30 Years Of Music Industry Change


via Digital Music News

Checkout the individual images and a higher res of the above gif HERE

Cassette Tapes Are Almost Cool Again

[via Motherboard]

Tapes are due for a midlife crisis. Invented in 1963 by Lou Ottens and later introduced at the Funkausstellung radio exhibition in Berlin, compact cassettes would go on to become the most prevalent form of prerecorded music from 1983, when they began outselling records, until 1991, when the CD became the most popular medium.

Tapes were undeniably an iconic part of music culture for several decades during the height of physical musical sales and distribution. And as the technology turns 50 this month, is anyone paying attention?

When it comes to romance, music critic Rob Sheffield writes in Love Is A Mixtape, cassettes “wipe the floor with MP3s.” This is about neither superstition nor nostalgia, he adds.

Sheffield, 47, came of age in the heyday of the cassette and likely harbors an affinity for hiss-filled tapes that I, and others my age (I’m 21), can’t relate to.  Sure, I had a cassette player once. I was five, and my dad would load the thing with Stevie Ray Vaughan recordings. But by second grade I’d moved on to better and slicker things, namely Blink-182 CDs picked up at my local Newbury Comics. From then on, I never used that Sony cassette player again.

Still, that player and those tapes were both lightweight and portable, something skipping, scratched-up CDs didn’t compete with well. This low profile and their ease of use made them a cost-effective distribution medium for labels and hopeful bands trying to get A&R love, as well as a chance for DIY home recording and music swaps among audiophiles and young lovers alike.

We’re all familiar with the well-worn trope of using a blank cassette to record radio bootlegs and make mixtapes for loved ones, an act that coerced the British Phonographic Industry to make the 1980s slogan “The Home Tape is Killing Music.”

I have been an active mixtape maker and music gifter my whole life. Every girl I’ve had feelings for has received a playlist with a little bit of mushy indie rock with a hint of gangster rap to cut the sappiness. I’ve used CDs, Dropbox and more to send these mixes, but tapes never have made the cut out of fear that the chosen lady would not have any means to play a tape. Even now, as a handful of my friends work at labels and music companies, I have convinced myself that the cassette tape is too niche to present as a gift. Can they ever make a comeback?


The cassette isn’t quite shaking physical music these days, and it isn’t enjoying the same sort of renaissance as vinyl, which has seen a 33.5 percent increase in sales in the first half of 2013 alone. But there is undoubtedly public interest in the format today, spurred by new tape labels popping up, a phenomenon Marc Hogan wrote about in a 2010 Pitchfork feature. Our colleagues at Noisey have said there’s a “resurgence” of tapes, even if most folks have yet to see it.

In September, there will be the first Cassette Store Day (an interesting title, seeing as there are few stores that just handle cassettes), which will include concerts and limited edition releases and reissues from bands like Fucked Up, Deerhunter and The Flaming Lips, as well as labels like California’s Burger Records, Night People, Domino and my personal favorite 4AD.

At the turn of the millennium, there were still over 70 million cassette tapes shipped throughout the US.

The organizers’ website claims that the cassette is “no longer the inadequate, younger sibling of vinyl and CD,” and that it is “still going strong in the turbulent current musical climate.” This may be true for die-hard music fans (who some may refer to as elitists), but sales and press coverage beg to differ.

Perhaps because they’re pretty much nonexistent in the world of major labels and larger retailers, it’s rather difficult to find out just how many cassettes are moving off the shelves. The Nielsen music industry report doesn’t even give the cassette its own sales category. The analytics company lumps the format into a section called "Total Album Sales" that includes CDs, vinyl and digital album downloads. 

According to NME, only 604 official units were sold in the UK last year (three times as many sales as the previous year), but most of the sales were of a single by British outfit Feeder. Good luck determining how many tapes niche labels like The Trilogy Tapes or Opal Tapes sold, as the plastic devices will surely continue to be ignored by Nielsen.

