Picture this: it’s the middle of summer break. You and your friends hop on your bikes and ride to the mall. You grab an Orange Julius and head for the arcade, but suddenly stop when a music store’s sign catches your eye: “There’s a revolution.”
The Sony Walkman was first released on July 1, 1979, and pioneered portable music. With the first Compact Disc released in 1983, the MP3 player in 1998 and Apple’s iPod Touch in 2007, the way we listen to music has dramatically changed since the 1970s. Although the methods of listening to music have changed, CDs, vinyl and cassettes are still sought after.
Vinyl records have been popular since the late 1940s, but in recent years they have begun to outsell CDs. Vinyl records are sought out and collected, but will we see cassette tapes make a similar comeback?
Sales of cassette tapes have seen an increase over the last couple of years in Hattiesburg. T-Bones Records & Café continues to have cassette sale numbers increase after participating in Cassette Store Day, an event started by Burger Records in California in 2014, and taken part in five of them.
Mik Davis, record store manager of T-Bones, has kept track of vinyl and cassette sales.
“Since about 2018, we have seen a significant interest in cassettes starting with Twenty One Pilot’s surge and the reissues of Prince titles. New releases like Beck, Lana Del Rey, Weyes Blood and Angel Olsen have all been here at T-Bones,” Davis said. “The local bands are eagerly leaping into the cassette stream with tapes from Judy & The Jerks, Him Horrison and Control Room.”
Although nowhere near vinyl’s sales numbers, cassettes continue to gain steam with collectors and music fans that are eager to try out and support new artists or styles.
“T-Bones continues to invest in cassettes. Completists love them. The design and advancement in printing and design have made tapes that are far superior to the golden age in the 80s.” Davis said.
Although cassettes may not reach the same popularity as vinyl, they carry a nostalgia.
Southern Miss graduate Allie Morgan adores the look and nostalgia of vinyl and cassette tapes.
“My niece and nephew both got [vinyl] for Christmas, and they are in high school and college,” Morgan said, “I love the thought of vinyl and cassettes coming back. I think cassettes may have a chance, but I definitely think vinyl will stick around for a while.”
When asked if she would have a Walkman, and what tape she would rock in the 80s, Morgan said, “Oh, absolutely. I would have found a way to make a mixtape because I can’t just choose one.”
While Davis and Morgan see hope for a comeback of cassette tapes, some people, such as senior polymer science engineering major, Sarah Gaston think vinyl will continue to reign.
“I don’t think cassettes will have a chance of coming back. But vinyl, yes. I have several, and I honestly love them,” Gaston said.“If I lived in the 80s, some cassette tapes I’d definitely have would be Led Zeppelin or Journey.”