By Pepi Cardenete
Madrid, Aug 16 (EFE).- Washed out red letters above a shop on a narrow street in central Madrid still hint at what used to be an old laundromat, but which has been replaced by a cassette-making boutique that sells a selection of retro paraphernalia.
“We record your music onto cassettes,” or “Up-to-date cassettes,” read some of the stickers displayed at the storefront, jammed with small tapes and artifacts from the 80s and 90s, when, after revolutionizing the music industry, the format’s popularity peaked before being toppled by the Compact Disc, itself eventually overthrown in the digital era.
But cassette tapes “never died,” says Luis Gonzalez, founder of the shop, which first opened in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic in September 2020.
The store invites customers to bring their own music – so long as they own the copyright or have permission to burn it in a tape – and leave with their custom-made cassette in about 24 hours.
The shop is furnished with two large Tapematic machines, weighing 220 kilograms and loaded with three kilometers worth of magnetic tape, sure to catch the eye of any curious visitors.
Gonzalez had to learn the tape-making ropes by trial and error, gradually getting to know the ins and outs of the machine, replacement parts for which are no longer in production and a headache to find.
“We get all sorts of customers. There’s the nostalgic, older people like me, who grew up and lived with this format, but also young people, who see it as something their parents or older siblings used,” he says. “I have had to show some people buying a Walkman how it even works, that it runs on batteries, how you insert the tape, how to rewind…”
The return of cassette tapes to the public eye, he says, just like vinyl records, comes down to people wanting to take a step back from the cold pragmatism of digital content, as well as the appeal of owning physical, hard copies, over intangible code sitting in a remote online server.
And, of course, nostalgia for the 80s and 90s. EFE