Tarantula Tapes’ Focus on Cassettes a Boon for Bands

When I first heard there was a new record label in Barrie, I was thrilled! As part of an organization which hopes to build the music industry in the region, this is a fabulous development. When I learned they were all about cassette tapes, it surprised me a bit even though cassettes are having a resurgence. In the digital age many of us are eager for tactile experiences again – recordings we can hold in our hand, read liner notes for, or put on the shelf as part of a collection instead of just sitting in a hard drive somewhere. Eager to learn a more, I reached out to Corey and Casey, owners of Tarantula Tapes, to hear their story. 

Tarantula Tapes started in September of 2020, and there was no great plan to start a cassette manufacturing facility or record label at the time. A band that Corey and Casey play in, The Speed Humps, had recently released an album digitally and wanted a physical platform to release it on as well. With COVID restrictions making this difficult, they simply decided to do it on their own. 

From that point it started to grow, and initially that growth was quite organic for the newly formed label as they started working with friends and bands they know as word spread. Their focus is on punk music for the most part, with a few other offerings that would be considered grass roots underground. Central Ontario has a significant punk community, and Corey attributes much of their initial growth to this community, noting “the best part of punk is community, this is just an extension of that community”. 

From their start working with a few of their friend’s bands, they had at the time I spoke with them, released 26 albums, 23 of them in 2021. While most of these artists are local, they have worked with bands from Manitoba and several Maritime Provinces as well. While Corey and Casey both work day jobs, they still help bands with promotion and publicity as much as far as their time and resources allow. Corey notes she will write press releases, send music and promotional materials to radio stations, promote their bands on social media and hold events featuring their artists at local establishments such as The Queen’s nightclub. 

I asked Corey what the attraction was to cassettes as opposed to vinyl or CDs. She noted the “unique and charming imperfections” that each unit has, as well as the low cost, ease of customization in terms of colors and printed content/liner notes and just the trendiness of cassettes. Cassettes are also easy to purchase and carry around at a show, and all their releases include a digital download card with the physical product. 

Coming away from the conversation, it was clear to me that this may be the best possible options for many bands. Tarantula gives bands an inexpensive platform on which to release their music and provides some support and advice while still giving artists the freedom to express themselves fully and use other promotional, distribution and managerial options as suits them. It looks like Tarantula Tapes will be a long-term part of the culture of our region, one that will help bands grow their careers, reach their audience, and ensure that Central Ontario’s dynamic and vibrant punk scene continues to thrive.  

For more information or to keep up with their activities follow them on their Facebook page or website.