Cassette Subculture Continues Growth in 2013 With New Labels, Releases & Media Coverage

Jonwayne-cassetteBeneath the surveillance of SoundScan and the Official Charts Company and beyond the grasp of those who know of avant-gardes only from schoolbooks and museum tours, the cassette subculture continues to build without need of outside approval. In order to get a sense of recent developments, I gathered a number of news items from the first quarter of 2013 featuring recently launched labels, a handful of new releases and "cassettes are making a comeback" coverage from scattered locales.

For those still wondering why anyone would release music on cassette, key points of discussion focus on the ability to put out a very limited run of physical releases for a small price with quick turnaround. Tangibility and unique art, which are now commonly accepted explanations for resurgence of vinyl, seem to be important elements. Multiple commenters on this post had interesting things to say about sound quality.

The importance of having a space for musical experimentation is clearly a factor as well though, since my initial introduction via noise and drone labels, I'm finding that the phenomenon crosses genres.

Note: Cassette labels often put out simultaneous digital editions and many release vinyl and even CDs.

The following news item offer one way of getting a sense of the breadth and depth of activity based largely on what Google's algorithms chose to reveal. They should in no way be taken as exhaustive.

2013 Cassette Label & Series Launches

Blackest Ever Black launch Krokodilo Tapes ft. London's Blackest Ever Black

SVBKVLT Beat Tapes ft. Sub-Culture Shanghai's new cassette series

GNOD launch cassette Label 'Tesla Tapes' ft. Tesla Tapes of Salford, England

Fallow Records Launches With Cassettes By Be Honest And JG/BC ft. Fallow Field of Dublin, Ireland

Cassette Labels That Launched in 2012

Local musician turns record label fantasy into reality ft. Doctor Gone Records of Carolina Beach, NC

Boston Startup Record Label Releases First Album on Cassette and 16 Hiphop Producers Featured on Boston Cassette Label's Love-Themed Compilation Tape from Boston's HEY WTF Records

A Handful of New Releases on Cassette

Hear Mirror Universe's 19-Band, Two-Cassette 'Whatever It Is You're Doing Now' from Mirror Universe Tapes of Charleston, SC

The Movies – "In One Era, Out the Other" from Spring Break Tapes of Los Angeles

Philip Morris smacks Stones Throw over Jonwayne Cassette. Jonwayne releases Cassette 2. ft. LA's Stones Throw Records

ST x LR: DUAL FORM from Stones Throw and LA's Leaving Records whose releases Stones Throw is now distributing

Tape it or leave it: Considering the cassette release ft. Chicagoan Whitney Johnson's latest Matchess release

Label spotlight: Flesh Wave (New Timmy Vulgar tape of rarities) ft. Detroit's Flesh Wave

Media Coverage ft. Cassette Labels

Going analogue: Cassette tapes making comeback in Ottawa’s underground ft. Canada's Bruised Tongue

Cassette Tape Comeback ft. Already Dead Tapes with partners in Kalamazoo, MI and Chicago

Rewind: Cassettes are back in vogue — at least for some ft. Analogue Media of Nuns' Island, Quebec whose services include cassette duplication

Cassette Label Tricot Records Builds a Microscene in College Park ft. Tricot Records of College Park, Maryland

Industry Opinion: Cassette Tapes Are Back ft. London's Heart Throb Records

Constellation Tatsu micro-label's cassette and VHS releases ft. Constellation Tatsu of San Luis Obispo, CA

DiggUp Tapes issues its music on cassette, and that's no joke ft. Raleigh, NC's DiggUp Tapes

Building a bigger Burger Records at the Burgerama festival ft. Burger Records of Fullerton, CA

i started a cassette label for 150 dollars ft. Austin's Minner Bucket Records

The Reel World: Holy Page ft. Holy Page Records of Phoenix

The Reel World: DZ Tapes ft. DZ Tapes of Washington, DC

[Thumbnail image of Jonwayne's Cassette 2 cassette-only release on Stones Throw.]


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at All World Dance: Videos and maintains Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. Still waiting on one GOOD reason for this trend. I’ve been asking since 2009 and haven’t heard one yet.

  2. Not a chance it has a longer shell-life than a CD. I know because I have manufactured both. It is typically cheaper than vinyl and a much poorer format than both.

  3. It is more durable than a CD, typically making it last longer. The option for custom art (physically painting the cassette and numbering) without it looking stupid is something you don’t get with a CD. The potential for theft and mass production is lowered since it is not something you can toss into a laptop. Recording straight to cassette is also an option, which allows artists to bypass the 1’s and 0’s. No mastering, no waiting, no computer crashing. Also, CD’s are culturally seen as inexpensive/cheap and something that should be obtained for free. However, neither CD or cassette formats care whether you like them or not, so there’s that. Some people like cassettes. Stop hating, nobody said you had to buy them.

  4. I disagree with every last thing you have written and unless you are under 25 years old the idea of a CD seeming cheap but not a cassette is silly. Why is it that no one liked cassettes 10 years ago? I currently have over 1500 cassettes but I certainly don’t intend to purchase anymore.

  5. You’re coming across as so single minded right now. Have you never stopped to consider some people actually enjoy this as a format? I didn’t think so. Stop being such a whiney bitch, it’s 2013 man – people can do whatever they want.

  6. You’re coming across as so single minded right now. Have you never stopped to consider some people actually enjoy this as a format? I didn’t think so. Stop being such a whiney bitch, it’s 2013 man – people can do whatever they want.

  7. I sure hope they do a fucking ass-kicking comeback, I’ve been waiting a lot of time for this, due to here in Chile this fuckers don’t produce cassettes anymore so it could be sweet as a my little pony’s pussy.

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