Music cassette (1965 – 2003)

Music cassettes (Musicassettes or MC for short) were Compact Cassettes used for pre-recorded music distribution.

Pre-recorded music cassettes were available in Europe from 1965, initially through the Philips Record Company, and as fidelity improved they became one of the predominant formats for pre-recorded music between the late 1970s and early 1990s. The Advent 201 introduced in 1971 was the first Compact Cassette recorder to use Dolby type B noise reduction and chromium dioxide (CrO2) tape, resulting in the format being taken more seriously for music use, and starting the era of high fidelity cassettes and players

By the late 1970s, music cassettes supplanted the 8-Track as the main in-car entertaiment format, and in the 1980s, its popularity grew as a portable music format with the introduction of personal stereo systems based on the Sony Walkman. Sales of music cassettes overtook those of LPs in 1984.

Between 1985 and 1992, the music cassette was the most popular format in the UK for album sales, and cassette singles were introduced to compete against the 7-inch single, but were not as successful.

Around 1992, sales of music cassettes were overtaken by the Compact Disc, and this was also the year that sales of music cassettes peaked. By 2001, music cassettes accounted for just 4% of pre-recorded music sales, with most major US music companies discontinuing by the end of 2003.

Cassettes remained popular for in-car entertainment audio into the 2000s, as cassettes and their players were typically more rugged and resistant to dust, heat, and shocks than Compact Disc, but the reduction of in-car noise levels, the general heightening of consumer expectations meant that during the 2000s, the CD player replaced the cassette player as the default audio component in the majority of new vehicles in Europe and America.

In recent years, music cassettes have seen a small revival with some independent record labels issuing releases in this format due to its low cost and the difficulty in sharing tape music over the internet.

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