Cassette tapes making a comeback

Tape cassettes, once seen as an outdated musical format, are returning to the music scene.

Bands, music lovers embracing '80s throwback

Cassette tapes like these are making a comeback across the country with some music fans. (PhotoGraphyca/Shutterstock)

Don't call it a comeback — or maybe we should.

Tape cassettes, once seen as an outdated musical format, are returning to the music scene. 

It's just another unique way to put out music.- Scott Gowen, owner of Beaumont Film & Records

More and more bands are turning to cassettes as a cheap, inventive way to get their music into the hands of fans.

Saskatoon-based band Close Talker just released its latest EP, Slow Weather, on tape. 

"It's easier to give somebody a physical copy of the show, instead of just a digital download," drummer Chris Morien said. "If I throw it on my computer, I might not take the same amount of time I would as if I was putting it on a cassette or vinyl. It's a little bit more of an experience when you're listening to the music."

Record store owners are noticing a rise in business as well. These days, Saskatoon's Beaumont Film & Records prominently displays rows of brand new cassettes at the front of the store.  

"I think local bands are doing it because it's a fun way of putting something out physical," store owner Scott Gowen said. "It's cheaper than vinyl. It's just another unique way to put out music."

Old school

Although they're making a comeback, it still isn't common to see tape cassettes in stores anymore. So, how difficult is it for bands to source tapes for recording?

Cassettes on display at Beaumont Film & Record in Saskatoon. (Chris Bridge/CBC)
Veteran sales rep Jerry Fielden said that's not an issue.

He said companies in Asia are still churning out plastic cassette cases. He said it's also fairly easy to find rolls of good quality 'tape' left over from the '80s.

Sound aficionados may grumble at the limitations of cassettes, however Fielden said there are problems with compact discs as well.

"It's really apples and oranges," he said. "You could argue that each have their own qualities."

It's an open question as to whether this is a nostalgia-fueled fad, or something that's a little more sustainable.

Record store owner Scott Gowan hopes cassettes will be around for years to come.

"Who can say?" he said. "It might all be digitized in five years, but I hope not, because I'm not a fan [of digital]."


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