I always enjoy logging onto The Onion. Its faux news stories are wicked funny. Their specialty is satirical stories that seem vaguely plausible, but of course are completely bogus. Occasionally, people actually believe Onion stories. Recent Onion tweets reported that armed Congressmen were taking schoolchildren hostage and demanding $12 trillion in cash. Responding quickly — in real life, not the Onion — U.S. Capitol police said that the story had “no credibility” because lawmakers were on vacation. And, they are “investigating the reporting.” Draw any conclusions you want.
So, when I read an article in USA Today proclaiming that cassette tapes are making a comeback, I thought I had logged onto The Onion by mistake. Cassettes? Seriously? USA Today quotes a source who says, “A growing number of indie bands are turning to the format to get their music out more quickly and inexpensively. . . from a musicmaker standpoint, I love it because they are very inexpensive to make.” In particular, the turnaround for cassettes can be “as quick as two or three weeks.”
Right. Got it. Making tapes is faster and cheaper than sending an MP3 file.
With hard-hitting journalistic rigor, the paper supports its argument with hard-hitting statistics. Music-related cassette album sales rose 46% from last year, with a whopping 22,000 sold last year.
Whoa! That certainly confirms the comeback! 22,000 cassettes per year works out to a staggering 60 tapes every day! Jeez! Clearly, cassettes are soon going to overtake iTunes' puny 400,000 song downloads per day. What's next? Apps on cassettes?
How about the playability of cassettes? One singer/guitarist quoted in the article notes that “Everyone has tape players lying around. . . and everyone will find a way to listen to it.”
Umm. I don‘t think so.
USA Today readers were not impressed. As one reader responded, “This is fantastic!! I don't currently have a cassette player, but I sent a telegram out to an old college friend and he sent one back saying he still had one and would send it to me via Pony Express! I should receive it possibly as soon as February! I'm just hoping some of these cassettes will be available through this winter's Sears and Roebuck catalog. I must shoe the horses at once and scurry to the town drug store to inquire!”
Responding swiftly to the story, Capitol police have launched a full investigation.
Ken C. Pohlmann is well known as an audio educator, consultant, and author. He is a professor emeritus at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, and the author of numerous articles and books, including Principles of Digital Audio and Master Handbook of Acoustics.
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.