Cassette Tape Shortage Caused By Shortage Of Key Material

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019 |

A resource crunch is hitting cassette tape manufacturing. While cassettes are not a dominant force in physical music consumption, trailing CDs and vinyl, there is still a growing trend of consumers for the format. Sales rose by 23% in 2018. Now there is a problem trying to match that increased demand.

According to the National Audio Company, the largest audiocassette tape manufacturer in the United States, there is a shortage of gamma ferric oxide, the most common material used for magnetic recording.

In a letter from the NAC to its customers, seen by Pitchfork, they note that the only factory that creates gamma ferric oxide has been under renovation for the much of the year and thus lowered output. They have only shipped two tons of the material this year, which has not been enough to fill orders on a 30-day schedule. They are waiting on back orders of 50 tons of gamma ferric oxide, which shows the extent of their shortage.

The NAC has been notified that they will get 11 tons this October, so some of the back ordered cassette tapes should be filled then. The factory hopes to be back up to normal operation by the end of the year.

The increased popularity of cassettes seems to have caught the music business off guard, unable to produce the amount of materials demanded for it. Just like there have been bottlenecks with vinyl production given that most plants closed years ago, cassettes may face this same concern unless new plants open.

Read the full letter below.

Get the latest news and updates.



I feel fortunate to have been part of the first-ever WMC. Over the 35 years, it has grown to give us an international forum where we exchange music and ideas. As an attendee and host of many of the award shows, I am proud each time I see new young talent emerge and then become world-renowned. We all have so many Winter Music Conference moments of hearing a seminal breakthrough record for the first time as well as a new DJ with star quality. Magical moments in my career.

Daniel Glass

Glassnote Records

I first went to WMC ’87, the year I started Big Beat. It was an incredibly inspiring congregation of indie labels, DJs, artists, songwriters, producers and dance music lovers dedicated to breaking and discovering new music. WMC has been instrumental in furthering the dance and electronic cause; keeping the community connected, vital and relevant, and serving as an amazing springboard for talent. It’s a fantastic crucible for the future of dance music. Long may it live.

Craig Kallman

CEO & Co-Chairman Atlantic Records, Founder Big Beat Records

If you want to know about our industry from the people that make it happen then go to WMC. It’s an accelerated masterclass in all things dance music.

Carl Cox

DJ/Intec Records

WMC is and has always been the lifeblood of the dance music scene. Never missed a year since ’96, I can’t imagine Amsterdam Dance Event or Ibiza Music Summit existing without the blueprint that WMC originated. Seeing this revived is absolutely essential to reunifying the North American scene surrounding electronic music and its fringes.

Tommie Sunshine

Producer/DJ/Activist/Netflix Host

Winter Music Conference is my ground zero. It has always provided the perfect storm of opportunity and excitement for up and coming artists, including myself back in 2003, where I first caught a glimpse of how it felt to have an audience respond to my work. Over the years, I’ve always made it a point to have WMC in my calendar because that’s the spot where everyone congregates and you can feel it in the air. Creativity, brother and sisterhood, FUN and most of all the chance to come together as a community and celebrate the reason we are all here—the music.”