The 80s generations used to make mixtapes wherein they gathered their favourite music of a genre or artist. These mixtapes were hugely used, especially with their friends and crushes. It was a romantic and brilliant way of sharing someone's emotions with their special ones. Many of us still have those tapes, hidden somewhere in our store rooms or in a box in the basement. We would love to relive that amazing time and to feel like listening to those favourites in our unruffled way, or perhaps our younger generation also wants to experience the tangible buzz of listening to music by putting a physical object into a Cassette Player. No, youtube or any other music app can feel the same as a cassette playing with its mysteriously moving parts. If you are missing those golden days, then we have a piece of great news for you, audio Cassette is back in town. Before we investigate the reason for cassette comeback, let's first look at their origin and try to understand what made them dormant for decades. 

Origin of Cassette


The origin of the Cassette is credited to Philips Company which developed it in 1962 in Belgium. The Cassette was first released in Europe during the third quarter of 1963. A year later, it was released in the United States market. Before its release, people enjoyed the music on vinyl which was not user-friendly.

On the other hand, cassette tapes have revolutionized the music industry. With its launch, people can now record their voices and listen to their favourite music outside their homes, which was a big achievement for the people. With the launch of the walkman, the success story of the cassette comeback skyrocketed.

Suddenly all car manufacturers understood the need for the hours and devised an audio playing system for their cars. It further boosted the demand for cassette comeback in the market. Now people can enjoy their favourite songs even on the go.

How does an audio cassette work?


An audio cassette comprises parts like Tension Arm, Idler Roller, Guide, erase head, capstan, pinch roller, play head, and others. The plastic outer layers protect the magnetic tape from the outside world. The tape is covered with a magnetic material known as ferric oxide. The audios are stored on these tapes in the form of electrical impulses with the help of a tape machine. When a cassette is inserted inside the player, it converts the electromagnetic signals into audible sounds

The decline of the Cassette


But unfortunately, the peak in demand was not for a longer duration. By the early 2000s, the Cassette was replaced by compact discs or CDs. That has various advantages over the magnetic tape cassette, like better sound quality and more storage.


Reason for the decline of audio cassettes:

In the early 70s, the technical director at Philips suggested why not record music on the vinyl format with more duration. And in 1979, Philips launched the compact disc.

Compact discs not only offer better sound quality but can store several tracks, which was not possible with the Cassette. Other than this, the compact disc was more user-friendly and navigating music through them was much easier than cassettes.

The quick and affordable entertainment available on mobile phones, memory cards, and USB data further contributed to the downfall of the cassette industry. Even popular singers had stopped releasing their new songs on cassettes. Once the most popular mode of entertainment, Cassette ruled the entrainment industry for more than 30 years but as it registered a sharp decline; consequently, all major companies stopped their production.

Fun fact about Cassette's comeback

  • Originally cassettes were launched for dictation and not music.
  • In its entire life cycle, more than 3 billion copies are sold.
  • The life span of magnetic tape is around 10-30 years.
  • The famous Sony walkman was discontinued in 2010.

Pros and Cons of Cassette


They are very economical to manufacture and can achieve good sound quality. You can easily share it among your friend circle. However, a major drawback is that you will need an expensive music system to play quality music.

Cassette comeback


Today we can see that the audio Cassette is becoming popular and are making a comeback. It started to see marginal growth in 2011. The annual event Cassette Store Day, organized in mid-October, is now an international event for the United Kingdom. It is reported that around 174,000 cassettes were sold in the US alone in 2017. And according to Nielsen Music, this figure is expected to increase to 23 % by the end of 2018. Even though the sound quality of the Cassette is not so great compared to compact discs or digital audio files, these sales numbers are still showing a continuous improvement. Hence, we investigate the reason behind the increasing popularity of the Audio Cassette and cassette comeback.

Some reasons why cassettes are becoming popular


Price: When it comes to budget, everyone wants to curtail it. So does the music company for whom cassette tapes are cheaper options. No, it's not all about the music companies; even cassette tapes are cheaper for consumers. As a result, in recent years, we have seen various famous singers who have launched their albums on the compact Cassette.


Makes People feel good: Major sections of human society like doing things that make them feel good. And this is irrespective of whether it is with doing that thing or not. The same is the case with the Cassette. Although it may not be the best medium to listen to music, people still love it because it helps them live their good old movements. It helps them to feel younger and happier. This nostalgic feeling helps them to stay motivated and fills them with influential power.

Hipsters: Hipsters are people who love to bring obsolete things back into trend. They are resent in almost every sector and industry. It can be due to them that we are witnessing the comeback of the Cassette in the music industry.


Impacts of Movies: We all know that movies have great influential powers, especially regarding setting trends. Some big-budget movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, Strange Things, etc. Have prominently displayed the use of audio cassettes and has helped in its revival. Even popular artists like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber are driving the comeback by releasing their newest albums on cassette tapes. As a result, tapes are becoming more and more popular. It all has initiated a strong innovation within the sector, and companies have started manufacturing high audio quality cassettes using ferric oxide.


The physical touch and feel: One reason humans love listening to their favourite songs is the involvement of their emotions. Music can evoke powerful emotions like thrills and chills in the listeners. Even studies have shown that when we listen to the music we love, it gets supercharged. With the cassette comeback coming into the trend again, we can experience the connection with the music that has been lost due to the digital format of the music. To some, when they hold a cassette in their hand, they can connect to the lyrics of the song. That fills them with more energy and enthusiasm.


Sense of collecting cherished music: Owing a cassette is like owning the music, and as a human, we have this mentality that if we own something, then we take most care of it and try to preserve it for our coming generations. The same is true for music, where the sense of ownership is lost due to the digital platform. With the digitalization of music, its importance and sincerity are lost. People play them in the background and perform their tasks. Physical owing is necessary to respect, known as the Endowment Effect. Remember, we value what we own.

Humans are neither perfect, nor do they like their music to be perfect. If this was the case, cassettes would have never returned, as they do not produce high-quality sounds. But cassette comeback means our connection with music is not as simple as it looks.


Loss of Sale: One more reason why Cassette must be reviewed is due to the loss of potential sales. Due to online streaming, millions of files are downloaded every month. This results in great loss for the music industry as these files are shared from one person to another. To overcome this problem, music companies have already started their platform where a user can pay a fee to download the music legally. But various peer-to-peer websites provide free downloading to the users. This has now started a legal battle. The impact of this is that the singers are now getting a lower payment. This has mainly impacted the small singers. As a result, they are now transforming into audio cassettes.

Conclusion

Today we see that audio cassettes have come back after decades of hibernation. There are someartists who are now releasing their music material on cassettes, seeing the demand and love for cassettes among a large section of people. If you want to buy a blank cassette, you can get them too in the market to witness the hands-on pleasure of making mixtapes.  

Out of many reasons for Cassettes' comeback, now cassettes are ready to take us back to our 80s. Even some large companies have already started seeing the future and investing their money, but whether this rollback can overcome the present digital solution.