Cassettes have fast-forwarded in popularity and re-emerged as music format of choice for experiential listeners.
Streaming is saving the music industry and vinyl is in. So say the numbers. According to Nielsen Music, listeners racked up 400 billion streams in 2017, a catalyst for the industry’s overall growth by more than 12 percent. Meanwhile, vinyl LPs have made up a larger share of the market each year since 2005. Though vinyl has made a record-setting (and incredibly publicised) comeback in recent years, it’s still not music’s fastest-growing physical medium. That physical medium is….. the cassette tape.
Cassette sales in the U.S. have more than quadrupled since 2011, with 174,000 tapes sold in the last year alone. Data from Nielsen Music points to a few obvious explanations. Cassette pressings for high-profile releases like, Jay-Z‘s 4:44, and Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy soundtracks are selling well at retailers like Urban Outfitters, which also offers cassette players and recorders with USB compatibility.
Classic tapes like AC/DC and the Wu-Tang Clan are also getting in on the trend, issuing small runs of classic albums — Back In Black and Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), respectively — on cassette for 2018 Record Store Day.
There’s even Cassette Store Day, a smaller celebration dedicated exclusively to the tape format. Each October for the past five years, independent labels have made exclusive tapes by artists like White Stripes available at record shops around the world. Sean Bohrman, the founder of cassette-only label Burger Records and an organizer of the celebration in the U.S., says Cassette Store Day’s underdog spirit keeps it relevant.
“It’s about showing stores that they can sell cassettes,” he says, “because there are still a ton of doubters out there who think it’s a joke or that it’s just nostalgia.”
Despite its growing availability in stores, much of the cassette’s resurgence has played out online. A majority of tapes were purchased on the web in 2016, many from vendors such as Burger directly. That’s in stark contrast to vinyl, which consumers overwhelmingly buy at brick and mortar stores.
In fact, it’s hard to overstate just how much the internet has empowered the cassette’s most ardent fans. Maintaining the DIY ethos that characterized the tape trading movement in the 1980s and 1990s, today’s cassette culture comprises an entire online ecosystem with its own forums and marketplaces in which bands, labels and collectors buy and sell tapes for a fraction of the cost of an LP.
A huge amount of artists as well started to re-use tapes and 4 tracks portable studio as an instrument, basically modifying cassette tapes to obtain Tape Loops.
Amulets is the perfect example for this kind of re-revolution in making music, that is not new, neither old. It’s floating in the middle. And I love it.