I have a rack of ancient cassettes in the garage that I once listened to in the car. Right next to them is a series of carefully-crafted CD-Rs burned with music designed for certain situations. Mixtapes used to be a big thing, especially with cassettes. First you selected the music. Then you decided in which order the songs should run. Then you recorded the music in real time. A 90 minute mixtape required almost two hours of your undivided attention.
Today we have playlists. Provided you have all the music ripped, they’re quick and easy to assemble. And although they live on our computers and MP3 players, sharing them with a worldwide audience is a snap thanks to streaming music services like Rdio and Spotify. This has some old-school people lamenting the death of the mixtape–or at least the art of creating the perfect one. Even Forbes has a point of view on this.
I’ve been hearing rumors that the cassette tape is making a comeback. First vinyl, now this. Can 8-tracks be far behind? Probably not. 8-tracks are like Betamax and ET for Atari: things that newer generations only know of as punchlines to jokes. And really, the cassette comeback isn’t about music at all, but science. Still I can almost get behind a cassette comeback, for purely nostalgic purposes. Because if you’re like most people who spent any amount of time sticking pencils in the holes of a cassette to wind them up after the tape came loose, just looking at an old cassette can make you pine for the days of the mix tape.