Trends in music styles much like fashion have the ability to change as fast as the seasons roll by.

However the trends of music formats is a curious case. Seen normally as an evolution of technology rather than an alteration in consumer tastes the recent revival of vinyl has shattered that sentiment. While MP3’s and online streaming are currently the primary avenues of enjoying recorded music last years vinyl sales reached $177 million, their highest since 1997.

Whether the rebirth in popularity for vinyl has more to do with acquiring street cred than it does buyers lusting over a tangible object is a can of worms best opened elsewhere. But undoubtedly the pop crackle sound that you get from dropping the needle on a record or the sheer joy in appreciating the large album artwork has created warm feelings of nostalgia for listeners pining for a supposed lost art of enjoying recorded music in such a manner.

It appears that nostalgia is again behind the reason of the cassette tape format being brought back from the dead. It’s a cause that cassette tragics Jen Long (Kissability label), Steven Rose (Sexbeat label) and Matt Flag (Suplex Cassettes) are championing with their creation of Cassette Store Day, which is this Saturday the 27th of September.

Inspired by the successful International Record Store Day, which aims to promote and support local vinyl sellers worldwide, the cassette variation will see a number of limited edition albums released on the medium while other classic albums will be given some re-release love.

Yet it is hard to get past the fact that Cassette Store Day is nothing more than an extra shot of unnecessary schmaltz, which the music industry quite simply doesn’t need.

“Deerhunter, Haim, Fucked Up, The Flaming Lips and countless others are releasing tapes for Cassette Store Day. But why?”

Long declares in a recent piece for NME that the event is “not all nostalgic cool”. But throughout the article neither Long nor a quote from Flag manage to convince otherwise.

While describing the current music industry as fast paced and addictive with “endless free downloads” Long states that you “can’t sell MP3’s from a merch table”. No not exactly, but instead gig goers can download a band’s album from a streaming service right there on their mobile phone or buy the album online when they get home. Long’s statement suggests nothing more than sentimentality towards a physical product.

Furthermore as she includes in brackets, “and it isn’t the most romantic way of introducing someone to a great band”. But it is the 21st Century way and sharing an MP3 shouldn’t be any less sentimental just because it is a new method.

Long ends her piece with a quote from her partner in nostalgia-based crime. While Flag blushes over pre-teen memories of tapes in a bid to rectify their worth he concludes with the slightly less refined view that “they look rad!”

Even they would have to admit that such a statement wasn’t by any means their strongest argument against Cassette Store Day being anything less than “hipster nonsense”.

However Long and Flag’s only non-nostalgia based claim is that cassette tapes are the best “showcase for a band that is not ready to spend £1000 to drop 500 7″s into the world”. They assert that it is a cheaper medium.

While they’re a lower-cost option compared to producing vinyl, cassettes aren’t quite as economical as releasing music digitally, at east not anymore.

“This might be what our future holds. Music formats seen as fashion trends, sentimentality as marketability.”

Moreover, why would an up and coming band want to “showcase” their music via cassette tapes anyway? Some may have forgotten since the hey day of the compact cassette between 1965 and the late 80s, but the sharp decline of their sales in favor of the CD is simply and logically due to the fact that the sound quality was horrible in comparison to their modern counterparts.

Still this hasn’t stopped the likes of Dinosaur Jr., Deerhunter, Haim, Fucked Up, The Flaming Lips and countless others releasing tapes for the medium’s day this weekend.

A cassette renaissance isn’t or at least shouldn’t be on the cards. Some may bemoan the loss of the mixtape and herald its reemergence as a hipster’s wet dream, but while the word ‘tape’ may be in the title the idea of sharing music isn’t exclusive to this medium. You only need to see our own mixtape section to see why there is little point in being overly literal.

The idea of putting music on a USB or sharing it via social media may not seem quite as attractive as a mixtape, but why waste the money on terrible sound quality and a medium that is about as robust as the floppy disk?

Nostalgia that’s why.

Vinyl has comfortably filled the role that wanting to own something physical requires. Why then would a listener who already owns an album digitally and on vinyl (most new LPs come with a free digital download) want to extend that to a cassette tape? Who even owns a cassette player in 2013 anyway?

It’s all rather asinine. But maybe this is what our future holds. Music formats seen as fashion trends. Will there be an 8-track International Day? Will we celebrate the compact disk in years to come? What about when albums can be experienced through holograms? Will Thom Yorke release an exclusive album through Spotify for International Streaming Service Release Day?

Ok, maybe not.

While sentimentality is often used as a market mechanism, it’s hard to see Cassette Store Day as anything more than a couple of harmless music lovers yearning for a bygone era.

The cassette tape might want to share the revival stage with vinyl records but the music industry should be focusing on the present. That is, adapting to a digital world and finding a sustainable business model that benefits everybody.  An online environment where at the very least the quality of the recorded music far outweighs the reminiscence of a medium that should stay dead and buried.

Cassette tapes might make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, they might even make you look cool but its international store day is nothing more than an act of nostalgia taken too far.

International Cassette Store Day is this Saturday September 27th. 

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