Format as Vehicle: Victoria cassette tape culture




McIntyre, Mark

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In the age of digital supremacy, where an infinite amount of music is available at the click of a button, there has been a resurgence of formerly obsolete musical formats. Vinyl records, a medium thought to have faded into oblivion when CDs were embraced as the industry standard, have since seen a resurgence among underground music labels and their major label counterparts, selling over 4 million units in 2014. Physical audio media in the age of the MP3 is rare, yet both independent and major record labels have embraced the vinyl medium. Interestingly, in tandem with the vinyl revival, cassette tapes have become the medium of choice for independent bands interested in distributing their music and ideas on the cheap, side stepping the exorbitant production costs and wait times that are increasing due to major label’s (re)appropriation of the vinyl record. Interestingly, while many online platforms allow the free and immediate distribution of music, cassette tapes can be found on merchandise tables of independent Victoria, BC bands whose music spans the underground spectrums of folk, punk rock, garage, noise, metal, and indie rock. While digital media is still the go to format for many musicians and consumers, cassette tapes and other physical formats offer artists complete control over how their work is distributed and a cheap vehicle to connect with music consumers and other artists, fostering and maintaining community in the process.



cassette tapes, independent bands, Victoria, BC, artist control, music consumers, music community, obsolete musical formats