A UGC Recipe for Fans, Gear and Music Festivals

It’s Spring! That faint noise you hear is not birds chirping, but the collective panic of music fans scrambling to gear up for their favorite festivals. What t-shirts should they buy? And what exactly makes a great band or artist t-shirt, anyway? Using examples from various online marketplaces, Source3 is here to explain.

It wasn’t long ago that fans were limited to buying merchandise provided by the artists themselves. The good news was that these pre-approved/licensed items made bands money; the bad news was that their fans were stuck wearing the same t-shirt. Music fans hate wearing the same t-shirt.

Makers on these online marketplaces, who are often fans themselves, have filled the void. Just like fans who interpret lyrics and band personas in a way that marketing teams can’t predict, User Generated Content (UGC) makers create unpredictable goods that help fans stand out in a sea of sunburned, dehydrated devotees. At Source3, we’ve looked at way more band t-shirts than you have and humbly offer some of the popular formulas that we have observed.


Ingredient #1: Lyrics

Slap some lyrics on a T-Shirt or beer koozie and you’ve got yourself a hit. Fans enjoy the opportunity to belt their favorite lyrics at the top of their lungs, as well as the ability to wear them in public. Lyric T-shirts allow fans to exhibit their dedication to a band’s discography by investing in screen-printed ink, rather than body ink (yikes).

Ingredient #2: Icons

Creators leap at the chance to create content using universally recognized symbols. Capturing the essence of a celebrity through memorable makeup, logos, alter egos, and album covers has been a successful way for makers to please fans. Think David Bowie’s alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, and his iconic lightning bolt makeup on the cover of Aladdin Sane. Or most recently, Kendrick Lamar’s hoodie worn in his newly released music video “Humble”.


Ingredient #3: Fan-Club Memorabilia

What do the words Beyhive, Deadhead, Belieber, Little Monsters, and Skeleton Clique all have in common? If you said that they each represent a dedicated fan base to one particular artist, you would be correct. These groups are pining for merchandise referencing their cult of fandom and UGC makers are delivering.

Ingredient #4: Mash-Ups

Fans are multifaceted. Not only is Joe Festival a huge fan of N.W.A., but he also enjoys Doctor Who. While popular entertainment brands normally don’t create merchandise embracing intersections with other fan bases, their fans do. How else do you explain these inventive mash-ups?

Whatever T-shirt you choose to wear, band you follow, or festival you attend, please take Source3’s best advice: remember to hydrate and use plenty of sunblock!

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