Posted by: TomA | 25 October 2010

RIP Walkman

Sony announced today that they were stopping production of the cassette Walkman. Sad times. I fondly remember getting my first one and revelling in being able to listen to (the same 90 minutes of) music while on the bus to school every day, without being subjected to the dross on local radio. When that one got dropped and started chewing up mixtapes I’d made, a shiny new one was purchased and looked after with the utmost care. It’s been interesting to see the reaction – there’s an overwhelming number of people who seem to have a soft spot for the cassette format and the walkman.

The timing is interesting, as I’ve noticed a few new cassette labels popping up recently (not least my own, Fika Recordings, which’ll be on your walkman in February). The ease of hand producing small runs of cassettes and being a step away from the sometimes soulless experience of digital media is what’s sent me down this route, and are probably the driving factors of many others too. Of course, tapes had flaws. I remember the distress having spent evenings making mixtapes recorded direct from the radio, where timing was crucial, and then weeks later having the tape chewed up and destroyed by a rogue cassette player. But at the same time, this is what I feel makes them precious. The deterioration and hiss from a well listened-to cassette is still a comforting sound, akin to the warm crackle of favourite record. And its this connection with music that is important (to me, at least). I can download vast amounts of music and fail to connect with the majority of it. It’s the records and tapes I often bought on a whim that I come back to, scouring sleeve notes and artwork.

I still love the tangibility of physical media – whether it was an early 90s chart cassette that I saved my pocket money up for weeks in order to buy from Woolworths, or a 3″ indiepop cassette that I know someone has spent considerable time hand producing with love and care. It draws you in, connects you to the back story, the process, the people. This is why I’m sad to see the cassette walkman disappear, and this is why I’m excited to start a cassette label.

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Responses

  1. […] My tea drinking partner in crime, TomA mourns the end of the walkman, just as he’s about to launch a cassette only record […]


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