A cassette single of “Free As A Bird”, signed by George Harrison is on the market (again).
An autographed copy of the single ‘Free as a Bird’, with cover artwork by John Lennon, cassette format, inscribed on the inlay “To Keith – All the Best George Harrison”. Fine, in custom-made felt-lined collector’s box with gilt titles to spine. “Free as a Bird” was the first new music to be released in twenty-five years, as part of the Beatles Anthology project, and taken from the “Anthology 1” triple album. The song had been written and recorded as a demo by John Lennon in 1977, and all three remaining Beatles added their parts at Paul McCartney’s Sussex studio in 1994. The record was co-produced by ELO’s Jeff Lynne who had recently worked with George Harrison as part of The Traveling Wilburys. Provenance; Ex Bonhams, Rock n Roll Memorabilia, Sale no.11386 (2004). This time, the asking price is £750,-.
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.
American record companies began releasing cassette singles on a large 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. 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.
In the UK, the peak year of cassette singles was 1995, when 22 million were sold – 32% of all singles on all formats released that year. 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.
Here 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 Beatles singles collection, released both on vinyl, 3″ CD-singles, as well as 5″ CD-singles, were also released as cassingles in 1991. A number of solo singles by former Beatles were also cassingles, most notably those by Paul McCartney and the Traveling Wilburys, whose career coincided with the rise of cassingles.