8 Rarest and Most Expensive Cassette Tapes Ever

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Cassette tapes or music cassettes are a thing of the past. No one today needs a cassette tape to listen to their favorite music. However, music cassettes still have a steady or even thriving market. For some, they are sheer nostalgia, while for some others, they are rare collectibles. People spend hundreds of dollars to get hold of their favorite music albums in cassette format.

Rarity is certainly not the only marker that determines the price of a vintage music cassette. It depends on many other factors, including the artist’s legacy, the performance of the album when it was first released, and others.

Here we list the 8 rarest and most expensive cassette tapes ever sold.

8. The Madonna Collection

Highest selling price: $1,500 (2015)
Artist/Band: Madonna
Year of release: 1987
Label: Warner Bros
Genre: Electronic, Pop
The Madonna Collection
photo source: discogs.com

Warner Bros released The Madonna Collection, a limited-edition tape box set in 1987. It was a collectors’ edition released exclusively in the Philippines. The box set contained four of Madonna’s albums released between 1984 and 1987: Like a Virgin, Who’s That Girl, You Can Dance, and True Blue.

The cassettes were packaged in a 6.5″ x 9.5″ custom-made video-style case and had an exclusive picture inlay. Picture labels of each cassette were also redesigned for this release.

Additionally, a 20-page booklet with English lyrics of all the songs contained in each of the albums was also supplied. It is difficult to say exactly how many copies of this exclusive edition were released, but only a few survived. One copy of this box set was sold for $1,500 in 2015.

Did you know?

Madonna holds 16 Guinness World Records, including “The most successful female recording artist of all time.” 


7. FLORAL SHOPPE

Highest selling price: $1,500 (2020)
Artist/Band: Macintosh Plus
Year of release: 2012
Label: Beer on The Rug
Genre: Electronic, Funk / Soul
FLORAL SHOPPE
photo source: us.archive.org/

Floral Shoppe is considered one of the pioneering albums of the microgenre known as vaporwave. It is the ninth studio album by Ramona Andra Xavier, an American electronic musician. She released the album under the pseudonym Macintosh Plus.

The album was first released in 2011 in digital format. The album was equally criticized and acclaimed by both critics and general music lovers. Many believe Floral Shoppe is the most significant vaporwave album that defined the style of the genre. 

In 2012, around 100 copies of this album were released in cassette tape format. One of them was sold for $1500 in 2020.  

Did you know?

Besides Macintosh Plus, Xavier used multiple other aliases, including Laserdisc Visions, Vektroid New Dreams Ltd, and dstnt.


6. Lonely Is An Eyesore

Highest selling price: Approximately $3,100 (2018)
Artist/Band: Various
Year of release: 1987
Label: 4AD
Genre: Electronic, Rock
Lonely Is An Eyesore
photo source: cloudfront.net

 Lonely Is An Eyesore is a compilation of the songs by various bands who were signed to the label 4AD. The albums featured a total of eight bands and musical collectives: Colourbox, This Mortal Coil, The Wolfgang Press, Throwing Muses, Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, Dif Juz, and Clan of Xymox, 

All the tracks included in this album were recorded during the period of 1985 to 1987, except for one. The song “Frontier” by the British and Australian music duo Dead Can Dance was a demo recorded by the group in 1979. 

The album was released in three formats: LP, cassette, and CD. A music video was also made for the release. A limited number of wooden box edition was released as well. The wooden box set had all three audio formats, the music video, and some artwork. This special wooden box edition is exceedingly rare to find and highly valued. One example of this set was sold for $1,629 in 2016.

Did you know?

The title of the album was taken from the lyrics of the song “Fish” by the American alternative rock band Throwing Muses. 


5. Year Zero + Unreleased Material

Highest selling price: $1,729 (2017)
Artist/Band: Buck 65
Year of release: 1996
Label: Self-released
Genre: Hip Hop
Year Zero + Unreleased Material
photo source: e.snmc.io

It is an extremely rare music cassette released by Canadian alternative hip hop singer Richard Terfy, better known as Buck 65. He also goes by other pseudonyms such as Stinkin’ Rich, DJ Critical, Uncle Climax, Haslam, and Johnny Rockwell.

The two sides of the cassette contain two different albums, each recorded under two different pseudonyms. Side A has 16 songs from the album Year Zero. The artist recorded this album under the alias Buck 65. Side B has 17 tracks from Unreleased Material, recorded as Stinkin’ Rich. 

