Cassette culture  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Cassette culture refers to the trading of home-made audio cassettes, usually of rock or alternative music. The culture was in part an offshoot of the mail art movement of the 1970s and 1980s. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, it owed a lot to the DIY ethic of punk. In the UK cassette culture was at its peak in what is known as the post-punk period, 1978–1984; in the US, activity extended through the late 80s and into the 90s. It was largely postal-based (though there were a few retail outlets, such as Rough Trade in the UK) with the artists selling or more likely exchanging music on compact audio cassettes via a loose network of other artists and fanzine readers.

Several factors made the "cassette" boom occur. Obviously the recording format of the cassette tape was important. More significant, however, was the fact that bands did not need to go into expensive recording studios any longer. Multi-track recording equipment was becoming affordable, portable and of fairly high quality during the early 1980s. One could purchase a "four track" cassette recorder and get a reasonable sound at home. Therefore, due to inexpensive (or less expensive) recording and the ease of duplicating tape there was an increase of recording artists. Add to this the fact that college radio was coming into its own. For many years there were non-commercial college radio stations but now they had a new found freedom in format. With the influx of new music from sources other than the major record companies - and the quasi-major medium of college radio to lend support - the audio boom was on.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cassette culture" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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