Releasing on cassette tapes?

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  • @splittybooms  Mar 23

    Curious if anyone here releases or has released an album on cassette tape recently.
    I'm seriously thinking about doing this - maybe having about 10 tapes made up for sale (I do not have many fans, so that'll be plenty).
    I've only started to do some research on it and have found a couple possible resources, one being myself digging out my old stereo from the garage.
    But I was just wondering if any of you do this.
    Some questions:
    What type (normal/high bias) tapes do you use, where did you get them from and how much (ball park)?
    What was your process - did you hook your computer up to a deck and just hit record, or is there a better way?
    How did you go about selling them - online/asking a local record shop to sell them (if this was your method, explain how it works a little bit?)/handing them out at shows (I'm not at a 'perform at a show' level right now but curious anyway)/something else?
    How do you feel about the actual sound of your stuff being on tape as opposed to a digital release?
    K, thanks lol

  • @splittybooms  Mar 23

    Also - did you do anything different with mixing/mastering when you released on tape?

  • @chipwithrow  Mar 24

    As a longtime collector of live music on cassette (mainly Grateful Dead and related performers, lots of Allman Brothers too), I'm wondering why you're thinking of doing this.
    I still have a cassette deck (well, a boom box) but long ago gave away all of my hundreds and hundreds of tapes. Just about everything I ever owned is now easily available online and streaming.
    Don't get me wrong, I think it's a cool idea, but I'm curious as to why you'd do it. Is there a cassette resurgence I don't know about?

  • @guatecoop  Mar 24

    @splittybooms talk to @eargoggle. He has a cassette-based label in nyc.

  • @guatecoop  Mar 24

    I hit the button too soon. His music is awesome and the sounds are great.

  • @johnstaples  Mar 24

    I'm curious too. Why would you release on cassette when it has practically disappeared? I get the vinyl craze although I'll never buy vinyl again but I don't think I could even play a cassette if I had one.

  • @zecoop  Mar 24

    @johnstaples @chipwithrow and @splittybooms - Yes there actually is a cassette resurgence. Tons of indie bands are doing that. Tons of big name indie
    bands are doing that. Beach House (Sub Pop records) does that, along with vinyl and everything else. Obviously I do the 4-track (and 8-track) thing, which I love. It has a certain sound, and can sound amazing.

    Do I prefer cassette and would I release on cassette... probably not. Rewind, FF... it's kind of a pain. But it can be a cheap way to go, for small releases with an actual physical product. Hard to stay cheap for CD or vinyl. CD is the one that really is heading downward these days. 😉

  • @ustaknow Mar 24
    (2017), others, many.

    If I were you Splitty - I'd send one to him. (Remember?) He (Jack White) "toured" Canada 😝 and played at ever bar, garage, firehouse with house band. (That was a while ago, - but, see what Vinyl did for him 😀 ) Following a formula, usual, status quo path will get you what? Or?

    I remember having tape to tape copy function on my rack (to rip tapes), but, haven't seen it in a while. Check eBay? for "Stereo" units, Cassette, players with two decks (tap duping), w or w/o it's own amp.

    As far a Tape -lots around like the box I posted on FAWM a few month back? (Gotta response did it) Brand new best quality and way more time than you'd need. Get a case of surplus source, not "new" from a resurrection guru -first try. (I saw ads for folks glad to send free, upayship from time to time.)

    Rule #1, never tell anyone your plans 'cause they'll sheit all over them and try to hammer you back into their shape.

    USB your best track to Tape-in 😝 😝 😝 and record, - your master. Dup from that one only since "degrade" each issue after in sequence. Forget the tech, just follow the old ways and you'll be OK.

    My 8-Track still works in my '79 MGB if you offer that? 😉

    Notta COMPETE timeline, actually missing one or two between cassette, and Reel to Reel 😀 which is missing as well, - but what came up quick. Graphics, always a good addition, aye?! 😀

    Quick note; Jack White when setting up in Nashville, - well you should see his start; like you and I setting up woodwork in the garage, - didn't care, just did it. His return Policy, "Don't cry like a baby, sell it on eBay like all the rest" - as likely for double as it went.

