Collectible Cassettes? Really?

Believe it or not.

Like vinyl, the pre-recorded cassette just won’t die.  In fact, there are places in the world—like India and Indonesia—where you can still walk into a music store and buy albums on cassette. A couple of years ago, I walked into a shop in Ubud, Bali, and the place was filled with pre-recorded cassettes.  And not just old titles, either.  Recent releases.

Then there are these hipster labels that keep popping up in the US and the UK that only distribute music on cassette. I don’t get that, given that I haven’t hooked up any of my cassette machines for years.

And now it’s becoming somewhat fashionable to collect rare pre-recorded cassettes.  They don’t trade for as much as rare vinyl—far from it—but we’re starting to see values creep up towards the $100 range. 

What makes a cassette collectible?  Well, it’s early, but in terms of tapes that were sold on the open market, punk from 1979 to 1983 is pretty hot.  But if we’re talking demos from big bands like Nine Inch Nails or Oasis—both of which have turned up recently on eBay and on collectors’ sites—you’re looking at hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

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.

9 thoughts on “Collectible Cassettes? Really?

  • December 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm
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    Maybe it's time to unload all my original cassettes by The Fall from the early 80s then.

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  • December 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm
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    i have nevermind by nirvana- don't think its even been opened

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  • December 7, 2011 at 5:50 pm
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    We release all of our stuff on cassette. It's inexpensive, DIY fun and we can take more risks musically and make less compromising stuff because we aren't looking at a huge loss if it doesn't sell.

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  • December 7, 2011 at 7:35 pm
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    Cassettes are semi huge now in the indie underground. Go into any hip store and you will see 100 new releases from the past year. Cassette-only labels are thriving. These guys Burger Records are doing pressings of a thousand cassettes and doing repressings. Mind blowing. I think they are cool for teens and twenty somethings now who aren't tired yet of how shitty they sound . Admittedly you can go to thrift stores and get 4 cassettes for a dollar and build a collection cheaply. Cassettes sound better than MP3s or streaming arguably too. Wait for the CD revival in 10 years, it's a lock to happen.

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  • December 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm
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    Collectible? I still use them…

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  • December 8, 2011 at 1:20 am
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    Cassettes sound better that MP3s?

    …SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS…

    Nonsense.

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  • December 8, 2011 at 2:05 am
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    I can see DJ mixtapes becoming much sought-after items. I think I even have an old 'DJ Max' tape somewhere with a hand-scribbled label (before he became "Max Graham") and I wouldn't mind listening to an old Richie Hawtin or even an A-Trak mixtape. There must be a few out there.

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  • December 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm
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    Cassettes are wildly different depending on the tape itself and the playback unit. Are they shitty? Yep. MP3s – brutally compressed and tinny sounding, "arguably" worse than cassettes. Vinyl, best sound, if you can accept the occasional pop and crackle, also requires good stereo system. CDs – nice sound, shitty package, overpriced for so many years that people somehow think MP3s are better now in spite.

    Reply

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