Friday, August 21, 2009

Music Promotion via Cassette Tape in the Digital Age

It's nice to have retro versions of your music.

Vinyl is a big fad again, this time as an underground revelry around the pops, scratches, clicks, needle skips, hifi analog sound reproduction, and artifactual surface noise that only vinyl can deliver.

Cassette tapes are another incredibly flawed and old fashioned mode of music distribution. Wow and flutter, oxide particle hiss, mold, motor drag, head demagnetizing, strand entanglements, and drop outs are common problems.

I hate how you have to rewind and fast forward intuitively guessing where songs might be buried in the magnetic mess. But I'll soon be releasing some Str8 Sounds music on Cassette Tape Only, the good old cassalbums of yesteryear.

Do you have cassette tape editions of your band's music? Why not? Some people have tape decks in their older cars, and they might love to jam away on your tunes. It might shock some friends, they might say "I thought you only had a tape deck in your car!" and you say, "I do. This is a cassette you're hearing now. A cassalbum by Rubber 0 Cement" or whatever.

Regression is fun. Put out wire recordings, Edison cylinders, 78 rpm ceramics, DATs, 8 track cartridges, vinyl singles, and cassalbums of your band now!

Click here to visit Str8 Sounds on Rhizome.

Now my pals at Rhizome at the New Museum (NYC) have an interesting article on cassettes: "101 Cassette Labels".


In the 1980s, cassette labels played a vital role in the distribution of underground music, most notably in the noise, industrial, and punk scenes of the time. Easy and relatively inexpensive to produce, cassettes became a common format for the circulation of music lacking popular appeal. Although the majors produced cassettes as well, many of the producers of these underground labels saw their DIY business model as a stance against the greed of the mainstream music industry. Connections made through distribution and information sharing among the artists and musicians in these circles helped to establish a network for those involved.

In the age of GarageBand, Myspace, and file sharing, it may come as a surprise to some that cassette labels are still very much in operation.

Tapes now function as a basic form of patronage between musicians and their audience; since a physical format is no longer necessary to send or receive music, these objects become a gesture of support.

Tapes act to make tangible the connection between a creator and their listeners, and the attentive and often handmade packaging speaks to this exchange.

One instance of this relationship is revealed in the description provided for the Gilgongo Records “Singular Set” series, a run of cassette releases recorded directly onto the tape by the musician in an edition of one.

Gilgongo’s James Fella explains that for the project, “…the emphasis is on reaching out and sharing something specific with one other person, that an unrepeated portion of time and creation was individually cut and passed on to one other person to hold onto as their own.”

Cassettes also yield a grainy, degraded sound quality, an aspect that has its own appeal. The draw to this sound can be read as a type of nostalgia,


READ MORE at Rhizome

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