Artist merch is a big part of the current music economy: It makes billions of dollars. It plays a role in determining who tops the albums chart. But it’s always been an important part of the fan experience, too, allowing listeners to commemorate shows, cement their bonds with their favorite musicians and broadcast those connections to the world. Below, eight Billboard staffers share (and show off) their favorite merch acquisitions of the year.
Chris Payne, staff writer
Covering Paramore's third Parahoy! cruise for Billboard this April was hands down my on-the-scene highlight of the year. Between doing daily recaps, interviewing nearly every artist on board -- Local Natives, Judah & the Lion, Now, Now, mewithoutYou and Paramore for a magazine spread -- I found time to wait about an hour in line to score this cruise-exclusive hoodie featuring lyrics from their single "Rose Colored Boy." I get tons of compliments on it, which is cool, and it's also the only hoodie I own whose graphic is sewn on instead of screen-printed, which is pretty rad if you don't like your stuff getting all faded from the wash. And I gotta come clean about the flag (because I know real Parahoy! heads would call me out): It's actually from the 2016 cruise. I just thought it would look cool in a GIF.
Hilary Hughes, senior editor
I picked this up when I saw the Rolling Stones play London Stadium back in May. It was their first hometown show in a whopping five years, and a doubly special gig because it was just down the road from the former East London bars and clubs they cut their teeth in.
Jess Xie, photo editor
I was instantly drawn to this sweatshirt at Billie Eilish's tour stop at Brooklyn Steel in November. I love the graffiti-style font and the neon colors.
Nolan Feeney, digital features editor
I don't know if blondes have more fun, but I do know that if you start wearing bright yellow t-shirts to work instead of black ones (as most of my band shirts are), the joy in your life increases ever so slightly -- I found myself smiling every time I caught my reflection and remembered I was wearing it. Lorde's Melodrama was my favorite album of 2017, so buying something from her show at Barclays Center in Brooklyn this past April was a must for me. If the color hadn't already sold me on it, the retro movie-credits-style typography would have.
Becky Kaminsky, social media manager
As a total John Mayer super fan, I jumped on the opportunity to get this limited-edition tee -- I bought it within minutes of Mayer posting the link on Instagram. The cover art for "New Light" felt so fun and unique for Mayer, I definitely needed it on a T-shirt forever. The fact that Mayer hadn't put out music for quite some time coupled with the fact that "New Light" is a non-album single made the Online Ceramics collab feel all the more special.
Katie Spoleti, photo assistant
I bought this T-shirt when I went to Beyonce & Jay-Z’s On The Run II Tour at MetLife Stadium in August. I missed seeing the power couple in 2014, so I knew I had to catch them this time around. What I really love most about this piece of merch is the story behind it. Right before the show was about to begin, it started downpouring! