Following my recent topic on the Art of the Mix Tape, I remind you all of a wonderful, but short-lived, trend of the late-1980′s: the Personics tape.
Large chains like Sam Goody had large jukebox-looking machines set up that had hundreds of known and unknown singles on them that you could listen to sounds clips of and then make a custom cassette from the ones you liked. If I remember correctly, you could get 8 songs for about $10, and this included a custom cover and laser-printed labels. Though I only made one Personics tape (pictured above), this idea was the predecessor for the multitude of custom-CD services available today.
It worked really well, as you could combine singles you really liked with songs you may never have heard before (on mine I put a song by “White Boy Mike”… huh?). The important thing was that they were affordable and it wasn’t unreasonable to think a teenager would go into a store and spend the money on a custom Personics tape rather than on a full-length album. The problem with a lot of custom CD sites now is that you can expect to pay $12 plus shipping for 8 tracks.
A number of interesting sites exist that mention Sony’s short-lived Personics System:
- Violation of Federal Security Laws: a rundown of a class action suit against MusicMaker.com. Check out summary item number 12.
- Phones and Death: a weird page about telephone culture. The author discusses a Personics tape he made limited to songs related to telephones.
- CD Changer Controller: a brief article about the Sony CDK-006 60 disc changer, which was apparently modified and used by the Personics system to run at 2.5 normal duplication speed. Includes some techie information.
- Music and the Internet: a transcript of a discussion about the Internet’s role in music distribution. Oddly, where they talk about Personics, they mention that you could only use songs that were older than five years old and “out of print.” I know for sure that the songs I put on my tape were not that old, and in some cases were brand new.
- “I’ll Take Verve, Space and Chumbawamba.”: a May 1998 article from the Industry Standard.
- RedDotNet: CD manufacturing goes point-of-sale: an extremely in-depth September 1999 look at centralized content and user-controlled digital content.
- Prices, pirets [sic] and Personics: an April 1998 article shunning the “death of the audio tape” talk. Not much of a mention of Personics, except in the title.
- The Orphaned Puppy Collection: this guy apparently spent hundreds of dollars in one month alone on Personics tapes. He has more than 25 volumes worth of track listings here. Yikes.
- Spunkyworld: message thread about Personics and custom CDs.
- Slashdot: a March 1999 discussion about custom CDs — search on “Personics,” as it’s mentioned a number of times throughout the thread.
- Make Your Own Compilation CD Site – CDUCTIVE.COM: another message from a thread, this time about CDuctive. From December 1997.
- Break the Grip of Shame… Paris
- The Originators… The Jaz and Jay-Z (way before he became a household name)
- We Don’t Play… Frescho & Miz
- Something to Rock To.. White Boy Mike
- Out of Control… Mikey D & the L.A. Posse
- Freak the Funk… Stezo
- Notorious… Kool Rock Jay and D.J. Slice
- The Devil Made Me Do It.. Paris
Posted in Television, Movies, and Music