    Ah, past is prologue, aye!?

    - Careful to what "expert" you listen to, or don't 😉

    Do it do it do it do it! If they get it, there's your niche, don't, - walk away!

  • @ustaknow Mar 24

    Oh, and @splittybooms - forgot above, though know you are fairly technical; why dup? Faster. But, hey if you got patience, USB to each tape. I don't think (?) - one may hear the difference; but could save on and old school rack dual TapeDeck.

    Even my old (in the garage) boom box, has dual deck, tape to tape, - man, they just keep working and can fix to the third generation of great grandkids.

    I remember prior to Blackheart from - folks lauged at, "why you making Tube amps"? Well, the boutique consumers from NYC to SanFran got it. And?

    I'm excited for you buddy!

    Look into this far enough, set up for yours, then, - charge others to put out lots of 20. All the cool kids aren't doing it! - Time to do it! 😝

    I'd love to hear back the quotes you get. Why?

    In my area, there's 20 "Hair Salons"... and yet a new one opens anyway. Why? "They" do it how others like and steel 20% of the 20, or all, and two close down.

    -- "It's not personal, it's just business" 😀

  • @ustaknow Mar 24

    oh, and and and ... splitty, - anyone old enough to really answer your questions, (I read'em all above, and all great ones!), - won't answer you "here"; if would at all. Engineers were not "open" people to begin with 😀 😉

    And, and... imagine that thread here, wtf? tltr! and etc. 😀 - do your best mix, then USB to Tape and listen, compare - why can't you be the best source for that info? And if you master legacy tech (like Jack did), - why would you tell anyone? 😀 (Just say'ing, many give plenty away here, me included...)

    Just don't get pulled into, "I have all your answers here" just send me your track with $150 to eval it and then... - not that you would, just say'in!

  • @vomvorton  Mar 24

    I haven't released anything on tape, but I've considered it and done some investigation, so I'll share a few things that I found. I can only share links to the stuff I found in the UK but I'm guessing most of it will be transferable.

    So, there are places that will do all the duplication for you - generally you select types of tape, length, packaging etc. and they give you a quote. This is probably worthwhile if you're getting 100+ tapes made up (maybe even 50) but most likely won't be cost effective for ten.

    There are also places (with some overlap) that offer newly made cassettes of various lengths and qualities for sale - I bought a bunch of 15-minute tapes just before FAWM so I'd have good stock for the four-track challenge from here:

    They worked out cheaper than consumer-type tapes with the added benefit of no brand names printed on them etc.

  • @vomvorton  Mar 24

    For small runs of tape it's probably worth just going for the higher quality ones as there won't be a huge cost difference unless you're buying quite a few (I opted for the best quality ones anyway because four-track recording can mean a lot of re-records etc).

    Bandcamp lets you generate download codes which you can print off / write onto the artwork for your tape which gives the buyer the option of having a high-quality version as well as the cassette, which is always a bonus - some of the duplication places provide this too, but I like the way Bandcamp lets you build up a digital collection that you can access on different devices (and I just generally love Bandcamp!)

    I generally like the sound of tape but I think it suits some genres better than others (hip-hop, electronic, experimental particularly good, anything softer, folk etc. probably less so as any hiss / noise will be more obvious).

  • @vomvorton  Mar 24

    I didn't get as far as figuring out whether a different mastering approach would be necessary for tape - that's a good question and I'll defer to anyone with actual mastering experience.

    As for selling them, I'd probably have made them available through Bandcamp again as I don't perform live much any more, but I do think tapes are a perfect sell-at-a-show type item - small enough to port around easily, more interesting to the consumer than a CD-R or something like that, and the download code option makes sure they're still viable for somebody without a tape player.

