Following the vinyl revival – the renewed interest in, and increased sales of, vinyl records – of the last decade, there has also been a lesser known and smaller-scale compact cassette revival, internationally and in Australia.
Since 2010, several Australian cassette-focused music labels have released some of the country’s most exciting and experimental music. These labels include Healthy Tapes, Habitat Tapes, Happy Endin, This Thing, Moontown Records, Rice Is Nice and Comfort 35.
While these labels are producing digital releases, they are accompanied by limited-edition collectible cassettes. The cassettes are often the only physical media released, sometimes in runs as low as 30 tapes.
As with the vinyl revival spawning events such as Record Store Day, which sprang out of the USA in 2007, Cassette Store Day started in 2013 in the UK, and is celebrated annually to recognise the value of cassettes as a music format.
Despite this revived interest and increasing sales, the cassette market represents less than 1% of world sales, a far cry from their height in the mid-1980s when they represented 54% of the global market.
I recently spoke with Comfort 35 label owner and musician Tom Martin about contemporary cassette culture.