First LPs and record players made a comeback – now the cassette tape is rewinding back into our lives.
Music fans on both sides of the Atlantic are returning to the cassette two decades after they were replaced by the CD, and more recently digital downloads.
This nostalgia for the old format comes despite the frustrations that led to their decline, including their tendency to become scrambled and jammed in players.
Sales of music tapes are rising so quickly in the US that the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade body for music labels which also certifies gold and platinum records, is investigating ways to track sales for the first time since the early 1990s.
It is thought the revival was started by underground music acts.
But now, more mainstream musicians have started producing albums on cassette again.
British singer Marina and the Diamonds released her last album, Froot, on cassette late last year.
Albums from top US stars are also available on cassette, including Justin Bieber’s latest release, Purpose, and Kanye West’s Yeezus.
They are being sold at fashion chains such as Urban Outfitters, as well as being available online.
Meanwhile Hypnohouse Trax, a British dance music label, has put out a collection of its own on tape.
Sales of cassettes in the UK could follow the path of vinyl record sales – which fell to a low of just over 205,000 in 2007, but have grown every year since and hit a 20-year high of 2.1million in 2015.
AND FAX IS ON THE WAY BACK TOO!
It seems the fax machine could return to offices because it is deemed a more secure way to send sensitive messages in the age of the internet.
The boss of Sony Pictures who was left highly embarrassed after a cyber attack leaked millions of compromising company emails has reverted to using a fax.
Michael Lynton writes messages by hand and then sends them by fax.
They cannot be targeted by hackers because messages are sent via telephone lines meaning information can only be obtained by tapping the right line.
Among the leaked Sony emails was one branding actress Angelina Jolie a ‘minimally talented spoilt brat’ with a ‘rampaging ego’.
The Oxford English Dictionary dropped ‘cassette player’ from its concise edition in 2011. It now seems this may have been premature.
And Sony stopped producing its iconic Walkman portable cassette player in 2010, although other brands, such as Philips, still make them.
Lee Rickard, 32, co-founder of independent record label Burger Records, which is based in Orange County, a suburb of Los Angeles, explained the appeal, saying: ‘Music just sounds different on tape, sometimes as it was originally intended to sound.
‘Cassettes are compact, tangible, instant collectables, often with original and numbered artwork — and as cheap as a cup of coffee, so you can support your local artist without buyer’s remorse.
‘We worked with Green Day to produce a cassette version of their Dookie album, but most of the acts are young and unknown — for now.’
Burger Records has plans to release its own Burger Buddy, which will play tapes as well as convert them to computer-readable MP3 files.