Cassette single

Cassette single

Infobox media
name = Cassette single

caption = Two U.S. cassette singles and their cardboard slipcases: Donald Fagen's "Century's End" (1988) and the Rolling Stones' "Mixed Emotions" (1989)
type = magnetic tape
encoding = analog signal
capacity = generally less than 10 minutes total (2-3 songs), sometimes repeated on both sides
read = tape head
write =
standard =
owner =
use = audio playback
extended from =
extended to =
A cassette single (CS, also known by the trademark "Cassingle" or capitalized as the trademark "Cassette Single") is a music single in the form of a Compact Cassette. The first commercial release of a cassette single appears to have been the Go-Gos' song "Vacation" b/w "Beatnik Beach" by I.R.S. Records, which trademarked the "Cassingle" name, in 1982, although the recording industry resisted the format. [Capitol & Columbia tried several cassette singles in 1984-1986.] The format was finally introduced on a wide scale in 1987, when vinyl record album sales were declining in favor of cassette recordings; the cassette single was meant to replace the 45 record in a similar way. [ [ CASSETTE SINGLES: NEW 45'S - New York Times ] ]

Originally, most cassette singles were released in a cardboard sleeve that slipped over the outside of the release. This was then usually shrink wrapped in plastic. Some singles contained one song on each side, much as 45s had done, but others repeated the songs on both sides. In some markets, cassette singles generally used the same packaging as standard cassettes, a plastic box with a paper insert.

As the cassette maxi-single was released, more intricate packaging was incorporated that looked similar to the packaging of a regular cassette release. These were placed in regular plastic cassette cases with a paper/cardstock insert. Unlike a full-length cassette album, these were generally only one two-sided inlay instead of a fold-out. Maxi-singles usually contained 4 versions ofa single song, ie: unique mixes & edits, but some contained versions of 2 different songs.

Although the cassette had reached a high level of popularity by the late 1980s, due to the ubiquity of mobile devices such as the Sony Walkman, the boombox and car audio cassette players, cassette singles never eclipsed gramophone records to the same extent as cassette albums had done.

Cassette Singles around the world


In Australia, cassette singles were popular until the late 1990s. Australian cassette singles suffered from a lack of packaging and design when compared to their UK or European counterparts. Record companies such as Virgin and EMI would use a standard design for all releases, which featured a square copy of the vinyl artwork on the cover and standard typography and record company logos on the inlay card. Rear cover artwork was not used. CBS/epic released some cassingles in maxi single configuration, especially popular for Michael Jackson, and these had up to 40 minutes of remixes on each side, and full back and front cover artwork.

United Kingdom

The first cassette single in the UK was released in 1978, with the song "Howard Hughes" by The Tights. The ZTT label made good use of the format by 1984, with singles by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Art of Noise and Propaganda being issued in unique versions on cassette.

The BPI began recording sales of cassette singles in 1987, and they were first made eligible in the UK Singles Chart in 1989, due to the song "Hand On Your Heart" by Kylie Minogue selling enough on the format to make her debut at number 1 in the chart (something no female had ever done at the time) combined with vinyl and CD sales, but instead entering at number 2 due to the format not being eligible. The rules were quickly changed so that they were included in sales. They were sold as a low-cost alternative to CD singles, sold alongside the CD version, but at a somewhat lower price (often £2.29 compared to £3.99 for the CD), and often with fewer "bonus" tracks.

The peak year of cassette singles was 1995, when 22 million were sold - 32% of all singles on all formats released that year, and a weekly average of just under 400,000 shipped. They continued selling steadily for the rest of the 1990s, but by the beginning of the 2000s many forms of prerecorded audio cassettes were being phased out, and sales rapidly dropped from 20 million in 1999 to under 1 million in 2003, after which they were no longer stocked by most retailers. In June 2004 the BPI announced that not a single one had been reported as shipped in the first quarter of the year.

However, it is still an eligible format for the chart and still occasionally sells. Music Week announced in February 2005 that 22 had sold in one week, and in January 2008 it reported that 715 were sold in the year 2007, a 45% increase from the previous year.

United States

Bryan Adams' "Heat of the Night" b/w "Another Day" was released as a cassette single by A&M Records on March 13, 1987, making it the first to be released in the U.S. after the industry had agreed to introduce the format on a wide scale and to begin phasing out the production of 45-rpm singles. In contrast to the earlier Go-Go's single, which was packaged in a regular cassette box, the Bryan Adams single was issued in a unique outer snap-open soft black plastic case with a red colored cassette shell. This case was not used on later single issues and most companies issued them in the new low-cost cardboard slipcase packaging with only one or two opting for the regular type cassette box.


In Norway, cassette singles were introduced in 1981 with the experimental release of four singles that already were hits as vinyl singles. The format did not take hold.

The Netherlands

In The Netherlands, Cassette Singles were introduced in 1991 to tackle the fall in singles sales for both vinyl and CD formats. All major record companies worked together to ensure all major titles would be released on CD, vinyl and cassette simultaneously. Also, every cassette single carried the same artwork and special logo.

However, the format did not catch on, due to the increasing popularity of the CD single after 1992. Hence the cassette single was quietly withdrawn from the Dutch market at the end of 1992. The Dutch publich had never shown much interest for compact cassettes, anyway. Even during its heyday in the 1980s, sales of cassettes were only a small percentage (never higher than 5%) of the total record sales in The Netherlands.


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