Music T-Shirts. Yay? or Nay?

Photo by: Wikicommons

Photo by: Wikicommons

As someone who owns a lot of band merchandise in the form of clothing, it’s easy for me to list the benefits of wearing a music t-shirt. However, we’ve all tutted at that one person wearing a Nirvana top who doesn’t know who Kurt Cobain is, or that individual sporting Joy Division’s famous Unknown Pleasures on their chest who only knows Love Will Tear Us Apart at the most. Should there be a social rule that you can only wear the shirt of a band you actively listen to, or are even the naïve ones still in their own right to unintentionally advertise a band they don’t know? Also, what about owning unofficial merchandise? If what you buy isn’t funding the band at all, is there any point in wearing it?

The bottom line that we must reach firstly is that no matter what your intentions when wearing the shirt, if you choose to wear it in public (and don’t cover it up) you are automatically advertising that band’s music. You are supporting them, whether you like it or not, because you are increasing their exposure. This can only have positive results for the band, so one could argue that as long as it’s on display, the wearer’s knowledge of the band does not matter. This said, an unknowledgeable person wouldn’t be able to provide any information to anyone if their shirt sparks a conversation, and they are much less likely to bring the shirt up in a discourse as well, so the impact on the band could be minute borderline insignificant. At least a supporter of the band would be able to persuade others to buy their music, or at least research them.

The other benefit of buying band merchandise is that you are actively supporting the band. The members need people who are willing to spend their pocket money on their products because it helps them with achieving a bigger production, in the recording studio AND live in concert. The problem here lies in the amount of bootleg, knock-off and unofficial items sold by third party companies. These are sold in market stalls, outside gig venues and on various websites and they do not benefit the band at all, but are popular because they are usually cheaper than the real, authentic thing. I have to admit to owning a couple myself, as would many other serious music fans. Though it could be argued that it still advertises the band, you are not actively supporting them by choosing this option.

Personally, I like to buy official merchandise because I’m not paying for just a t-shirt; I’m wearing something personally produced by people I admire, for people like me. I’m funding their future tour dates, their recording equipment and networking quality. It’s more than just a shirt when you can improve the lives of others at the same time. If you feel differently, that’s completely fine, because you’re advertising a great band anyway!


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