Breaking Down the Band Tee Obsession
There's something to be said about stepping into a venue with – at least – a few hundred strangers all staring up (or down) at the same stage as you, singing and dancing along with you as your favorite artist performs in the spotlight. It's a feeling unlike any other and one that can create lasting memories. Live music creates a sense of belonging for people.
One way to commemorate these emotions and connections is through memorabilia from the event. From posters and backpacks to band T-shirts, merch is a way for us to show support for our favorite artists and display affinity for them in our daily life.
To learn more about people's band T-shirt collections, we decided to survey 1,017 proud owners of band tees to see what genres they represent; their value; what led them to buy the shirt; their purchasing habits; and more. Read on to check out the habits and beliefs we uncovered about band tees.
- Punk fans have spent the most money ($597) on their band tee collection.
- Heavy metal fans have the largest band tee collection, with 17 shirts in their wardrobe, on average.
- Music fans think you should know at least 10 songs before wearing a band's T-shirt.
Acquiring the Merch
Waiting in line for an event to score your favorite tee or scouring the internet for the most authentic vintage pieces is part of the experience of music fandom. While an expensive T-shirt may range anywhere from $19 to $30, on average, our respondents were willing to dish out $51 for a band tee.
The total value of the average band T-shirt collection came out to be around $387, which is just a few dollars less than the retail price of the latest PlayStation console. As far as the most expensive collection: Punk music aficionados reported a band tee collection including 15 shirts totaling nearly $600. Coming in valued around $100 less, heavy metal rockers reported owning more shirts than any other genre (17), but their average total value was $495. EDM fans spent the least amount on their shirt collections, but reported owning 16 shirts, on average, making their price per shirt lower than any other genre. It's crazy to think that touring artists earn anywhere from 10% to 35% of their tour revenue from merchandising sales.
When it comes to a generational divide, millennials were most likely to dish out their hard earned cash for a band tee, with the average millennial willing to spend $57 per shirt. Gen Xers were willing to spend $45, while baby boomers were willing to spend the least at $39 per shirt.
Owning the newest and latest trends may not be a sign of true fandom when it comes to band tees. More than half of our respondents (58.4%) said that a vintage band tee is a status symbol, and around the same amount (58.9%) had purchased one.
While punk rockers and metalheads had expansive and expensive shirt collections, the vintage T-shirt community is primarily dominated by blues lovers and folk and EDM fans.
So where do people uncover their favorite vintage tees? Well, 49.4% found their shirts on eBay, and 46.6% discovered their shirts through secondhand/thrift shops. These can be pretty pricey options; a $600 Led Zeppelin shirt was recently posted on eBay. Not everyone had to spend money to get their hands on a vintage band shirt though, 16.3% of vintage band tee owners had acquired a vintage shirt from a family member or friends.
When it comes to repping the band, there's some unspoken rules some fans think you should follow. For example, on average, respondents said you should know at least 10 songs before rocking a band's tee. Folk fans, K-pop listeners, and jazz devotees all said you should know an average of 13 songs before you don a band's shirt.
Some other general rules music buffs advocated for included buying a shirt before a concert to wear to the event, only authentic shirts from the band are "real," and don't represent a band you don't listen to. When looking at gender differences, 44.7% of men believed that only authentic band tees could be considered "real," compared to only 35.7% of women.
People take these custom t-shirts seriously and hang out with them for more than just a short period of time (see Mom, it's not a phase). The average respondent in our study said their oldest shirt was more than a decade old (11 years), and 68.8% still owned their oldest band tee.
What's in the Threads
So we've looked at how many shirts people owned, how much they spent, and some of the unspoken band tee rules, but what makes up the perfect band shirt? Is it the colors, maybe the lyrics, or perhaps a life event for an artist.
Our respondents pretty much unanimously agreed that having the band logo or name visible on the shirt is pretty important. Also, 56.1% enjoyed having lyrics from the artist incorporated into the shirt. As far as colors are concerned, the ideal shirt color was black (60.9%) followed distantly by blue (14.5%).
When it comes to getting the shirt they wanted, 37.2% of women had purchased the wrong size shirt because their size was unavailable, compared to only 25.8% of men who reported doing this. And for timing, about half of our respondents purchased a band tee once an artist had passed away. Classic rock fans were the most likely to do this, followed by rap/hip-hop fans and pop fans.
I'm With the Band
Some big retailers, like Walmart, feature some band shirts for sale at any time. These shirts aren't tied to a specific event and have been turned into fashion pieces instead of band memorabilia.Buying a shirt isn't the only way to represent your favorite artist. In fact, 36.2% of our respondents actually made their own band shirt instead of purchasing one.
When considering the more recent rise in popularity that band shirts have in the fashion scene, it's not surprising to see big-name bands like AC/DC and Aerosmith topping the list of artists that have made their way into our band tee collections.
As far as the kings and queens of each genre, Prince and Taylor Swift were the most popular among pop fans, Eminem and Jay-Z held hip-hop/rap honors, and AC/DC was tops for hard rock/ alternative and classic rock.
It's All in a Band Tee
Seeing how, on average, people kept band tees for 11 years, it's fair to say that band T-shirts have played a big role in our celebrations of music and support for our favorite artists. They allow us to publicly display our affinities and connect with other people who share the same passions we do. If you're looking for a new way to display your love for music and express your creativity, let RushOrderTees help you out. With the ability to custom design any shirt, you can craft the perfect tee featuring your favorite lyrics and band, letting you display your creativity in fandom in a way that matters to you.
Methodology and Limitations
This study uses data from a survey of 1,017 band T-shirt owners located in the U.S. Survey respondents were gathered through an online survey platform where they were presented with a series of questions, including attention-check and disqualification questions.55.7% of respondents identified as men, 43.7% identified as women, and 0.6% of respondents identified as nonbinary or other. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 75 with an average age of 34. 59.9% of respondents were millennials, 28.7% Gen Xers, and 11.4% were baby boomers.Participants incorrectly answering any attention-check question had their answers disqualified. This study has a 3% margin of error on a 95% confidence interval.
Please note that survey responses are self-reported and are subject to issues, such as exaggeration, recency bias, and telescoping.
Fair Use Statement
Did this study strike a chord with you? Feel free to display this study as proudly as you would your favorite band tee. But just like you want your band name included, make sure you link back to this study so that it can get the full credit it deserves.