Digital Music News recently made a chart that tracks the decline of cassette sales, using shipment data from the RIAA. At the turn of the millennium, there were still over 70 million cassette tapes shipped throughout the US, while the site claims that number is essentially zero today. Based on DMN’s data, the cassette appears about as widespread as the irrelevant MiniDisc, which had just under 300 purchases in 2012.


Image via Digital Music News

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A Short Film About Cassettes.

via Noisey

Though the advent of CD and MP3 inevitably replaced its significance, the last few years have seen the cassette tape make an unexpected comeback. In the first of three short films, ‘You Need To Hear This’ celebrate its invention by meeting up with Jen Long, founder of cassette-only record label Kissability, and Brian Shimkovitz, DJ and founder of blog Awesome Tapes from Africa, to explore what drives their enduring love for the cassette tape.

pic at top via Strictly Cassette

And Now For Something Completely Different


German producer Dexter (not to be confused with everybody’s fave TV serial killer) has put together a great little psychedelic breaks mix that you can download for free over at the Melting Pot Music soundcloud page… BUT if you want to know the tunes that he has included on this hour long mix you’re going to have to buy the cassette tape which is limited to 200 copies so act fast or die wondering as to what all the nuggets are!

If pysch-rock business is your thang don’t forget to check out our Cool Accidents store for all our Nuggets themed stuff, including pre-orders for some limited edition vinyl releases

We’ve started an instagram account over at @coolaccidents #latepass

We’ve started an instagram account over at @coolaccidents #latepass

Friend of the family Mark Drew does it again. C90 Forever.

Friend of the family Mark Drew does it again. C90 Forever.

February 14, a date on the calendar you either look forward to or dread…

Ahhhh to be in love! The birds are singing, the butterflies are in your stomach and there’s not a trouble in sight.

But let’s be honest, sometimes (OK lots of times) that love stuff doesn’t go to plan and it’s not all roses, chocolates and Hallmark cards. So keeping this in mind, Cool Accidents have got everyone covered this Valentine’s Day no matter what your Facebook relationship status tells us.

With the help of Everyone’s Mixtape and Mark Drew we’ve put together a website where you can create a customized playlist to send to that special/terrible someone in your life. It’s pretty simple, just log in, give your tape a name, choose your music from Youtube, Soundcloud or Vimeo and send it to that person you love to love or love to hate.

Now… If only love was that easy. Click HERE to get started!

Be Kind Rewind and Pledge

"What is it about the cassette that won’t die? It is obsolete, clunky, it’s sound is unpolished, atmospheric and flat but the blank cassette enticed us with it’s possibilities and it was portable so we could take it anywhere, record anything and maybe it’s because of this freedom or maybe because of nostalgia but the cassette has quietly begun it’s comeback"

In case you don’t know, we’re big fans of cassettes here at Cool Accidents (have you seen our logo?) and we just stumbled on a project that we really want to see get up and running over at

A couple of New York filmmakers have set about making a film about cassettes and they need your help (yes you… we just did our good deed!)

Here’s the scoop via the guys themselves -

A few months ago, the term cassette tape was taken out of the Oxford English Dictionary.

It may seem ironic, then, that the cassette has experienced a quiet comeback over the last few years, as independent labels issuing tape-only releases have begun popping up around the world.

What better excuse to take a look back at this beloved musical format?

As recorded sound continues its love affair with the downloadable, ethereal digital file, the tangible artefact is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

Help us celebrate the A Side, the B Side, the mixtape, and the whole of cassette culture by supporting Cassette: A Documentary. We’ll look at all parts of popular culture influenced by the cassette, including hip-hop and B-Boy culture, indie rock, home recording, and beyond.

We’ve already conducted a number of interviews in the UK, and with your support we’ll be able to speak to manufacturers, musicians, and historians around the world. Along the way, we’ll stop in Zimbabwe to cover the recent boom in cassette culture there.

Support the guys by heading over to their Kick Starter page HERE and don’t be shy, any donation is appreciated and time is of the essence!

Click on the above pie chart to see how music consumption has changed over the years.

