No one ever thought that it would happen, but cassette tapes are making a slow and subtle comeback. A whole army of young music consumers really have discovered the format and are enamored with it for different reasons. Some listeners just like the analog sound they provide, others like them because they want to own their music and cassettes are inexpensive, and bands like them because they can turn around a low-cost release to sell at gigs in no time flat. Thus we have the trend known as “Cassette Culture.”
As a result, there’s a number of cassette-only labels that have sprung up (Sanity Muffin, United Cassettes, Burger Records and Lost Sound Tapes are just a few). In fact, the National Audio Company (which is now the largest cassette tape manufacturer in the U.S.) last year saw a 20% increase in its commercial tape duplication business, and actually did its most business since the factory opened in 1969.
Understand that this trend is being driven by young millennial buyers, and not oldsters steeped in nostalgia.
While most people think the cassette is a symbol for inferior quality, I know differently from my experience with tape duplicators. Years ago before the CD caught on, I would take one of my classes to visit a vinyl pressing plant that also was into large-scale cassette duplication. They would randomly pull a piece off the line then take it into the QC room for a playback, and it always sounded wonderful! Granted, the playback system featured a finely tuned cassette machine (the real key to good sound), but it showed just what the audio capabilities of the format could be like. Sadly, the majority of users have never had a similar experience.
Below is a great video about some of the myths of cassettes and more on the current trend.