BPI Says Cassette Sales Hit a ‘Near Decade High’ in 2022 — But Is This Just Another Blip?

BPI cassette sales
  • Save

BPI cassette sales
  • Save
Photo Credit: lilzidesigns

BPI says cassette sales hit a ‘near decade high’ in 2022, but is it just the result of increasing demand for vinyl?

Based on a new report from BPI utilizing Official Charts Company data, cassette sales grew for a tenth consecutive year in 2022, reaching annual totals not seen since 2003. This so-called “revival” of the audio cassette market is highlighted among other trends in the 44th BPI Yearbook: All About The Music 2023.

While sales of cassettes still pale in comparison to that of vinyl — having grown by 5.2% year-on-year to 195,000 units in 2022 — the format holds a significant role in the sales mix of some brand-new album releases. 

Cassettes account for over 10% of the chart sales of ten different No. 1 albums on the weekly Official Albums Chart, with some of these albums selling more copies on cassette than vinyl. In many cases, this is due to cassette versions appearing for sale when a vinyl release was unavailable, such as Central Cee’s 23, Digga D’s Noughty By Nature, and Blackpink’s Born Pink.

“For many of us growing up, cassettes were a rite of passage as we listened to our favorite artists,” says Sophie Jones, BPI Chief Strategy Officer and Interim CEO. “So it’s heartening that this once much-loved format is back in vogue, even if still a tiny part of music consumption overall.”

“Like vinyl, a number of contemporary artists are warmly embracing the cassette as another way to reach audiences, and on occasions, it has even helped them to achieve a No. 1 album,” Jones continues. “While streaming is by far the leading format, the renewed popularity of cassettes and vinyl highlights the continuing importance of the physical market and the many ways fans have to consume music.”

Arctic Monkeys had this year’s biggest-selling cassette with The Car, finishing ahead of Harry Styles’ Harry’s House, the top album across all formats. The top five cassette sellers were rounded out by Florence + The Machine’s Dance Fever, Muse’s Will of the People, and Central Cee’s 23. Artists including Blackpink (Born Pink), Machine Gun Kelly (Mainstream Sellout), Robbie Williams (XXV), and The 1975 (Being Funny In A Foreign Language) all finished in the year’s Top 10.

All but two of the Top 10 sellers saw more than 5,000 cassettes sold during the year, with 40 occasions in 2022 when an album sold over 1,000 cassettes during a single week — compared to only 34 titles doing similar numbers the previous year.

Even if the increase in cassette sales is due primarily to the demand for vinyl and the inability to meet that demand, a decade of growth for cassettes is a remarkable turnaround for a format that dominated between 1985 and 1992 before being overtaken by CD.