The “Spotify” of the 60’s by Omri Meron -
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The “Spotify” of the 60’s

  • Joined Dec 2021
  • Published Books 2

The 60’s Music. What comes to mind when you hear or see that phrase? Is it The Beatles? Is it Dylan? Janis Joplin? Or is it just another decade for you?


Well, when talking about music, and particularly music of the 60’s, you HAVE to have an answer, I mean c’mon. There’s so much good music in this decade! In many genres too, so many that in my opinion it’s very hard to choose a favorite, if I had to.


Fortunately, I don’t have to! (it’s MY book, is it not?) So, I won’t, not in this book anyway, but instead I want to present a thought to you, or more specifically, a question.


We’ve agreed that the 60’s was an amazing decade for music lovers, and it also was a very good decade for technology to advance and improve.


Many inventions and devices that were first invented during the 60’s are still being used to these very days.
From computer’s memory (DRAM) to ATMs, to LEDs and Kevlar, to Telstar (the first commercial satellite), there is absolutely no doubt that this decade was a good one for technology too.


(I know that Star Wars movies came much later but this satellite looks very much like the Death Star from the movies, right? maybe this one was their inspiration for its design, who knows).

The “Spotify” of the 60’s by Omri Meron -

Back to cassettes.

This great invention, that formally its name is “Compact Cassette” or “Musicassette”, was developed by Lou Ottens and his team in the Dutch company Phillips in Hasselt, Belgium, and was introduced to the world in 1963.

It came in 2 forms: a cassette that is already containing a recorded data, or an empty one that can save a recorded data, later. Both forms had 2 sides and could be reversible by the user.



The “Spotify” of the 60’s by Omri Meron -

First thing first, what exactly is it?
Well, I’m sure you have used one when you were younger or at least heard about it somewhere, but if you don’t then no worries, I’m here to explain.

A Musicassette, or simply ‘tape’ or ‘cassette’, is “an analog magnetic tape recording format for audio recording and playback” (Wikipedia).
Simply, it’s an easy way to record music and play the over and over, a way of “saving” music, if you would like.

Yes, this was kind of like an old version of Spotify, 60’s style.


I won’t dive in of its functionality here, it’s not what this book’s about!
But for those of you who insist on knowing more about it (nerds!), here is a nice video explaining all about it (not the best video quality though):



When the cassettes were introduced to the public, Philips also offered a device to play and record them, which was called Philips Typ EL 3300.


Here is a nice video of how these cassettes are made:




The “Spotify” of the 60’s by Omri Meron -

Of course, that this machine was improved over the years. These cassettes, along with the cassettes players were so successful that by 1968, 85 manufactures had sold over 2.4 million players, and by the end of the 60’s the cassette business was worth approximately 150 million dollars.


Before the compact cassette, audio recording, for personal use was very difficult to be done, bulky and required prior training and learning to do.
So almost only professionals in radio did it, until the compact cassette arrived.


The compact cassette was revolutionary because it gave anyone the ability to record tracks of themselves. Not only were your favorite audio tracks and songs available, but you could create your own mixtape to give to a friend or a sweetheart, you could record yourself for your own use, like an audio personal diary (Yes, exactly like those nature adventurers from old movies. Well, it wasn’t old in the 60’s!).
You could even make a “homemade” podcast, 60’s style.


There wasn’t simply an “add to playlist” button like we have today. Not to mention that when you were done listening to a single tape, if you wanted to listen to it again, you literally had to set it all the way back to the beginning of the tape.

And no, they didn’t have daily auto-made daily mixes and suggestion like those in Spotify or Apple Music nowadays, and yes, it was all real plastic buttons and spinning parts with no touch screens or voice-controlled systems. You know, OLD SCHOOL style.


The interesting part, in my opinion, that although it first came to the world in the 60’s, and had very vast usage then, the peak of cassettes usage around the globe wasn’t in the 60’s but the 70’s and the 80’s. The cassette’s popularity grew during these years because of being a more effective, convenient, and portable way of listening to music.


Yes, I’m talking about the boom boxes and the famous Sony’s Walkman. This caused the cassettes sales overtaking those of LPs during the 80’s, 20 years after it was invented! And it still was very much popular until the 90’s, as the well knows CDs took over.


But, during the late 60’s, cassettes was very much used, as I mentioned earlier. The ability to record music or yourselves was new and although the first cassettes was a bit bulky, many people bought them.

Think about it, before them, yes vinyl was an easy and a good way to listen to music (even now), but you could’nt record yourself, or making your own mix of your favorite songs.
With cassettes, you could!

So music bands and artists realesed their music in 2 formats these days: vinyl records and cassettes. So, if you want to start a collection of The Beatles of your own, you need to choose vinyl or cassettes (or both, which is better).
I would choos vinyl records though, the sound quality is much better, I admit.


Nowadays, I’m sure you will agree that these cassettes are barely been used, or even seen, and when they do, they are probably sitting in a drawer, dusty and cracked without a way to play it. Today, collecting cassettes is more of a nostalgia thing or a hipster thing.


To sum up, there’s no doubt that cassettes dominated the 60’s-90’s era of music consumption (ok ok, alongside with vinyl records, but not less!). I think the way that we listen to music (in non-live ways), even today where it’s all digitalized, was very much influenced by cassettes.

Think about it, in music terms, What’s a CD but a fancy and improved cassette?

Let us sum it up in a classic way: The Beatles! But in a cassette format:


Let us sum it up in a classic way: The Beatles! But in a cassette format:



Unfortunately, as all good things, nothing lasts forever. Today you can absolutely say that cassettes had its time. But it was a helluva run, wasn’t it?


So next time you open your music app in your smartphone, don’t forget how it all began!

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