With the gradual but still limited resurgence of music on cassette, from avid collectors to new releases, the seemingly unthinkable has been happening whether you've been keeping up or not. I know I was out of the loop but the more I find out, the more fascinating the growing interest in cassettes and other older forms of media becomes. Perhaps releasing an album on cassette could even be a good marketing maneuver.
WSJ - A Cassette Tape Comeback
A few years back it seemed like we were in the final days of music on cassette with sales dropping and most cassette news about art using or depicting cassettes and cassette tape. But Lauren Rudser, writing for The Wall Street Journal, recently documented the ongoing existence of cassette tape culture. In fact, some see a resurgence of cassettes in the future similar to that of the return of vinyl.
Though I find the idea that cassettes could make the same return as vinyl unlikely, despite the work of such scratch tape artists as the awe-inspiring DJ Ruthless Ramsey, I do believe that cassettes have the potential for something more than nostalgia collections.
Much of the article and the above video focus on throwback collectors, but they were also my introduction to the existence of Oakland's Sanity Muffin, a small label focused on cassette releases. Label owner Billy Sprague came up with the idea as a lower budget alternative to CD and vinyl releases for his friends but it's become an interesting boutique label in the process. And, apparently, he's not alone.
I have no idea how widespread such releases are at the moment but I do think they suggest some interesting marketing possibilities for emerging artists who want to benefit from the combination of nostalgia and the ongoing reinvestigation of every decade of the late 20th Century. Or who just want something that will catch some attention for being a bit different.
I've also been discovering that young electronic music artists, not dance music but electronic music from the lineage of such artists as John Cage, are getting back into reel-to-reel tape for music production and performance. On a related note, there's also said to be a zine revival and so the potential for the return of older forms of media, including the well-established interest in 8-track tapes, should continue with both cult appeal and marketing potential.
Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. He maintains a business writing hub at Flux Research and also blogs at This Business of Blogging. To suggest music services and related topics for review at Hypebot, please contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.