The cassette comeback continues: sales are at their highest in 15 years

We reveal the best-selling cassettes of the decade and of 2019 so far.

The unlikely comeback of the humble cassette continues to grow in 2019, with sales at their highest since 2004, OfficialCharts.com can reveal.

Spurred on by the vinyl revival, music buyers are steadily returning to the cassette for its retro appeal, collectability and its novelty value. The format’s return coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Sony Walkman this month, celebrated in a new exhibition at the Sony museum in Tokyo, which runs until September 1.

Sales remain small in the context of the overall music market according to music industry trade body the BPI, representing a miniscule 0.2% of albums sold in the UK this year, but sales are on a small-but-steady increase, so far up 112% year-on-year. The final quarter of 2018 was also the biggest for cassette sales in the UK since 2004 and so far in 2019 36,000 have been sold according to the BPI and Official Charts Company data.

Looking down the Top 20 best-sellers on the year to date below, it’s clear cassette sales favour those artists who have harnessed a fanbase of avid collectors, regardless of genre.

The current biggest is Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?. The cassette, which has sold 4,000 copies, was released in a variety of limited-edition colours: black, orange and UV green. Ironically, cassettes were considered all-but-defunct when 17-year-old Billie was born in 2001.


Cassette sales by calendar year since 2004

Other ‘big’ sellers this year are Catfish & The Bottlemen’s third album The Balance, Madonna’s Madame X, Kylie’s Step Back In Time and Lewis Capaldi’s chart-topping debut Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent.

MORE: The UK's Official Top 40 biggest albums of 2019 so far

Looking at the best-sellers of the decade (since 2010), The 1975 are on top with their 2018 Number 1 record A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, with 8,000 sales. Just over 7,000 of those sales were in its first week, making it the fastest-seller on the format since July 2002.

Another popular release is the Guardians Of The Galaxy soundtracks, which appear at 2 and 4 on the decade chart. Inspired by the films, the first collection of ‘80s classics was released in 2014, playing a significant role in spearheading the format’s return. They’ve sold 6,800 and 6,100 on cassette respectively.

Kylie Minogue is also a big seller on the vintage platform, shifting 6,300 tapes of her Number 1 album Golden. Following its initial release, Kylie also released a Collector's Edition and a Winter Collector's Edition on cassette. The singer’s recent chart-topping best of, Step Back In Time, places tenth.

The Official Top 20 best-selling cassettes in the UK since 2010

POSITION

TITLE

ARTIST

1

A BRIEF INQUIRY INTO ONLINE

1975

2

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY - AWESOME MIX 1

ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

3

GOLDEN

KYLIE MINOGUE

4

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY - AWESOME MIX 2

ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

5

WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO

BILLIE EILISH

6

THE BALANCE

CATFISH & THE BOTTLEMEN

7

MADAME X

MADONNA

8

NO TOURISTS

PRODIGY

9

SHE - THE BEST OF

CHARLES AZNAVOUR

10

STEP BACK IN TIME - THE DEFINITIVE

KYLIE MINOGUE

11

DIVINELY UNINSPIRED TO A HELLISH EXTENT

LEWIS CAPALDI

12

SWEETENER

ARIANA GRANDE

13

WASTELAND BABY

HOZIER

14

HAPPINESS BEGINS

JONAS BROTHERS

15

BLOSSOMS

BLOSSOMS

16

RIPPLES

IAN BROWN

17

MAPPING THE RENDEZVOUS

COURTEENERS

18

DELTA

MUMFORD & SONS

19

SUCKER PUNCH

SIGRID

20

143

BARS & MELODY

 

The Official Top 20 best-selling cassettes in the UK of 2019 so far

POSITION

TITLE

ARTIST

1

WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO

BILLIE EILISH

2

THE BALANCE

CATFISH & THE BOTTLEMEN

3

MADAME X

MADONNA

4

STEP BACK IN TIME - THE DEFINITIVE

KYLIE MINOGUE

5

DIVINELY UNINSPIRED TO A HELLISH EXTENT

LEWIS CAPALDI

6

WASTELAND BABY

HOZIER

7

HAPPINESS BEGINS

JONAS BROTHERS

8

RIPPLES

IAN BROWN

9

SUCKER PUNCH

SIGRID

10

SHINE A LIGHT

BRYAN ADAMS

11

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY - AWESOME MIX 1

ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

12

THE VERSACE EXPERIENCE PRELUDE 2 GOLD

PRINCE

13

MY HAPPY PLACE

EMMA BUNTON

14

THANK U NEXT

ARIANA GRANDE

15

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY - AWESOME MIX 2

ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

16

FATHER OF THE BRIDE

VAMPIRE WEEKEND

17

FALSE ALARM

TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB

18

A BRIEF INQUIRY INTO ONLINE

1975

19

AMO

BRING ME THE HORIZON

20

BIG BAD

GIGGS