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.
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?