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.

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