The vinyl LP revival has been going on for several years now. You can buy vinyl in supermarkets, so it's not something that's just for specialists, it's a mass-market phenomenon. You can sometimes buy all sorts of heavyweight coloured vinyl special releases (if you're quick, that is - some of them sell out even before they're available!).
But what of the vinyl LP's companion (or arch enemy, depending on your point of view), the compact cassette tape? Is there a revival of compact cassettes? If you Google 'cassette tape revival' you'll find numerous articles asking this question.
I'm not qualified to answer the question because I haven't studied the market research data on cassette tapes, but I do think that most of the reasons why cassettes originally became popular have a lot to do with the limitations of vinyl. And I think that if cassettes are to become really popular again, it'll be for a very different set of reasons.
Check out our blog post 'Record collection music print - the fine art of browsing vinyl LP albums'.
Vinyl has had a successful revival for several years now. Perhaps originally the vinyl revival had an element of nostalgia to help it, but vinyl definitely has a sense of 'cool' about it. You get something for your money; a beautiful package with a bit of weight and a bit of size to it.
A new vinyl LP always had, and presumably still has, that wonderful moment when you tip the sleeve and slip the record out; the light glistens off the grooves, the balance of weight changes as you tip it over, the feeling of care (perhaps even reverence) that you need when handling it is something special. A new vinyl LP is like a valuable piece of delicate treasure (which for some people, I guess, is exactly what it is).
Because of a vinyl LP's size, there's a lot of scope for special editions and the artwork has significant prominence. Artwork is very important in the visual word we live in. You only have to look on Instagram to see how visual vinyl has become - and it's not just the cover, now it's the LP itself, especially with the emergence of multicolour patterned vinyl releases.
There's been a long-running ongoing debate about the sound of vinyl versus the sound of digital music formats (like CD, mp3 and streaming).
So vinyl always had its supporters and its believers.
Have cassettes always had their supporters and believers? I don't think so.
Cassettes are too small for the artwork to be prominent.
Cassettes never really had that feeling of quality. They always rattled a bit and a lot of them were made from very cheap looking (and feeling) plastic, with bad (or smudged) printed text that was sometimes hard to read.
Would multicolour tape make a difference? I don't know if it's even possible, but cassette tape isn't visible when you're playing it so you don't get the 'WOW' experience you get from a large multicoloured disc spinning at thirty three and a third.
The sound quality of a cassette isn't going to help a revival.
The big two advantages of cassette tape over vinyl - that you can record on it and you can take it anywhere - have been roundly trumped by digital music. Recordable CDs had better sound quality, a similar playing time and they were a lot more robust (though a CD Discman was a lot more awkward than a Walkman). The iPod's success started because you could carry 1000 songs on a single device that was much the same size as a cassette.
So, what do cassettes have left to woo us with?
Cassettes have novelty on their side. They have familiarity, at least for some of us. They have publicity - lots of people are writing about the possibility of a cassette revival and lots of people are writing it off as a flash-in-the-pan fad. Maybe that's reason enough to ensure the success of a revival.
The elevencorners blog is about personalised prints, so why are we writing about cassette tapes? Because we've just added some new personalised print designs based on cassette tapes.
The prints celebrate the fondly-remembered (by some!) cassette format but: