Despite the music consumption went almost entirely digital, it seems like analogue ways face renaissance. The demand for vinyl has remained strong, driven by the passion fans feel for the format and the emotional connection it provides with the music. While some have speculated about whether we have reached "peak vinyl," the overall trend indicates continued growth in vinyl sales for the foreseeable future.
Vinyl has experienced a resurgence in recent years, with sales continuing to rise. In the US, vinyl sales were up 21.7% for the first half of 2023 compared to the same period last year. The UK also saw a 12% increase in vinyl sales in the first six months of 2023, with more than 2.7 million LPs sold. But is the reason for this revival a unique sound or tactile appeal of vinyl? It's both, actually, as well as events like "vinyl nights," which also fuelled a renewed interest in the analogue format.
Cassettes have also experienced a revival, albeit to a lesser extent than vinyl. In the US, cassette album sales grew by 35% in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Similarly, the UK saw a 15.7% increase in cassette sales in the first six months of 2023, with over 100,000 cassettes sold.
This revival of cassettes is part of a broader trend of renewed interest in physical music formats, driven by a desire for tangible music experiences and unique collectibles.
While cassettes haven't seen the same level of growth as vinyl, the format has carved out a niche market, with some artists releasing new music on cassettes and labels reissuing classic albums in this format, and seeing a steady revival thanks to movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and the award-winning Netflix series Stranger Things, set in the 80s.
No wonder that companies happily address the demand. We Are Rewind has introduced a modern take on cassette players, merging retro charm with contemporary technology, promising to whisk music enthusiasts back to the golden era of cassette tapes.
Reviving the allure of '80s and '90s cassette players, these updated models have wireless connectivity, so that users can effortlessly pair Bluetooth headphones for a tangle-free listening experience, and a rechargeable lithium battery that provides up to twelve hours of continuous playback.
A standout feature of these players is that you can record and make mixtapes with your favourite songs. Familiar features like fast forward/rewind buttons, headphone output, volume control, and audio input cater to nostalgia while adding modern functionality.
What about the environment, though? The environmental impact of cassette production and usage is notable—a single cassette uses 79g of plastic and produces 2.8kg of greenhouse gas emissions. In comparison, the carbon footprint of streaming is much lower, with an hour of media streaming producing around 55g of emissions.
And yet, the overall environmental impact of streaming is huge, considering that it includes the energy costs of storing and transmitting digital music files. The shift from physical formats to digital has led to a decrease in plastic production, though, but music consumption caused an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
If you're worried how the company addresses environmental impact (which is a valid concern), We Are Rewind claims their cassette players are "powered by rechargeable lithium batteries, providing up to 12 hours of continuous playback, a more practical and environmentally friendly alternative."
"At a time when music is going digital, when everything is accessible in a few seconds, the magnetism and romanticism of an audio cassette have remained intact," says Mattieu Mazières, General Director at We Are Rewind. "This shared nostalgia for 80s and 90s culture is what compelled Romain and I to start this business and find a manufacturer to build our design. Now we look forward to sharing our cassette players with other music lovers."