Depending on your knowledge of music consumption trends and familiarity with the company, this news will either be totally incomprehensible or completely predictable: Urban Outfitters has announced it will start selling cassettes, as well as vintage cassette players in which to play them.
The cassette revival has been going on for several years, so Urban is coming in a bit late to the game. It's hard to say exactly when the movement kicked off though. When Atlanta band Deerhunter released a limited edition version of their album On Platts Eyott Island on the format seven years ago, Pitchfork greeted the news with a surprising, "Uh…"
By 2011, USA Today was noting that cassette sales through the first half of the year were up 46%. That was also the first instance of what eventually became many major news outlets discovering Steven Stepp, the folksy owner of the Missouri-based manufacturer of most cassette tapes circulating today.
"Four years ago, most people thought the audiocassette was finished," Stepp, owner of National Audio Company, told the Wall Street Journal's Lauren Rudser. "It's our well kept secret that it never was."
A year later, Nielsen and Billboard began counting them in their annual tally of music sales.
The tapes truly came (back) into their own when a group of indie-leaning music types launched Cassette Day to follow in the heels of the highly successful Record Store Day.
Urban has had an extremely successful run riding the well-known vinyl revival — it recently claimed to be the country's No. 1 seller of the format, although Billboard seemed to debunk this — so it's no surprise they would try to capitalize on the magnetic trend. Their announcement comes just days before this year's Cassette Day, Oct. 17. It's worth noting that the second-best-selling item at last year's Record Store Day was Metallica's cassette demo tape of its debut album "No Life 'Til Leather."
You can see the selection of Urban's cassette-oriented wares here — they include this $38 player
And this $60 boombox:
We can't wait to see CDs come back.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.