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Why We Are Stopping Doing Digital Only Releases


We've done maybe a dozen digital only releases, and though some great music has come from them, there are many reasons we don't want to do them anymore. They aren't very interesting as a format, for one: apart from convenience and ease, it is hard to get inspired from a download. And we aren't the only ones who feel that way: blogs, podcasts, and magazines tend to ignore digital-onlies, and from that we conclude that they, too, are not inspired by them.

But the most compelling reason hit me several months ago when I posted on Facebook the now-regrettable comment "why would anyone release a cassette?". Sometimes you post dumb things on Facebook and that is a good example as any.

It took Daniel Myer to make me realize how awesome cassettes are, when, after giving him the Haujobb "New World March" 2LP, he brushed it aside quickly and snapped up the "Dead Market" cassette with an eagerness I rarely see. It was the start of a realization that this format is actually pretty cool.



The realization was bolstered by this article on Noisey, as well as the several articles it links to. The medium is the message, and it's hard to ignore the influence the cassette has had on the noise and punk scenes, nevermind the early days of minimal synth and black metal. It became impossible for me to ignore, and though I knew and still know that it's hard to sell even 50 copies of a cassette nowadays, I realized that I got into electronic music because of cassettes: Front By Front, KMFDM's Money, basically the entire Skinny Puppy collection, as well as music from Severed Heads, The Grapes of Wrath and Moev all came to me on cassette.

And there was the chilling and heart-stopping statement about Skinny Puppy's Back & Forth cassette that still for some reason fills me with awe: "Initially planned to be a limited edition of 50 copies, although only 35 copies were officially made (15 hand dubbed, 20 high speed dubbed)."

As Noisey points out, it's the sheer speed of manufacturing and affordability of cassettes that make them so compelling to new artists and small labels... and that's when it hit me that there doesn't need to be digital-only releases. Every digital-only can also have at least a cassette version. Perhaps they won't be purchased for listening, perhaps they are just ornamental. But in that case, put them in the same class as keychains and hoodies: items that you connect with because they are artist-branded. And after all the cost of a cassette is the same as a download, so it's really just a download-release, plus something else.

That said, I hope a few of you actually take off the plastic and listen to these things. They're pretty darn special.

You can purchase the Dead When I Found Her "Fingerprints Volume 1" cassette here.