Politics & Business

Cassettes are making a comeback, as seen on the Colorado Springs music scene – Colorado Springs Gazette

That might sound like an old story. Something old is surprisingly cool again.

Like what happened to vinyl, the music medium that was almost out of date before returning unexpectedly and triumphantly over the past few decades.

Now it's the turn of the humble cassette. In 2020, cassette sales rose 33%, according to Discogs. And sales in music stores in Colorado Springs have increased.

But this – the recent popularity of cassettes – hits a different note. Because it doesn't make as much sense as the rise of vinyl, at least not in the market that sells tapes.

Cassettes don't have what records have on their side: the sound quality.

While vinyl records are known for having a rich and nuanced sound, tapes are known for adding hissing or muffled sounds to your favorite songs.

"Anyone who tells you they sound amazing is full of it," says Adam Leech, who owns The Leechpit in Old Colorado City.

Geoff Brent, who owns The Black Sheep and plays in a popular local band, Cheap Perfume, feels the same way.

"Our record label keeps suggesting them and I just don't understand them," he said. "I'm old enough to remember that they are one of the least functional ways to listen to music."

Take it from Byran Ostrow, who owns What’s Left Records.

"Personally, I don't like the sound of tapes that much," he said. "People who say it sounds good … I don't think so."

Nevertheless, the cassettes are fully in force again.

When Leech opened his music and vintage store 18 years ago, Leech had a large supply of tapes, mostly just for fun. In the early years, very few customers asked for ribbons, let alone bought ribbons.

"I've heard them for 20 years," said Leech. "I wasn't expecting it, but I was hoping they'd get popular again."

His hope came true.

Every now and then someone would come in and ask for a cassette. Then it wasn't just now and then. Leech noticed a surge after Marvel's hit "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2", in which Chris Pratt's character is portrayed with a tape recorder.

He saw he could start selling tapes for $ 5 instead of a quarter or two. Other ribbons enclosed in a glass case cost $ 50 or $ 100.

"It sure grows," said Leech. “More and more people are asking about tapes, especially younger children. Everyone is talking about it. "

Big draw? The costs.

Most new popular albums are available on cassette tapes, from Post Malone to Taylor Swift. Compare an 18 dollar cassette to a 30 dollar record.

"It's not a healthy thing," says Ostrow. "It's more of a budget thing."

And it's a cool thing.

"There's nostalgia there," said Leech. "It's ironic nostalgia. Children are nostalgic for a time when they didn't live."

Leech recalls when tapes were originally the talk of the town. They came on stage in the 1970s and 1980s and were praised for the ease of playing them in a stereo, car, or walkman. When CDs came out they were portable and sounded better. So the tapes were gone.

But the tapes were sticking around. And the rosy memories too.

"Like everyone else, I did mix tapes to impress the girls with my taste in music," said Leech. "You did that."

And like new generations, millennials and Gen X members think tapes are cool.

Urban Outfitters, the retail giant where you can find Britney Spears tapes and tape recorders, is a testament to its on trend.

The Leechpit does not have any new releases such as cassette versions of new albums by Post Malone or Lana Del Ray.

"I still think that's kind of hokey," said Leech. "It's just some kind of gimmick."

But he will continue to sell vintage tapes of Fleetwood Mac or Slayer music.

"I'm always a bit surprised when something comes back," he said. “But it shows that Spotify only goes so far. People would rather play the real thing. "

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply