Being a child of the eighties, it is guaranteed that Walkman cassette players were owned. It was the go-to portable device and held its dominance for more than a decade. When the format changed to CDs, by the mid-nineties portable CD players was the norm. Of course, those gave ways to iPods and mobile devices by 2000s. However, cassette tapes more than disappeared from retail outlets, unless you dropped into second-hand stores.
Imagine the surprise to many people when the Nielsen Media Research announced their annual Music Year-End Report for 2017, which indicated that cassette tape sales were on the rise. Their highest level since 2012. The report indicates that sales rose 35 percent to 174,000 units sold.
What was the reason for the uptick in sales? It seems that the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, which was released in cassette form. In 2016, cassette tape sales rose 74 percent and 129,000 units sold. Which puts this year’s numbers into perspective. It seems that nostalgia seems to be pushing sales, and growing sections in second-hand record stores.
Billboard notes that the three Guardians of the Galaxy soundtracks led sales in 2017, which was followed by the Stranger Things, Volume 1 soundtrack. While many people have been talking about the malaise of the music industry in recent years, it seems people are getting nostalgic. It seems that other popular albums sold in 2017 included Eminem’s 2002 album The Eminem Show, Nirvana’s 1991 album Nevermind, and Kanye West’s 2013 album Yeezus.
Despite those gains, cassettes remain a niche format: consumers purchased 169.1 million albums in 2017 (down 17.7 percent from 2016), while 14.3 million of those albums were vinyl. A pattern seems to be growing.