Your computer and your smartphone can deliver whatever song you want to hear, whenever you want, and with a simple click. Yet despite the convenience of digital media, a growing number of music lovers are embracing the old school.
Yes, folks, cassette tapes are back in style! In fact, they have been slowly making a comeback over the past few years. British Phonographic Industry (the UK’s music trade association), estimates that cassette tape sales have doubled from 2019 to 2020, with top sellers ranging from Lady Gaga to Yungblud.
Obviously, streaming platforms still dominate the market, accounting for more than 80% of music consumption in 2020 with 139bn streams— but there are still plenty of people who collect physical media with huge stars taking advantage of the ironically old-school format.
Take, for instance, Eminem, Jack White, Taylor Swift, Jay-Z, and The Weeknd who are just a few popular artists who have all released albums on cassettes ever since sales started to make a comeback. Urban Outfitters even sells original cassettes from artists like P!nk and Billie Eilish online and now RecordingTheMasters has announced that, in conjunction with ThinkIndie Distribution, it's reissuing a series of seven albums on cassette for the first time ever.
"In addition to the album releases," reads a press release, "RecordingTheMasters will also make their B-1000 Portable Cassette Player available in the U.S. for the first time. With electronics by RecordingTheMasters’ parent company Mulann, the cassette player features a built-in speaker, built-in microphone, and direct line-in recording."
Source: Courtesy of RecordingTheMasters
It's important to note that cassette tape sales represent a tiny fraction of music sales this year. Overall, the sales of vinyl and CDs still drastically outweigh cassettes. For example, vinyl records sold in the millions last year, whereas cassettes are selling in the hundreds of thousands range.
What is surprising, however, is that the top 10 best-selling vinyl records of 2020 were all classic albums from decades past (Fleetwood Mac, Amy Winehouse, and Nirvana, to name a few). However, the top-selling albums on cassette format were all released in 2020 releases from artists such as Blackpink, and Selena Gomez.
The vinyl revolution of recent years was partly fueled by people looking for something different from digital downloads and online streaming. Cassettes are no different with consumers drawn to them for similar reasons:
The physical “touch and feel” and sense of collecting cherished music.
The unique analog sound.
The limited-edition pressings.
Here’s a list of ten of the best-selling cassette albums for 2020.
1. Lady Gaga - Chromatica
2. 5 Seconds Of Summer - Calm
3. Yungblud - Weird
4. The 1975 - Notes On A Conditional Form
5. Blackpink - The Album
6. Selena Gomez - Rare
7. Kylie Minogue - Disco
8. Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia
9. Haim - Women In Music Pt III
10. The Streets - None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive