Rewind: Cassettes are cool again


Author of The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction, and MP3: The Meaning of a Format, and editor of The Sound Studies Reader, Sterne thinks tapes are here to stay - for now, anyway. "No format is permanent," the musician and scholar said by email. "Cassettes are enjoying a second life as a nostalgia medium. They're appealing to certain music subcultures because they're relics of an earlier period and because you can hold them in your hand. "They're also a lot cheaper to release than vinyl, which makes them a great option for micro-labels who might otherwise only be able to do digital releases. "But, looking forward, cassettes will only last as long as there is sufficient market demand for companies to continue manufacturing them. Does he listen to cassettes? "No," he replied. "But it's partly my age (42). I remember listening to warped cassettes that had been kept in a too-hot car for too long, and I remember releasing music on cassette (as a bassist with a band in 1991) because we were too broke to put it out on vinyl. "I have no nostalgia for them whatsoever."