Tuesday is for Tape Labels


Remember me, your pal Cassette Tape? Dust off your Walkman, because I'm back!

One of the biggest reasons I like college radio stations so much is because they broadcast music made by people I actually know and love and want to support with my hard-earned dollars.

One local tape label in Iowa that I enjoy purchasing from is Sweat Power Records. Run by the boys of Utopia Park, every tape is $5, and all six of the bands with current releases are full of marvelous songwriters and performers.

If the idea of a tape label still existing in this day and age is a foreign concept to you, get with the times! My friend Caitlin just wrote about the cassette tape’s comeback story this week, and she’s right! College kids, indie bands, and other genres of thrifty souls are bringing back the cassette because of one reason and one reason only: it’s dirt cheap.

When you can buy a 10-pack of tapes for $11.20 (with a discounted rate if you buy more than 10 tapes) and you can sell those tapes for $5 each… It’s easy to see how you’d pull in a decent profit.

Another more well-known tape label based in Iowa City is Night People Records. One of the label’s founders, Shawn Reed, has a room with tape decks piled high that his neighbors probably know nothing about. From that room comes tapes of some of the best noise and alternative music in America today, and not many people in the label’s hometown even know it! (For any unfamiliar Iowa Citians, Night People is having a showcase show on October 18th.)

I personally believe in tape labels because a) I am a poor college student and can’t afford CDs, but more importantly, b) I still like to support artists I can meet and have conversations with and whose music I believe in. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t want the majority of my $5 going to their tour manager or a corporate executive at a record label somewhere far away, while just a few pennies make their way back to the artist.

I love nothing more than to know—and physically see—that the $5 I just spent on a band’s cassette tape is going straight into their gas tank to propel them to the next venue they’re playing, or to get them new guitar picks…or, better yet, to buy them more cassettes.

What are your views on cassette tapes? Do you have a cassette player anymore? Do you think this comeback story will last?

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