Why Cassette Labels Are More Important Than Many Can Understand - hypebot

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Mick

hey...good luck with that. there are those of us who grew up with cassettes when that was the only means of acquiring music - they sucked then, and they suck now! that was when the music industry hit the lowest point it ever had - even 8-tracks were superior to cassettes; ANYTHING is superior to cassettes!!!

blaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!

Clyde Smith

Thanks for perfectly illustrating one of my key points in the piece!

Joe

I have a cassette label and it's one of the funnest things I've ever done.
It's cheap. I get to work with rad musicians and I get to make all the artwork which is kind of the best part. The cassette culture is really for collectors as all of us cassette labels do very limited runs. I think most of us are in to doing vinyl but it's much more costly. And lastly, a lot of us include mp3 downloads with the tapes so it's a fun combo for the 80's/90's nostalgic people and the current iPod generation.
Check out the site if you like: springbreaktapes.com
And to hell with the guy who wouldn't do an interview. I certainly would do one.

Chris

Actually Mick cassettes sound better than 8-track. Cassette tape has less wow and flutter, less crosstalk and better tape formulations. Also, the majority of cassette recorders have much better electronics than 8-track machines.
I grew up with vinyl, cassettes and 8-track as well. I prefer cassette over all of them. Even sounds better than the audio out of my iphone.

thinkaboutit

Informative article but it seems to me that real story of cassette and vinyl's come back is a preference for analogue sound over digital sound. I'd like to know, for instance, if the artists on these cassette labels record exclusively to tape without any digital recording/mixing/editing involved in the process. Multi track recording is still very popular in the music industry (often used for recording bass and drums) because of "that sound" and feeling that most of us still prefer, given the choice. But usually, analogue is combined with digital editing and mixing. Engineers tend to be practical people and splicing tape is labor intensive. But a real analogue purist would never let digital get anywhere near that process, going so far as to release on cassette or vinyl. I record to computer but still have my old Tascam 1/2" 8 track I want to start using again, possibly for a purist session, but primarily to get the best from analogue and then bounce that to a digital work station for easy editing, cheap/free plug in effects, etc.
I do believe that with revenue being more difficult for artists to generate due to online piracy, analogue "old school" mediums should only become more popular. The artist has something to actually sell again, such as a vinyl record (expensive to pirate) and the listener gets to have an authentic, analogue experience. It seems to me to be a win/win direction for the music industry, from the small indie label up to the big corporates. There is a lot being written all at once about how technology is the greatest single job killer of all. MP3 and digital piracy have done more to kill artist profits than any other single culprit.
Instead of trying to put the digital genie back in the bottle, shifting our focus away from it might be the best way to minimize its negative effects on revenue stream and audio quality.

Rad

I agree with thinkaboutit.

Before reading this article, I hadn't thought about cassette tape for a long time, but it makes perfect sense as a way for small budget artists to distribute the great sound of analog without the high cost of vinyl.

For my newest album, I had planned to make a high-rez bluray version, and even a flac available on bandcamp (give a free download certificate with cd purchase) but now I'm considering a cassette transfer as well. It's not 100% purist doing it that way, but 32bit/192kHz would be quite portable on cassette. Can ipods even handle 24bit/96kHz, let alone 32bit/192kHz?

Clyde Smith

Thanks for the info. I like the simplicity of your site.

I didn't mention the individual or the label who wasn't interested in coverage cause he's actually a really great guy. In fact, he's someone who's turned me on to a number of musicians and helped get me into the scene.

I'm not sure what was going on but, honestly, you'd dig what he's doing. Asheville's interesting because it's such a face-to-face town in so many ways. Everybody's on the web but they don't really seem to be about the web.

I'll keep you in mind when I figure out what I'm doing next.

Clyde Smith

Yeah, the recording process and aesthetic preferences related to that are something I need to find out more about.

And I've seen and am told that reel-to-reel is coming back via some of the younger electronic musicians. So, yeah, splicing by hand!

But I see what you're saying about capturing the sound and then shifting to digital for the rest of the work.

Clyde Smith

I have a friend who's kind of my marketing project for the coming year.

I'm going to be looking at this topic with him in mind as well. I think his work would be of interest to a lot of the people drawn to this kind of thing. Might be a way to put him on their radar.

Joe

Thanks Clyde.
I'm curious now to find out what the label is.
I understand not wanting to post it on here.
Would you mind emailing it to me?
Thanks!

Clyde Smith

If I'm not putting somebody on blast publicly then I'm not putting them on blast with people I don't really know.

That goes for sources and off-the-record statements too. Once you start burning people, it burns you in the end.

But I understand your curiosity. I'd certainly want to know.

Grant Williams

I've sold and made cassettes, vinyl and CD. And I've been watching the rise of cassette tapes for past few years not understanding it at all. I don't see one GOOD reason for their resurgence. Please tell me one area where a cassette is preferable over all other formats.

Justin Scott Gray

I have been running a small label for a few years now. (mostly experimental stuff)... And when we started, we just focused on downloads because people really weren't interested in buying our CD's. (unless it was at a show... but I think that's because people are sentimental)

anyway, we recently started putting out tapes and I have to tell you, it's turning our label into a "real" label... we could never sustain physical formats before, but with the tapes, people are buying them and sharing the releases with like-minded individuals... we are also finally getting reviews.

same as most labels, we dream of vinyl releases. but the cost is too great and we only sell 30 copies of each releases...when we first started with the tapes, it was because they are cheap to make... but now, in a digital age, we can provide a free download with a tape purchase (people can burn CD's from that) and the album sounds different on both formats... which is really cool.

they are here to stay... and with CHROME TAPE, the resolution is great. perfect for most audiophiles. (plus they have the digital to compare)

check us out: www.amokrecordings.com

StMichael

BRAVE MYSTERIES www.bravemysteries.com
a revelation in cassette releases

George Frehner

we make cassettes for some of these labels and it's been great fun! We copy direct from hi-def files, the sound is arguably better than a 7 inch and maybe even 12 inch, and we do it in days instead of months. We're in Canada at http://www.duplication.ca

Nate H

I still don't really see the importance of cassettes or why they are coming back. It seems just like a nostalgic throwback, still. Your points seem to say, "cassettes are important because...non-mainstream people are using them now to release music".

I'd love more of an explanation. Why cassettes, other than for nostalgia? Maybe it's a way of slightly subverting the system and getting around things. But is it because it's cost effective? Sound quality is awesome? People are more willing to buy? What? I don't get what is suddenly compelling people to make their music available on a format that most people won't be able to listen to.

Clyde Smith

I'd suggest reading the comments, checking the labels, most of which offer streaming versions as well, and figure it out for yourself.

I've done as much explaining as I'm going to do and there's been plenty of dialogue on the site addressing these issues.

You might also check these posts:
http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2013/01/15-best-cassette-releases-of-2012.html

http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2013/04/cassette-subculture-continues-growth-in-2013-with-new-labels-releases-media-coverage.html

And if this is all you got from the post:
"cassettes are important because...non-mainstream people are using them now to release music"

Then consider rereading.

I don't mean to be rude but it may be one of those things you either get or you don't.

JamesBillings

Higly recommended cassette label http://bravemysteries.com/
Loads of important and high quality albums have seen their debut on cassette format!

Ben

Well and then there are releases that actually try to sound bad on purpose…but for real not 'made' with a digital filter and pressed on CD.

check these noise and weird music labels like Hospital, Econore or not not fun....

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