Click on the above pie chart to see how music consumption has changed over the years.

via spill-label

Bruce Milne and Andrew Maine’s Fast Forward cassette magazine documented the post-punk scene of the early 80s. The tapes interspersed interviews with music and were packaged with printed artwork in a soft case and distributed through record shops. In that pre-internet era Fast Forward helped spread sounds and ideas among music communities. Archived it offers a valuable resource for people interested in post-punk - Greg Wadley

If anything reflects the ebullience of the ‘underground’ in this era it is Fast Forward, a bi-monthly magazine on audio cassette edited by Bruce Milne and Andrew Maine alongside designer Michael Trudgeon. Fast Forward ran to13 issues between November 1980 and October 1982,[i] one of those innovations that was almost too simply brilliant for anyone to believe it hadn’t been done before - and there was discussion at the time about a forerunner, Bill Furlong’s Audio Arts.[ii] Maine and Milne were RRR presenters who had access to material via radio and Milne’s Au Go Go/Missing Link connections, as well as the mere fact they were known about town. They had planned a magazine with a flexidisc, until they heard that EMI’s standard procedure for unsold pre-recorded cassettes was to bulk erase them and sell them on. The early Fast Forwards had new labels stuck over reused pre-recorded cassettes, and the temporary or makeshift nature of them was part of the appeal. Milne told Rolling Stone’s Andrea Jones in 1981 that ‘I don’t see the music we put down on those tapes as being a permanent document like a record. We hope that people will hear the tape and then go out and see the bands.’[iii]

For a few weeks in the early 1980s the world saw a cassette magazine explosion - the British pop magazine Mix, and the Pacific north west’s Sub Pop which alternated cassette and print editions, for instance, and which later became the famous record label. Meanwhile, in the Pacific south east, Maine and Milne were producing what was effectively a purchasable radio show (not a ‘compilation album’ as some have termed it;[iv] interviews and other spoken word material were integral to the content) in packaging which began with a simple one-piece ‘cover’ in a plastic bag to a silkscreened wallet with various leaflets and booklets in its various pockets. Trudgeon explained that normally a ‘cassette is usually a small, miserably packaged object that has no intrinsic qualities.’[v] The most ambitious Fast Forward was probably the double-issue; two ninety-minute cassettes and extra print material. The music on the various Fast Forwards was largely of its time and more often than not, marvelous; no doubt many casual purchasers around the world were first exposed to live music from the Laughing Clowns, the Go-Betweens’ demos for Send me a lullabye, Rowland Howard’s ‘Shivers’ as performed by The Young Charlatans, Pel Mel’s ‘No Word from China’ recorded as a ‘demo’ and launching the Newcastle group on a two-album near-mainstream career and much more via this miraculous, modern periodical. As Jon Stratton has demonstrated, Fast Forward was not - unlike, for instance, Mark Dodgson’s Big Back Yard show, distributed to non-profit radio around the world in the late 80s - based on a notion of ‘Australian music to the world’. It was not exclusively local, and would feature music from anywhere, the prime criteria being the editors’ taste, and the proviso that it had not (yet) been released on vinyl. Maine and Milne ultimately fell out: Maine alone went on to relaunch Fast Forward as the disastrous, trendy Crowd, a magazine-with-cassette which became print-only with its second issue and disappeared after the third.

- David Nichols

[i] Paul McHenry and Chris Spencer The Australian Various Artist on Cassette 1978-96 Golden Square, Moonlight 1996 pp.19-23

[ii] Tyrone Flex, ‘C-30, C-60, C-90 Go! Go!! Go!!!’ RR Vol 4 No. 11/12 1981 p. 8

[iii] Andrea Jones, “Fast Forward” fills the gap between magazine and LP’ ARS #340 p. 18

[iv] Philip Hayward Music at the Borders p. 26

[v] Tyrone Flex, ‘C-30, C-60, C-90 Go! Go!! Go!!!’ RR Vol 4 No. 11/12 1981 p. 8

[vi] ‘News’ Vox Muzpaper November 1981 p. 3

You can check out the complete archives over at spill-label including the digitized original cassette audio!