On tape

Recording Studio Tape Boxes

One of the perks of working on repackaging recordings for CD is the chance from time to time to work with the old master tapes. Normally the critical information for a reissue project – track and recording information – is on the back. Yet the graphics on the box covers are visually interesting and many companies produced recording tape for studio use, which needed to be of a very high quality. It was only recently that I thought to photograph some of the tape boxes themselves before they needed to be returned.
A lot of the logo branding can be recognised having appeared on other products for the domestic market by the same firm. All these boxes are around 12″ square and contained 1″ recording tape.

Agfa studio recording tape sixties

The Agfa imagery might likewise might be familiar from older cameras, roll film and photographic paper marketed by the company, and they also made domestic cassette tape. This box is from 1973

BASF studio recording tape

The 1972 BASF box is typical; this logo appeared on blank cassettes, on tape recorders made by the company, and for a brief time there was even a BASF album label.

EMI studio recording tape

The Scotch brand is again quite old, and they used their own typeface which appears here in both the Scotch name, the 3M logo and the ‘Magnetic Products’ identification name. The plain black and white design is lifted by a simple line in a ‘tartan’ design in red. This box is dated 1969

.EMI tape box

Finally a great design from EMI also from about 1969, using an abstract version of a soundwave, with the arrows adding a nice dynamic.  The EMITAPE logo seen here also appeared on their cassette boxes, while the small oval EMI logo was much older and was used on the backs of all EMI sleeves through the sixties.  I was able to adapt some of these graphics on an EMI reissue package a couple of years back (the last I did for them before the company was destroyed by the private equity “industry”), although I am not sure the label knew where they’d come from!

About simon robinson

Having worked as a graphic designer in the music industry, mainly in the reissue sector, I now concentrate on the design and publication of books about popular culture - and even write some of them.
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