Rewind to the future: cassettes could be the new vinyl
Any music fan will be aware of how vinyl records have become strangely fashionable again, with the retro format enjoying a resurgence as an alternative mp3 downloads and streaming.
But now it seems that its counterpart, the cassette, may been enjoying a similar resurgence.
According to Official Charts Company data, the humble tape is the fastest-growing format in the UK at the moment.
Sales of cassette albums have doubled in the space of a year - up 112% compared to 2016, thanks in part to big name acts like Jay Z , Royal Blood and Lana Del Rey releasing limited runs as a collector’s item for fans.
The biggest seller so far has been the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy - ‘Awesone Mix vol. 1’ - the retro collection featuring tracks such as ELO’s ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ and Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’. It has also sold more than 70,000 copies on vinyl.
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More than 80 albums have been released on cassette already this year, leading to over 20,000 sales to date.
That’s the highest annual total since 2006, bucking a trend which saw an all-time low (of less than 4,000 units sold) in 2012.
The best-selling non-compilation cassette so far this year is Kasabian’s album For Crying Out Loud, with 1,026 sales to date. It’s a small but not insignificant figure, given its limited run and exclusive availability on the band’s official website.
“That’s the best thing I’ve ever heard,” Serge Pizzorno told OfficialCharts.com, adding: “It’s about fan loyalty, I think. It’s about having a physical object. One of your favourite bands has put out an album and you want it on a different format that you can hold in your hands. It’s nice to see the sleeve and the artwork in a different way as well.”
Other releases whose cassette versions re selling well include albums by Enter Shikari, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, Arcade Fire, Gary Numan and Blondie.
However, cassettes will have some way to go before they get back to their status as top-selling format, 27 years ago - long before CDs, and the internet, had taken hold. Still, with vinyl’s rebirth, and with Christmas coming up, who knows?