It was a handmade tape with a handmade cover. It is estimated that less than 10 copies of this cassette were released. 

Did you know?

The pseudonyms used by Buck 65 represent various characters from his raps or different aspects of his creativity.


4. 24 Hours

Highest selling price: $2,200 (2017)
Artist/Band: Throbbing Gristle
Year of release: 1980
Label: Industrial Records
Genre: Electronic
24 Hours
photo source: blogspot.com
24 Hours
photo source: blogspot.com

24 Hours is a unique limited edition box set released by Throbbing Gristle, the pioneers of industrial music. 26 cassettes, including 23 live performance albums and 3 studio-recorded albums, were packaged in a suitcase. 

The industrial Records mail-order catalog mentioned each suitcase would contain the most recent 24 tapes. Thus, the content of each package often varied from each other.

Each of the sets released was personalized and dated. All of them were numbered and individually assigned to buyers. Hand-made collages were included, and all the artworks were unique. Initially, only 50 sets of this collectors’ edition were released. Later, a few more copies were produced and distributed; however, they were not numbered as in the previous run. According to some sources, a total of 210 copies of the second run were released, including 60 for the Japanese market.

Did you know?

The group Throbbing Gristle created the record label Industrial Records in 1976, primarily for self-releases. However, later the label signed many other bands and individual artists. 


3. Untieddiaries 1979-87

Highest selling price: $2300 (2017)
Artist/Band: Various
Year of release: 1987
Label: United Dairies
Genre: Electronic
Untieddiaries 1979-87
photo source: discogs.com
Untieddiaries 1979-87
photo source: discogs.com

UK-based label United Dairies was launched in1979. Their first release was an LP by the band Nurse with Wound (NWW), formed by British musician Steven Stapleton. In fact, most of the titles released by United Dairies are by Nurse with Wound.

In 1987, Stapleton became the operation head of the label. Soon after taking charge, he released a collectors’ edition deluxe box set featuring all the albums released by United Dairies from 1979 -to 87 and other related items. The box also included many extended and remixed versions. The cassette tapes were packaged in a black suitcase with an engraved brass nameplate. Only 50 such sets were ever released.     

Did you know?

This box set was never released in the stores. One could only get it by mail-order through United Diaries. 


2. The Versace Experience – Prelude 2 Gold

Highest selling price: $4017 (2016)
Artist/Band: The Artist (formerly known as Prince)
Year of release: 1995
Label: NPG, Warner Bros.
Genre: Electronic
The Versace Experience – Prelude 2 Gold
photo source: discogs.com

The Versace Experience – Prelude 2 Gold was a limited-edition promotional cassette tape released in 1995. It was given away at the Parish Fashion Week to promote Prince’s then-upcoming album, The Gold Experience. However, tracks from other planned projects were also included in the cassette. 

Only 300 copies of the cassette were produced and handed over to the visitors who attended the Versace Collection. The cover of the cassette mentioned, “4 promotional use only – not 4 sale.” 

Did you know?

11,000 copies of this cassette were re-released for Record Store Day in 2019. However, the original Versace edition remains one of the most sought-after cassette tapes of all time. 


1. Xero

Highest selling price: $4500 (2021)
Artist/Band: Linkin Park (formerly known as Xero)
Year of release: 1997
Label: Self-released
Genre: Rock
Xero
photo source: discogs.com
Xero
photo source: discogs.com

Xero is the most expensive and arguably the rarest cassette tape that exists today. The world-famous music band that we now know as Linkin Park began its journey in 1996.

Initially, the band was named Xero. It was formed by current members of the band Mike Shinoda, Joe Hahn, Rob Bourdon, Dave “Phoenix” Farrell, Brad Delson, and then-vocalist Mark Wakefield. 

The band self-released their first demo album in 1997. Another version of this album was also released later that year. Both versions had the same tracks, but the covers were different. The first version had a black and white shopping cart on its cover. Only four copies of this version could be traced. 

The second version’s cover featured an image of a baby. This version of Xero is most commonly known and sold at a record-setting price of $4,500. This version is also extremely rare, with only 12 known existing copies.

Did you know?

After Chester Bennington joined the group, Xero changed its name to “Hybrid Theory”. However, they again had to change the name due to a legal dispute with another band. At this point, they chose the name “Lincoln Park” but couldn’t afford the domain name for a website with this name. Thus, they tweaked the spelling and finally settled for “Linkin Park”.    

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