I had about 70 audio cassettes. Mostly mine, but also some from my Mum. I find it very difficult to throw things away, but at the same time all the stuff I have weighs me down. So I came up with this method to sort out the cassettes and thought I would share it.

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Rationalise it

They are degrading, the sound quality is bad, the thing you need to play them on is either broken, packed away (further clutter) or is on it’s last legs. And anyway you don’t listen to them. But there is the sentimental issue!

Step 1 Proprietary Albums

Take all of the proprietary tapes remove the cover inserts – throw away the tape and box. The inserts provide a reminder of your collection, take up a much smaller space and you can search for any tracks you want to listen to again, now that you have been reminded about them, on youtube, spotify, or other similar music sites.

Step 2 Home Recorded Albums

Sort through home recorded tapes and separate out direct recordings of albums. Either do the same of removing the cover insert if there is writing on that has sentimental value (eg given by a friend with a message) otherwise just type out a list of the albums. Repeat rest of step 1.

Step 3 Compilation/Mix Tapes

Ask yourself, is the familiarity of the track order with all the hiss and crackle of sentimental value to you. If so, find a way to digitise it (separate post) and then throw the tape and case and keep the card insert. Otherwise skip the digitise step.

Step 4 Voice and other recordings (eg answer-machine messages)

This is the most tricky category as there may be the voices of loved ones who have gone or just nice to hear because so long ago. This is a category that you may regret throwing, so keep them for another sorting session properly labelled or digitise and throw away.

Step 5 Unlabelled tapes

Fast forward through them stopping at intervals to listen to a short burst to see if you can identify what they are. If you can’t and they have nothing on them that is sentimental value – bin them. Even if they are brand new. No-one has a use for them. If you think there is anything confidential on the tapes pull out the magnetic strip and cut it into sections.

If there is any other category that I haven’t covered, please let me know.

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