What We Learned From 1,000 People's 'Perfect Band T-shirt' Preferences
There’s no greater signifier of someone’s musical taste than their collection of band tees. It’s a meticulously curated visual representation of one’s tastes—both in music and graphic design. Your band tee collection says a lot about who you are.
While there have been countless innovations in ways bands and artists advertise themselves (especially in the internet age), classic tees have stayed relevant forever. But what makes them such an effective vehicle for this specific form of advertising and, more importantly, what makes the “perfect band T-shirt?”
Rush Order Tees conducted a survey to paint a picture of who exactly was buying band T-shirts, what kinds of music they like, what prompts them to buy the shirt in the first place, where they buy it, and how long they hold onto it.
The three "key takeaways" were (1) punk rock fans spent the most money on T-shirts, with an average of $597 on their entire collection, (2) heavy metal fans own the most shirts, with an average 17 shirts in their inventory, and (3) you should know at least 10 songs from an artist before wearing their shirt. Apparently, a lot of music snobs responded to this survey.
But the survey also tells us a number of things about what music fans are looking for in their T-shirts, how long they keep them, what colors they prefer and more. Let's take a look at some of the stats:
• The average survey respondent owned 11 band T-shirts and estimated that they’ve spent about $387 on band shirts in their lifetime.
• The steady increase in T-shirt price, as well as the continuing popularity of re-sale sites for vintage shirts, made it so the average respondent said they were willing to spend $51 on a band T-shirt.
• More than half of the survey participants said they bought a vintage band T-shirt, and considered that a “status symbol.” On average, they spent about $106 on vintage shirts alone.
• Blues fans owned the most vintage band T-shirts, followed closely by folk, EDM, punk and country.
• Nearly half of respondents said they bought their shirts on eBay, and 46.6% said they purchased them at secondhand/used clothing/thrift stores.
• On average, the oldest band tee people owned was 11 years old, with 68.8% of participants still owning their oldest band shirt. (The other 31.2% must have sold theirs on eBay.)
• That value is also demonstrated by the fact that 31% of people bought a shirt in the wrong size just because they wanted the shirt that badly. That statistic applied more to women (37.2%) than men (25.8%), pointing to a lack of band T-shirts in sizes/cuts women want.
• From a decoration angle, 56.1% of people surveyed liked having lyrics printed on the band shirts, and an overwhelming 97.6% liked having the band name or logo visible.
• The most popular T-shirt color, by far, was black (60.9%) followed by blue (14.5%).
• AC/DC was the most commonly owned T-shirt at 21.4%, followed by Aerosmith (18.1%) and Queen (16.9%).
• Those classic rock fans are most likely to also purchase a shirt after the artist dies, with 50.1% saying they’ve done it before. They’re also the most likely demographic to design their own band shirts.
The whole “name 10 songs before you buy the T-shirt” thing, well, that’s up for your own interpretation. But, the overall survey findings aren’t up for debate: It speaks to the lasting power of the T-shirt that people hold onto them for so long, or feel the desire to buy vintage shirts.
And no matter what other developments artists’ marketing teams make, no matter what promotional tie-in they have with fast food restaurants and regardless of the social media platform integrations available in the 2020s, the T-shirt will always be there.
Preferably in black, with the band logo visible.