have, however, is a great deal of nostalgia. Many of us grew up with tapes being either our preferred or only format in which to hear music.
Whilst mp3 files or streaming services are convenient, they tend to overlook the fact that people are tactile. We like to hold and touch things. Holding a piece of music you like, and admiring the artwork, is for many just as important as hearing the album.
How Many Cassettes Are Being Bought?
According to an article on the Official Chart website, nearly 20,000 tapes had been sold in 2017. Whilst this is relatively low in terms of all album sales, it is in fact more than double the number sold in 2016.
One of the biggest drivers for the increased sales is undoubtedly the Guardians Of The Galaxy films. In those films, one of the main characters frequently plays “mix tapes” on their Walkman. This served to inadvertently introduce a generation unaware of cassettes to the music format.
Some 80 albums were released on cassette during 2017. Artists who released their albums in this format include Kasabian, Morrissey, Blondie, The Charlatans and Arcade Fire. More acts are expected to release their albums on cassette during 2018. The Manic Street Preachers have already announced that their next album will be available in this format.
Events such as Cassette Store Day are also helping increase the interest levels in this format.
Cassettes – What I Do For You
It’s great to see tapes once again being popular. On a practical level, though, not everyone has the equipment required to listen to them.
My services convert audio cassettes to a format of your choice. I can convert recordings to either mp3 files or CD. I am, of course, happy to do both!
I’ve added some examples of my tape to CD work on my You Tube channel. The most recent of these examples has been a tape called Bend It!, which features football songs, commentary and interview. Here’s the direct links for part one and part two.
If you have cassettes that you’d like in a digital format, please get in touch. You can get hold of me through the details on the contact page.