As recently as 1996, you could still expect to see the occasional cassette in a stack of promotional mailings. I’m not sure, since I didn’t start receiving promotional mailings until very recently, but I’d guess that advance cassettes have always been the unwanted sandlot ballplayer of the promotional mailings circuit. Skipping from a song you’re not enjoying to the next one on a cassette is a cumbersomely mechanical process, and a prospective listener would be better off just making a choice and sticking to it: either one listens to the album from beginning to end, enduring the lulls stoically, or one gambles that it’s not going to get any better and just throws it away. From what I know of music critics I can’t imagine many of them being thrilled about such a proposition. The chances of missing the gem near the end -- Stephen Malkmus’s “Jenny and the Ess-Dog” comes to mind -- are just too great. The alternative, though, is inevitably going to result in a whole lot of unrecoverable time wasted. The cassette mailing was doomed from the start.

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