By Patrick Prince
Around the time of Cassette Store Day, (October 12 of this year), it was reported that there had been a slowdown in cassette tape production (specifically because of a shortage of magnetic pigment). However, since then the claim has been disputed. Goldmine asked CEO Jean-Luc Renou of RecordingTheMasters (RTM) about the reported slowdown. RTM (owned by Mulann Industries) is reported to be the worldwide leader in reel-to-reel tape manufacturing (and also the manufacturer of the FOX C-60 cassette, pictured above).
Why the report on an audio tape production slowdown?
We are not aware of any slowdown. We have been producing for many years an increasing quantity of audio tapes that recording studios are using for music and their feedback has been consistently positive!
For us there has been no problem. Here on Mulann’s end, we as a chemical company have been in the business of supplying this magnetic pigment for upwards of 25 years – we have several suppliers and we are not suffering from any shortage.
For those who don’t know, what is RecordingTheMasters (RTM) all about and how can the company circumvent this problem?
RecordingTheMasters (RTM) is all about keeping alive the torch of analog audio for future generations. We are proud to be one of the few brands out there producing brand-new, high quality tape for both reel-to-reel recorders and cassettes.
Mulann is the company that is behind the brand RTM and wields more than 25 years of know-how and veteran experience in the tape business. We are the proud forebearers of the legendary BASF-AGFA formulations that were renowned for their quality for several decades. As such we have several suppliers for magnetic pigment and our experience has allowed many studios to keep using reel-to-reel audio tapes for their recording sessions. Rather than combating a shortage of magnetic pigment, our only concern today is to provide the highest quality audio tapes we can provide and to maintain the consistency in our standards of production.
Your opinion on why audio cassette sales are increasing so quickly?
There are many reasons – we could speak about that for hours. Some of the few that jump out to me immediately are that they have a vintage quality, are portable, and like vinyl records or polaroid cameras a wave of nostalgia has brought on a resurgence in sales. The cassette that we offer today is done with the utmost attention to quality. Our success with this cassette is evident in the fact that an increasing number of duplication companies have selected our FOX C-60 tape to produce recorded cassettes. More generally, the resurgence of interest is not only in the sound – but also tied to innate desires like holding a tactile, physical object and being true owners of the music.
What makes RTM’s FOX C-60 cassette superior quality?
The painstaking care that we have taken in developing and producing this cassette is what is responsible for the superior quality. It is based off of our SM900 formulation, one of our most popular ones. As an example, Jimi Hendrix made all of his major recordings on this tape formula.
Go through the quality difference, in your opinion, in the formats of reel-to-reel, cassette and 8-track tape.
Reel-to-reel is of course the ultimate quality; cassette is a lo-fi version of that but still very good for the price. When we speak about quality it is important to remember that, while the tape production is an important part of the equation, in the case of pre-recorded material being sold the quality of the recording, the replication, and the device being used for playback are important factors in the quality of the final listening experience. Under our brand we strive to work with and partner with pros and people that promote the highest quality for analog music.
Talk a little about RTM’s recent partnership with Dala Records.
Our partnership started earlier this year after connecting with Billy Austik, the owner of Dala Records. He shares our passion for analog recording and music production. We interviewed him and featured him in our ongoing series of professionals in the analog world. We enjoyed learning from him and were proud to support a young and extremely knowledgable sound engineer and musician like himself. We were therefore very excited to collaborate on releasing a mixtape on cassette this year.
Our presence here in the United States is headquartered in Brooklyn and we also felt very proud to be doing our part to support the local music scene, as Dala Records is based just a few subway stops away from our office in Brooklyn.
Your opinion on Cassette Store Day, especially this year's event.
Personally, I was in New York for CSD this year and while it was nice to see the selection I did, I was a little bit disappointed by the quantity of stores taking part in this event. The good news is that it continues to grow and there is lots of room to expand and make this event more exciting for all in the future.
Which album has been your favorite new release on cassette?
I have to admit it is the Dala Records Mixtape. I like the songs from the various different artists and the soulful vibe is a great one to appreciate.