By Muhammad Irshad

Easy and cheap access to music entertainment available on cell-phone memory cards, compact disks (CDs), USB data storages has revolutionized, besides other things, also music industry. But at the same time it has badly affected the business of cassette tapes. The new music devices have occupied the shelves of cassette tapes in the music shops.

The nosediving business has rendered thousands of people attached to it unemployed besides inflicting hundreds of thousands of rupees loss to the audio cassette business.

Cassette dealers in Peshawar recall that in the near past, a large number of music lovers used to visit cassette shops in Kabuli Gate, Firdous, Kareempura, Nishtarabad, etc to get the cassettes of their choice. The new albums of singers would sell like hot cakes.

But the situation is altogether different now. Popular singers avoid releasing cassette tapes fearing that it would badly fail to earn them business. Only local and folk singers release audio albums on cassettes.  According to a rough estimate 95 per cent of the cassette tape business has switched to latest technology because a vast variety of music is available on computers, laptops, cell-phones, tablets, iPods, USB mass storage devices, etc. on relatively cheap rates.

They said that there were around 400 cassette shops in Peshawar but now one can hardly find 10 such shops in the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Invented by Holland-band Philips Company, audio cassettes remained the prime source of music entertainment from 1970s to late 1990s. But during the last 15 years the cassette trend registered a sharp decline and now one can hardly find a cassette player shop in the city. This is why the cassette-manufacturing companies also decreased the production of cassettes.

Most of the people dealing in audio cassettes in Peshawar have now started the business of uploading songs and movies to USBs and memory cards through computers. They say the CDs, USB data storages and memory cards have badly affected the business of audio cassettes.

Except some people who want to remain sticking to their cultural heritage, nobody is interested in buying audio cassettes. This is why cassette sellers have placed computers in their shops and charge Rs. 30 to 100 to shift data containing Pastho songs and movies of customers’ choice memory cards. A cassette which cost a customer Rs. 50 contains 10 to 15 songs but a memory card has the capacity to store hundreds of songs, so they prefer memory cards on cassettes.

However, cassettes are still used in some under-developed countries and people in developed countries use cassette players to recall their old memories.

Despite the declining trend of cassettes some cab drivers still use audio cassettes in their vehicles. Zalan, a taxi driver, has a good collection of audio cassettes. He anxiously awaits release of new cassette to add it to its collection. In heydays of audio cassette trend he used to get cassettes recorded on order. Now he buys cassettes of Pashto and Urdu songs released by music companies.

He said that in villages which lack the facility of electricity people still use battery-run cassette players to entertain them with music. He said that as long as people don’t have electricity and they remained sticking to their traditions, the trend of audio cassette would not end.

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