Cassette Tape Comeback Continues

24 April 2023 | 9:55 am | Mary Varvaris

Interestingly, the outselling of cassette tapes resulted from an inability to buy vinyl.

(Pic by Jon Tyson)

More Arctic Monkeys More Arctic Monkeys

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has unveiled new statistics regarding the cassette revival in 2022. First vinyl, now cassette; how long will the cassette comeback last?

As Digital Music News reports, cassette sales made up 10% of chart sales for ten different #1 albums in the UK last year, with some artists selling more cassette tapes than vinyl records.

Interestingly, the outselling of cassette tapes resulted from an inability to buy vinyl - vinyl was unavailable, long wait times due to production delays, higher prices, you name it - and this was directly noticed with Central Cee’s 23, Digga D’s Noughty By Nature, and Blackpink’s Born Pink.

The biggest-selling cassette album in the UK in 2022 was Arctic Monkeys’ latest album, The Car. The British rockers were followed by Harry’s House by Harry Styles - the highest-selling album in all formats in the UK - then Florence + The Machine’s Dance Fever, Muse’s Will Of The People, and Central Cee’s 23

Blackpink’s Born Pink, Machine Gun Kelly’s Mainstream Sellout, Robbie WilliamsXXV, and The 1975’s Being Funny In A Foreign Language all finished in the year’s Top 10.

Griffith University cultural sociologist Dr Benjamin Duester told Australian Financial Review earlier this year that cassette tapes could very well see a comeback, with major artists such as Dua Lipa, Adele, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, and more releasing new albums on cassette.

Duester said, “Large record companies see there is some kind of market there, and perhaps they don’t fully understand it, but the risk for them is so low they can do it anyway.”

In a report from Billboard Biz, 2017 saw cassette tape sales rise a whopping 35%, mostly thanks to the Guardians Of The Galaxy. 

The soundtrack for Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2, was the largest-selling cassette of the year, with 19,000 copies sold. It was closely followed by the original Guardians Of The Galaxy soundtrack, at 15,000 sales, and the soundtrack to the animated Guardians Of The Galaxy TV show came in with 5,000 sales. 

While the numbers are small compared to other album sales, the niche market continues to grow, with an additional 45,000 cassettes purchased in 2017 compared to the previous year.

According to the Nielsen Music cassette sales chart, the Stranger Things soundtrack came in at #4 with 3,000 sales, Eminem's The Eminem Show at #5 with 3,000, the Hamilton Musical soundtrack at #6 with 3,000, and Prince's Purple Rain soundtrack at #7 with 2,000 sales.