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ARSCLIST  April 2012

ARSCLIST April 2012

Subject:

Re: Are these newfangled cassettes here to stay? Circa 1969

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 10:28:30 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (89 lines)

Hi David:

I would say that a cassette is liable to last longer than a CDR (those things are actually quite
fragile when used like a music CD, not as fragile when used infrequently and stored properly), so I
could see how a kid would see more value in a cassette. They are definitely "different," "retro" and
"old-school," so there's that appeal to certain kids. If I were a band doing a very DIY
small-numbers release, I could see how cassettes would work as a physical product, but you'd want an
online presence too, selling FLAC downloads so all those fans who gave up on cassettes a long time
ago could DIY their own CDRs.

One of the big breakthroughs with the newly-pressed LP niche was including a download code. I wish
that were universal. The whole portability problem is solved in one fell swoop and you still have
the LP artifact and "full-sized sound" for home enjoyment. In the Record Store Day LPs, the new Dr
John album and the reissued Refuse album included CDs with the LPs. I actually prefer that, but a
download code is fine too in most cases (as long as the LP was done competently, which was the case
with both of these albums)

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Lewis" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 9:55 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Are these newfangled cassettes here to stay? Circa 1969


> Thanks Tom for this. At the current point in time cassettes are thriving in
> the underground, long after I had given them up for dead. I have no idea
> why. My tiny indie Hospital Records actually released more cassette-only
> issues than discs in the 1980s; mass duplication was cheap, and you could
> manufacture copies yourself though it was work intensive and the product
> was a little substandard. But I was working on no budget, and the format
> fit that.
>
> There was a network of artist's made cassettes in the 1980s, and most of
> them were poor. One of the most avidly traded artist made cassettes was
> "Apples Big! China Doll" by the Dutch artist Edward Kas'pel. Eugene
> Chadbourne issued a bunch of them, there was a proper label, Sound of Pig,
> that released nothing but and Throbbing Gristle released their entire live
> concert output in a set of 75 cassettes that came in a little case. I
> released my last cassette, "The Uncle Dave Primer," in 1993 but when it
> took over a year to sell the tiny 75 copy run I decided I'd had enough.
> There is only one archive that I know of that is accepting them for
> preservation, and that is BGSU. They already have an impressive number of
> them, and as the format tends to be so short lived I genuinely hope that
> they are able to copy them before too long, though time is running out, I'm
> afraid.
>
> I am honorary president of the Art Damage Foundation Inc., a non-profit
> that supports performances of avant-garde music in Cincinnati area. Once
> the guys who really run the organization asked me to compile a master for
> Teddy and the Frat Girls, a pioneer all-girl punk group from Florida whose
> record I issued in 1981. I set to work on it but stopped when they told me
> they wanted to release it on cassette. I think I actually said, "Are you
> kidding me?!" But when you go to the merch table at an Art Damage
> Foundation gig it is loaded with tapes, and I've seen the same situation at
> other undergrounds I've been to in the last couple of years. The perception
> is among the young that a cassette has more inherent value than a CDR. I'm
> not making this up!
>
> Uncle Dave Lewis
> Lebanon, OH
>
> On Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 8:42 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>
>> http://www.yousendit.com/**download/**M3BsZFhqRndwcFYzZU5Vag?cid=tx-**
>> 02002207340200000000&s=19102<http://www.yousendit.com/download/M3BsZFhqRndwcFYzZU5Vag?cid=tx-02002207340200000000&s=19102>
>> (paste full link in browser)
>>
>> From High Fidelity, 7/69 - "Are Cassettes Here To Stay?" Interesting stats
>> about how quickly duped cassettes out-sold duped quarter-track reels (which
>> was more a somewhat large niche rather than a mainstream mass medium). It
>> would take the Walkman to rocket cassettes ahead of LP records, in the
>> 1980s. Then the "fantastic technological breakthrough" predicted in the
>> last sentence of the article took place with the CD, and cassettes were
>> doomed. It took the CD about 10 years to out-sell duped cassettes, but by
>> the 20th anniversary of the CD, duped cassettes were almost gone as a mass
>> medium in the US and most other Western countries. Cassettes still hang on
>> in parts of the Third World.
>>
>> Interesting aside -- the same issue of High Fidelity shows a very small
>> portable (mono) cassette recorder from Ampex. So by 1969, the seeds were
>> sown to build a Walkman. I wonder why it took 10+ years for Sony to do it?
>> It seems like everyone saw that car and walk-around portability were the
>> key superior features of cassettes, from the get-go.
>>
>> -- Tom Fine
>

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