Harare — Diamond Studios will soon commission a cassette plant in Zimbabwe to feed its expanding market in the country as well as neighbouring Botswana.
It is also the company's belief that once successfully completed, it will reduce the levels of piracy in the country.
More music would now be available on cassettes, a development that is going to pose a challenge to pirates, who will require blank cassettes to burn the music. Ironically, many retail shops no longer sell these archaic gadgets and several manufacturers no longer produce them on a large scale.
Diamond Studios marketing executive John Muroyi said there was a growing demand for tapes in the country's rural areas and in villages in Botswana.
"The decision to commission a plant is in response to the market dictates. We have been inundated with calls from music fans, mainly from the rural areas, who want to buy cassettes from us. It is the same scenario in Botswana, and the market is even bigger there because of the sprawling villages, where thousands of herdsmen reside," he said.
Muroyi added that although cassettes were now very outdated, they have a longer lifespan than compact discs.
"It is a fact that cassettes and even CDs have been overtaken by technology. People are now using flash disks, USBs and Ipods to store their music. We, however, have since realised that cassettes do have a longer lifespan than CDs, which can easily be broken and cannot be replaced," he said.
The cassette plant has the capacity to produce 15 000 tapes in a single day, a figure which, Muroyi says, will be adequate for their target market. "There are not many companies who are investing in tapes in the region and that alone gives us a competitive edge, while enabling us to push large volumes at any given time," he said.
Local recording companies have since stopped producing cassettes, saying they are not viable. Those who still have them in their stocks are now selling three cassettes for US$1.
"We envisage market resistance here and there, but we are quite confident that the product will move smoothly," Muroyi said.
The stable has in the last few months signed in several upcoming and established artistes, further consolidating its position as one of the most vibrant recording companies which offers competitive incentives to musicians.
Some of the musicians that record with Diamond Studios include First Farai, Sulumane Chimbetu, gospel musician Kudzi Nyakudya, Mutare-based songbird Agartha Murudzwa and Farai Mhaka, who is an upcoming sungura artiste.