10 Chinese Cassette Labels Leading A Tape Resurgence

China Tape Labels
Over the past few years, a swarm of cassette labels have appeared in China. Here's an overview of the key players.

China’s current crop of DIY cassette labels is extremely small and very new. The flow of dakou (打口)—discarded Western tapes sold in the grey market created after China’s 1978 economic opening—raised an early generation of rock bands and noise artists on unevenly imported and heavily damaged cassettes. But by the time these musicians began to release their own music, CD was the dominant format. Urban music scenes throughout the country, with special concentrations in Beijing and Shanghai, have developed significantly over the intervening years. The swarm of small cassette labels launched in China over the last five or six years—some of which you’ll see in the list below—is partly inspired by nostalgic throwback and part of a resurgence in the global tape trade as well as an index of the cross-pollination of ideas allowed by the internet. Ironically, that same exchange creates new offline markets for the international flux of music on tape.

Josh Feola has written about underground music in China for The Wire, Tiny Mix Tapes and LEAP. He’s been active as a writer, musician, and curator in Beijing since 2010 via his platform pangbianr. Contact him here.


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