    That said, so many people have ditched their tape decks now that it's quite easy to pick up a high-end one on eBay etc. - I got rid of mine a while back, then picked up a much better one for a ridiculously low price when tapes started cropping up again. That's probably the best option for personal duplication too, if your old stereo doesn't cut it.

    Anyway, hope some of that is helpful. I think tapes are cool.

  • @ustaknow Mar 24

    Hey splitty -

    This made me look up an old format DAT (not on the timeline above) and this came up.

    It's why you can't get a "straight" ans on this stuff and like it for the 5 min it is. Right around 4min +- he speaks to "emotional" connection.

    What's possibly interesting is, if you ever "Busk" or etc., - that emotional connection may get someone to buy a Tape, but not CD, or even, - pay $20 for it not $3-5 but cost you less (if home made).

    It's why I love BandCamp, (rabbit trail), you can sell one-album for $5 and make far more than a "major" label streaming copies from, e.g., Amazon where you may get paid 0.01/copy

    As someone close to me just said to someone and ear shot away, - "do it" 'cause you love it; and if it hits, it hits, if not, so what? What else you gonna do with you time, Coke and Bullet Rye? 😀 - kick the dog and beat your kids?

    Ahhh, perspective.

    Anyway, I'm gonna check those great UK links! UK trades allot and usually OK - we'll see post Brexit 😝 I don't see Euros there 😀 (they never did EU's)

    I think, imo/ime, if you have a local music niche? - there are local markets with goto guys - and e.g., someone who'd press/dup 20.

    For example, I purchased a Birthday Card in the Shop Rite Groc Store the other day $4.99 and had a 45rpm single in it - for 4.99! on the Card Rack next to the Lettuce 😀

    Heck, when Jack bought that vinyl press he probably paid Scrap Weight for it, or the Mobile Unit he put out. I post an article here some time ago or 5090, - a special he sponsored. It ran w/o elec with a ~90lb (?) weight that took ~3min (?) to reach bottom and Cut, 1-vinyl to Master from 😝

    You could "waste" allot of time with this 😀 hahhh! All good stuff!

  • @ustaknow Mar 24

    @vomvorton that's a cool site 😀 - blast from the past and interesting helpful page there 😝

    They even have a "used" tape market, - I love it! 😀

    - Are certain regions in UK more "music" focused? I get some things I can't get anywhere else, seems like from Oxfordshire area (what I'd call N. London area). Your tape source, and says is for *local bands etc. is at what I call 😀 mid-island. I'm just curious since started clicking links and fell into a rabbit hole, looking-glass 😀

    We have certain "infamous" regions, USA - but stuff comes from anywhere these days.

  • @eargoggle  Mar 28

    Hey @splittybooms and everyone, don't really have time for a full response here but yes, I did start a cassette label- Very Special Recordings ( a couple years ago and have released I think 18 tapes so far, mostly all Brooklyn bands and collaborations. I started it really as a way to release my own Eargoggle music (much of which I started here at FAWM!) and then released other bands.
    There is a *small* (and i really emphasize "small") underground scene for cassette releases; a lot of punk bands and a lot of experimental/noise music mostly, though that's not what I put out on the label. I've got maybe 10 record stores around the country who carry some of our cassettes. Sales are mostly in the double digits to give you an idea.
    A couple things-
    Most cassette releases come with an MP3 card for download, so a lot of people buy them who don't even have a cassette player, it's just kind of a cool tangible thing to go along with the normal MP3.
    Why rele

  • @eargoggle  Mar 28

    @guatecoop thanks!! right back at you!!

  • @splittybooms  Mar 28

    Hey all, THANK YOU for the info and insights. I will reply more in depth later, but @eargoggle you got cut off on your second point I think you were about to make. Interested to see what else you have to say.
    A lot of great insight here.
    To @johnstaples and @chipwithrow, I want to do a few cassettes simply cause I think its cool. I have fond memories of tapes, even down to the way they felt in my hand and the satisfying sheen that the cases had. The aesthetic factors in for me. I'm not concerned about sound quality, practicality, or anything else that makes sense haha
    I just wanna do it cause I wanna do it.

