Who needs MP3s when you've got cassette tapes? According to the Nielsen Media Research Music Year-End Report for 2017, sales of tapes rose another 35 percent in the US last year, with a total of 174,000 units shifted. That's the best year for cassettes since 2012.
The uptick, which follows another strong rise in cassette tape sales in 2016, is mainly down to the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy and Stranger Things leading a retro revival and sparking renewed interest in all things 80s, the glory years for tapes. Both the movie franchise and the show have released music on cassette tape in recent years.
And vinyl sales rose again for the 12th consecutive year, making up 14 percent of all physical album sales during 2017. It seems that many of those who like to still buy physical music media are quite keen to get it on an older rather than a newer format.
We all streamed over 250 billion audio tracks during 2017 as well, a rise of 58.7 percent, which helped to contribute to an overall increase in music consumption of 12.5 percent across the whole year. Total album sales were down though across both physical and digital formats.
In terms of sales and streams, Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee was the biggest song of the 2017, followed by Shape of You by Ed Sheeran and Humble by Kendrick Lamar. Ed Sheeran's Divide was the most popular album of the year, followed by Kendrick Lamar’s Damn and Taylor Swift’s Reputation.
Cassette tapes remain a niche format in the grander scheme of things, but it's interesting that the humble tape can still find a place in the world of on-demand digital music and subscription streaming services. Maybe the mixtape isn't dead yet.