Why Your Old Cassette Tapes Might Be Worth Something

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A young girl listens to music on pink headphones
Jaroslaw Pawlak / Shutterstock.com

Move over, vinyl records: Cassette tapes are making a comeback.

The stores that still sell them even have their own day, celebrated on Oct. 17. This year marks the third annual International Cassette Store Day, and the celebration will include the release or re-release of music from dozens of artists on cassette.

Cassette stores aren’t the only ones profiting from the growing 21st-century demand for the 20th-century medium, though.

Cassette manufacturer National Audio Co. has seen a surge in demand for classic hits on cassette, NBC News reports.

The company’s president, Steve Stepp, tells NBC that audiophiles like “the warmth and presence” that analog recordings feature and digital recordings lack:

“When you compare the two side by side, you will hear the difference.”

Vinyl records — another analog medium — also have surged in popularity in recent years.

Bloomberg Business reports that National Audio Co., the largest of a few remaining cassette manufacturers, had its best year in 2014 since opening in 1969. It produced more than 10 million tapes in 2014 — on machines made in the 1970s — and sales are up 20 percent this year.

About 70 percent of NAC’s sales come from music cassettes — it has deals with major record labels and independent bands — with the rest coming from blank cassettes.

Stepp credits independent bands for sparking the renewed interest in cassettes, which has grown from there. And he credits that interest for his company’s growth, telling Bloomberg:

“Probably the thing that has really enlarged our business at a faster phase than anything is the retro movement. There’s the nostalgia of holding the audio cassette in your hand.”

If you have unwanted cassette tapes sitting around, check out eBay’s guide to selling them online, which was written last year.

Are you surprised that cassette tapes are making a comeback? Let us know what you think below or on Facebook.

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