You know those “How to know if you were a child of the 90s” kinds of lists? The ones that are full of nostalgia with a hint of you’re-getting-up-there-in-years? I remember reading through one and seeing an image of a cassette tape and a pencil with some caption about how 90s kids understand the connection between these two objects. In fact, most of these lists make a reference to cassettes.
I get it. I get it. Our favourite music format as kids is now a joke.
Except it’s not.
Cassette tapes are coming back into fashion in all their questionable sound quality glory. Bobby Owsinski recently wrote all about the comeback for Hypebot:
It looks like another format that was left for dead is making a dramatic comeback. Believe it or not, the cassette tape is selling better than it has in years, and new tape decks are again being made.
According to National Audio Company, the largest of the companies still involved in cassette manufacturing, the company sold nearly 10 million units last year (remember that vinyl only did 13 million with a lot more hoopla about it).
Of that number, a surprising 70% was actually production copies made for two of the major labels Sony and Universal, along with a few small indie labels. The other 30% were blank tapes.
The company sees such an upturn in cassette sales that it persuaded Teac/Tascam to reintroduce tape machines long out of production.
So who’s buying most of the tapes? You’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t).
Just like vinyl, it’s the under-35 crowd who’s gravitating back to the format. After listening to digital music all their lives, they’ve found they preferred analog.
Although many have looked down on the cassette as an inferior playback format, a fresh tape in a well-aligned machine can actually provide surprisingly good performance.
That’s too much to hope for in this new resurgence, but it’s nice for people to experience analog audio once again.
So, there you have it. Cassette tapes are coming soon to a merch table near you!
*I was on Twitter for all of five minutes today and saw someone announcing that they were releasing new music on cassette. Proof.*