Those of us old enough will fondly remember buying their favourite hit recordings in cassette tape format, a smaller, more fashionable leap from the old vinyl records. The cassette had a shortlived life due to the rapid launch of newer formats such as the CD, the minidisc and of course, digital downloads. Hitting the record stores in the early 1970s, the tape had all but died a death by the millennium. Fast forward to today and most of the younger music buying market would look at a tape with a confused grin. Statistics would suggest that this is all about to change.
According to the UK’s Official Chart Company, over 65,000 cassette tapes have been sold in the first six months of 2020 alone. They state that this is double the figure during the same period of 2019.
Australian pop group, 5 Seconds of Summer managed to sell 12,000 cassettes within the first week of releasing their new album ‘Calm’. An impressive feat giving the fact that so few people own a tape deck, walkman or have a tape player in their car. However, when you compare these sales figures against Scottish songwriter Lewis Capaldi, just one of his songs ‘Someone You Loved’ was streamed online 114 million times in the same period.
Professional music analyst, Mark Mulligan of Midia Research suggests that the cassette tape was never likely to sell as much.
Mulligan stated, “Cassettes have always been an inferior product in terms of audio quality,”.
“The thing [cassettes tapes and vinyl records] have in common is that they are memorabilia. It’s almost like a gaping hole in the modern music business. Rather than sitting on display on your shelves, your music sits ephemerally in a cloud somewhere”.
Gennaro Castaldo from the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) hinted that we may see music cassette tape sales reaching over the 100,000 mark, the highest since 2003.
So whilst tape sales are on the increase, it could be assumed that the majority of buyers are simply purchasing cassettes as memorabilia, whilst listening to the same tracks online in higher quality and without the needed purchase of a tape player.