  • @splittybooms  Mar 28

    @ustaknow - I know all too well about the 'don't tell people too much''ll come back to bite you in the rear often in one way or another. Besides my FAWM fam, I got one cuz that knows about my tape plan. I don't really discuss music with friends/family cause they don't care. So I avoid that whole situation of people thinking I should/shouldn't do this/that.
    And that's a good idea - to dup a master tape; but I also like the idea of making each tape from the digital master. Gotta dig my stereo out... Already ordered a few new high bias tapes off ebay, and I got a couple old tapes in a box that I'm first gonna see if my music will sound good on.
    I appreciate those of you who DO give away the "secrets"... Thankfully, I've only dealt with people (here and in person) who ARE willing to give up the goods. But I'm fully aware of those that withold...and I gots nothing against them.
    Heh, make my own tape producing thing...nah, I'll leave that up to folks like @eargoggle haha

  • @splittybooms  Mar 28

    Thanks for the tapeline link @vomvorton...that's interesting, as I would need shorter than 60 min tapes I guess since I'm only doing a 7 song EP-ish type thing. I've found some online resources myself (links escape me), but yeah they do all that you mention - artwork, cases, custom tapes, etc. Gonna just see about the artwork, j-card, and cases...real entry level stuff since I'm just doing this for fun. And yeah, I tend to distribute through personal website is in hiatus and I don't have any local places that sell tapes that I know of. I'll try a few different mixes to see how they change when transferred to tape; I've seen some stuff about frequencies that don't come through on tapes, so I gotta see what happens.
    Yeah, @ustaknow, the emotional thing is kinda behind all this - my memories with tapes, some of the stuff behind my music and the reasons I make it sound the way it does (some of the retro stuff I put in), etc...all childhood memory stuffs.
    I'm seeing a lo

  • @splittybooms  Mar 28

    I'm seeing a lot of mentions (here and elsewhere) that rock/indie bands put stuff on tape...and a only a couple references to electronic/hip-hop/etc stuff being released on tape now. As a kid, I used to sneak and rummage through my uncle's thousands of tapes and listen. Nothing was more satisfying than popping one in and hearing some mega boomy but somehow soft-edged bass carrying some great hip-hop, or discovering Parliament and Funkadelic for the first time...Isley Bros...The Whispers... It ALL sounded great. If nobody but me pays for these tapes, I'm good. I just want my music on a tape. ...I just want it.

  • @vomvorton  Mar 28

    @splittybooms the UK-based music website The Quietus has a monthly column that reviews new tape releases and the stuff they cover tends to be more at the electronic / experimental end of the spectrum. But I don't know how representative that is of releases as a whole:

  • @eargoggle  Mar 28

    Oops! I didn't even notice it got cut off, I think what I was saying was-
    Why release something on tape? Mostly because it's cheap and you can do small runs of 100 or even less. So that is sort of freeing to put out stuff that I'm not sure is going to sell, because I'm not going to lose that much money (and we are in the business of not losing too much money, lol!). If I did that with a vinyl release, which I'd love to do, I'd be out 3-$K for a release that didn't do well.
    Another reason I personally like tapes is that they more or less force you to listen to the whole album in sequence, and being old school (old fart?), I like that.
    I'm happy to share any more thoughts or all the contacts I have from doing this if anyone wants to release something, either here or hit me up on email. I can't remember what else I typed!

  • @johnstaples  Mar 28

    @splittybooms "I just wanna do it cause I wanna do it."

    And that is the best reason of all! Good luck with the project!

  • @zecoop  Mar 28

    +1 for everything @eargoggle said...
    And +1 for what you said @splittybooms 👍👍

    I say go for it!

  • @jwhanberry  Mar 29

    I just realized that if I buy a cassette deck for this, I can listen to all my Shrapnel Records tapes too. Zooooom!

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