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The Popularity of Music Cassette Tapes

I am a lifelong music fan and musician, and also enjoy raising analog awareness and promoting the culture.

Those Ugly Brown Boxes

We have all been there—either setting up our spring/fall tag sale or just clearing up the junk for, well, a place to store new junk. Those ugly brown boxes that hold a key or window to a past life or memory, a story behind an item, waiting to be remembered with beloved family members. Or perhaps it's just an ugly old sweater that has cleverly eluded the trash can all these years.

Or you may stumble across an ugly brown box of cassette tapes. You open said box, and there they are. Tapes upon tapes which you're then-teenage son or daughter spent countless hours blaring these now relics into the cortex of your very existence.

That Neighborhood Guy With the Record Player Strapped to His Back Was Annoying

The first portable on the go music device? The mighty Mp3 player? Wrong!! It was the cassette playing Walkman. Never before was music available on a mobile platform, apart from the neighborhood freak who tied a record player to his back.

And the masses responded. Big time. Not only were there now an automobile option but now we could walk, skate, bike or whatever mobile means of transport that our little hearts desired, music was there.

Death of the Mighty Cassette

Digital music products began flooding the market as early as the mid-80's. Key selling points for compact disc digital media were:

  • Continual playback (no rewinding or fast forward needed)
  • A virtually indestructible disk

In the early 2000's the cassette was phased out by the big music companies.

Anatomy of a Cassette Tape

Flash Forward to the Revival

The collector segment of cassettes is now strong. Artists and labels are hard at work, constantly putting out a new product. While record producing plants are backed up at will trying to keep up demand with orders, cassette production still remains a viable and practical way to get your music out as an aspiring artist, and as a vehicle for bigger acts to do special edition runs on different colors and special features.

Cassettes Are Now Relevant

Along with the newfound popularity of the cassette, so are the places coming forth to share the fun. Facebook now boasts of numerous groups where people buy, sell or trade and show off their cassette tapes. Members use a pay pal account to buy and sell and use tracking on the shipping to further secure their transactions. Members use eBay sold listings to further help with pricing.

Discogs is another site where cassettes along with records are also bought and sold. Users also use Discogs to set the pricing on their products. Users also use a site called Dead Format to compile lists for trade and sale.

Pump up the Volume

In the world of compressed and watered down Mp3 formats, analog cassettes and records produce a warmer, more natural fuller sound. You don't have to have a gifted musical ear to hear deeper mid-range and bass tones booming through the speakers.

Tips for Selling Cassettes

Ok—so we have found our ugly brown box and now I will give some tips on selling these cassette relics.

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  • Always play test cassettes to make sure they operate properly
  • When on eBay price slightly lower to attract more bid activity
  • Make sure the sleeve or insert card is intact and in decent shape
  • Use eBay and Discogs sold listings to set prices

Show Me The Money

Demo cassettes from well-known artists can really fetch a high premium on secondary market sites like eBay and Discogs. In many cases, these are made by the bands and were used to market their product. They many times feature different versions and recordings of songs.

These can be once-in-a-lifetime finds for the hardcore collector. Once again, with any industry such as this one must be very careful to not buy a fake or fraudulent item. Do your homework and know what you are looking at.

You Can Still Have the Music

Selling your cassettes does not mean saying goodbye forever. You can get a dual cassette deck pretty cheap at any thrift store or Salvation Army center, or a good old fashion tag sale and dub those tapes on some blank cassettes. Also, computer programs are available to import your tapes into a digital media file. Enjoy!

Do Cassettes Interest You?

© 2015 The Write Life


Zia Uddin from UK on November 29, 2018:

I grew up listening to music on cassettes on my alba stereo player. I still have plenty old cassettes lying around at home including my sony walkman, it still works after 20 years. The thought of selling them never crossed my mind because I feel bad letting them go or even chucking them in the bin.

The cassette audio, especially the TDK brand, had more bass frequency than cds or mp3. I remember blasting my car system lol.

charlie on March 20, 2016:

great read!

The Write Life (author) from The United States on January 25, 2016:

Thank you for the interest!

Janis Leslie Evans from Washington, DC on January 25, 2016:

Informative and timely as I have dozens, hubby has hundreds of cassettes. I need to clean them out. Good to know there's a resurgence of interest that could help. Interesting and well-done.

Kendra Dobson on January 08, 2016:

Retro! ;-p Great Hub!

The Write Life (author) from The United States on December 18, 2015:

Ha ha good luck!!

Kate Swanson from Sydney on December 16, 2015:

I am amazed that cassettes are making a comeback! I'll have to apologise to my husband, who has held on to his boxes and boxes of cassettes when I thought it was time to chuck them out. eBay here we come!

The Write Life (author) from The United States on December 16, 2015:

Thank you for the read. Vinyl records are also seeing quite a spike in popularity as well. Have fun exploring those boxes!

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on December 16, 2015:

Great hub. Thanks for the advice on where to buy and sell cassettes and records. I have about 100 of each. I didn't realise there was a resurgence happening.

Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on December 12, 2015:

I've transferred the music from my old LPs and cassettes to mp3 so I can just pull songs up on the computer. But I noticed while doing some of the transfers, especially of LPs, that there was something special about the sound. I've never been quite sure whether that ambiance was real, or just the result of nostalgic feeling for the days when I was building my LP collection, but it's definitely there.

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