The results of my totally insane cassette-single experiment.
It’s true: Everything sells on
There’s a lot of talk about “what sells” on
“Everything sells…. Eventually.”
Not everything. But close enough.
No matter how weird, obsolete, or pointless a used media item, there’s someone on
Failing to understand this means you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. And even though I say “everything sells” a lot, I don’t think I really internalized it until the experiment I’m about to recount.
Let’s take this to its extreme….
The insane experiment
One day I decided to see how far I could take this. And by “this,” I mean listing things on
I decided to make a really bad investment in some really obsolete media, and see what happened.
It’s been a year since launching this experiment, and I’m here to report the results. And it involves cassettes.
If you don’t remember cassette singles, that’s exactly why this experiment was doomed to fail
Remember cassette singles? Also known as “cassingles.” They were usually two songs, one on each side, in a paper slipcover. Their reign was roughly from the late 1980s to the early-1990s.
These offer literally nothing that is not found on other formats, except for possibly unique artwork. They offer absolutely no value, and no reason for anyone to buy them.
No unique content, least-popular format. It all raises the question as to if, in this century, anyone would ever purchase a vintage cassette single.
I decided to find out.
Sourcing cheap, pointless, obsolete media to resell on
One day on eBay I saw a listing for 385 cassette singles, mostly from the early 1990s. I jumped on it, and got the whole lot for $36 postage paid. Now, I could really test my theory that people will buy anything on
The box arrived and I started going through all 385 of them with my scanner. Most of them had product pages on
Anything that I couldn’t list for at least $6 also went in the discard pile. That eliminated the vast majority of the lot. When it was over, I had 72 cassette singles I deemed worth listing.
I shipped them in to
And 18 months later (now), I tallied up the results. Here they are:
Total listed on
Total sold: 11
Total investment: $36
Total net profit: $21.75
First, the lessons…
Notice that over 15% of the lot sold. As much as I tell myself anything will sell, I actually had close to zero hope of even one of these cassette single selling. Not one. I just knew I had to find out for myself. Over 15% of them selling over the 18 months was a big confidence boost.
It’s true: Anything sells.
Two, we can learn a lot from what did sell. Of the 11, all of them were artists that were household names. As in, the most mainstream of the mainstream (Madonna, etc). These are artists that have tons of rabid fans who need to own everything they ever put out on every format. So it makes sense.
The majority of the singles I listed were not A-list artists. It was a lot of weird dance music from artists I’d never heard of. In the future, I would jump on investing in a collection like this again if it were all mainstream artists. Anything out of print from them appears to sell. This is valuable information to know, and I wouldn’t have learned it had I not run a test with the most undesirable items on the recorded music spectrum.
Aside from the lessons, there was one more thing that took this experiment out of “abysmal failure” status.
There were over 300 cassettes I didn’t send in. I put them back up on eBay, and actually received $8 more than I paid for them.
Total net profit: $65. And some important lessons.