FARGO (WDAY) — As this digital era grows, music CD sales are still plummeting. But oddly enough, cassette tape sales are seeing a surge. Vinyl records sales have been on the rise for a while. We sat down with experts to ask why cassette tapes are now drawing in a bigger crowd.
In an age where digital is king some music fans still cling to the past. “Nobody is a digital human. We’re analog humans and we want to listen to it the way that we normally interpret things,” says Vinyl Giant co-owner Aaron Swinkles. Over the last ten years, demand for vinyl has gone up considerably for its nostalgia, and the quality of the sound. Now, cassette tapes are also seeing an unusual comeback. Forbes estimates that in 2018, sales for tapes went up by almost 19%.
Vinyl Giant in downtown Fargo only sold records when it opened roughly four years ago. Because of demand, Aaron Swinkles added cassette tapes to shelves last year. Hundreds more sit in the back. :”I have to restock that several times a week because people are just coming in, cleaning tapes out of it,” says Swinkles.
Swinkles saw vinyl explode in popularity one decade ago. It’s when more music aficionados wanted a higher quality sound than CD’s. He says cassettes do not sound better than CD’s. But he still doesn’t consider this tape sale increase unusual. “It’s who we are. We are this sum culmination of our memories. As we age, we want to revisit those memories,” he says.
He believes nostalgia is what’s driving up demand. Some buyers say, there’s logistical reasons too. “I have a cassette player in my car,” says Fargo man Wyatt Amundson. But like any old thing with moving parts, cassettes have durability problems. There’s this familiar tangled mess many of us are familiar with. If they’re not properly cared for, even worse things can happen.
“As it gets old, the glue can go away and it can delaminate and then literally can just turn to dust,” Swinkles says. It’s part of the reason for their cheap price tag, typically $3 to $8. He says low costs are another thing that attracts music lovers. We even have local bands, right here in Fargo, that sell their new music on cassettes in addition to digital formats.
“A lot of millennials and Gen Z people find vintage items intriguing,” Wyatt says. As long people keep buying them, these stores will keep selling them. “It still blows my mind that people want this that much,” he says.
In the non-physical realm, music streaming went up by about 41.8% in 2018, according to The Verge. They say streaming accounts for about three quarters of the music industry’s revenue.