Cassettes Are Making a Comeback. Why?

Last week as I was preparing the first episode of my new radio program, The Secret History of Rock, I need to get some music from a cassette.  It was the legendary “Mama Son” demo tape that got Eddie Vedder the job with Pearl Jam.

I found the cassette no problem–it’s included with the super-deluxe reissue of Ten–but that’s where I the confusion began.  It was so long since I used a cassette that I’d forgotten what it was like to use a cassette player.

The cassette machine was a clunky mechanical thing.  Access was slow.  Digitizing had to be done in real time.  Levels were inconsistent.  There were wobbles.  Set next to today’s technology, cassettes are like chipping music into stone tablets.

So why are they making a comeback?  

I found this article from The Spartan Chronicle, Aura University’s online student newspaper.  It helped.  A little.

Although the second coming of vinyl brought back the idea of discovering obscure album gems, cassettes seem to be taking it a step further. Cassettes don’t pressure the user to listen through an entire album as much as vinyl does; it’s much easier to fast-forward through a cassette than it is to reposition a needle on a turntable. This allows more flexibility for listening, but still pushes users to discover songs they would otherwise be oblivious to. While the combination of both methods of listening is a likely contributor to the newfound popularity of cassettes, it may only be the tip of the iceberg.

Read the rest of the article here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “Cassettes Are Making a Comeback. Why?

  • October 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Maybe to get "cassette tape" back into the dictionary…

  • October 17, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Actually, I've never stopped listening to cassettes….

  • October 18, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Finding a spot on a cassette being easier? come on, degradation of quality with each listen and a pain in the arse format, are you kidding me? Wait till they have one of their prized tapes eaten by the machine then they'll realise theyre faffing about with an old medium which everyone was happy to see being put to rest. Analog cassette tapes are not two inch tape and should not be lauded as such.


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