Nostalgic cassette tapes are seeing a comeback, with sales increasing nearly 30% as artists release new music on tape.
- In 2022, sales of albums on cassette tape in the U.S. increased by 28% to 440,000, up from 343,000 in 2021, according to the U.S. 2022 Luminate Year-End Music Report.
- Physical album sales totaled 79.89 million in 2022, making cassettes a 0.55% share of the physical album market, which is small but still a significant jump considering only 74,000 total cassettes were sold in 2015.
- The top five selling cassettes in the U.S. for 2022, according to Billboard Music…
- Soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2 (17,000)
- Taylor Swift, Midnights (14,000)
- Soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (13,000)
- Harry Styles, Harry’s House (11,000)
- Billie Eilish, Happier Than Ever (8,000)
Why it’s news
Cassette tapes were a music staple in the 1980s and 1990s, but the small tapes fell in popularity as CDs emerged on the market. Most trends from that time tend to circle back around, and it’s the cassette tape’s time as sales are taking off in the U.S.
Cassette tapes debuted in the market in the 1960s and quickly rose to popularity as anyone could record their favorite songs on the tapes and they were quick and easy to use. Between 1963 and 1988, more than 3 billion tapes were sold, but as CDs began hitting the market, cassette sales declined.
Cassettes remained popular for a specific audience that enjoyed the nostalgia of them, but other than that, sales were minimal. Recently that has changed as artists began releasing new albums on streaming services, CDs, vinyl records, and cassette tapes.
The emergence of new music on cassettes sent the numbers soaring once again. Between 2020 and 2021, tape sales nearly doubled from 173,000 to 343,000, and in 2022 sales jumped 28% to 440,000.
Artists are releasing new music on tapes, including huge stars Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish, who released their latest albums on colored cassettes. The new albums are typically released on the artists’ websites but still amass thousands of sales.
As more consumers and artists play into the nostalgia of the tapes, the numbers will likely continue to grow in the next few years.