SPRINGFIELD, Mo- National Audio Company, the biggest cassette production company in the United States, is celebrating 50 years.
To celebrate, the company is releasing a mixtape of Springfield artists. The tape is called “Genuine Springfield Hometown Mix.”
50 Years of Tape
Steve Stepp, the president of National Audio, says the company has been family-owned since the beginning.
“He [Steve’s father] and I started it together in 1969, and we were dealing with radio stations and T.V. stations and selling broadcast tape cartridges and reel to reel tape, and that was the beginning of National Audio.”
According to Stepp, they are the largest manufacturer of audio cassettes in the world, also making their own tape.
“Most of the other manufacturers of tape went out of the business before the rebound of audio cassettes.”
They do the duplication, packaging, and retail packages for Disney, Sony, Universal Music Group, and about 3,500 independent labels worldwide, as well as selling raw materials to other tape manufacturers worldwide.
Springfield’s First Mixtape
“We’ve talked about, ‘how are we going to celebrate 50 years being in business?’ Everybody hands out gold watches, gold this or gold that for the golden anniversary, but we thought it has to be an audio cassette.”
Stepp says Springfield is a very active market for local music and indie labels, so they figured they would do a mixtape with one song from each band who was interested in being on the tape.
National Audio is releasing the tape this weekend for Cassette Store Day. Cassette Store Day is similar to Record Store Day – bands put out a limited release item on one day for people to buy. For more on CSD click here.
The cassette will only be released in Springfield with about 400-500 copies available Friday and Saturday.
Moving forward, Stepp isn’t worried about business going down.
“The demographic driving the return to audio cassette is the 20-35 age group. It’s perfect; it’s the demographic you want to capture if you want to grow in the future. So, we feel very positive about this, we wouldn’t have invested the millions of dollars we’ve invested and all the time we’ve invested here in building a new cassette tape plant.”
He says the only problem they have as a company is fulfilling all the demand, Stepp says that’s a good problem to have.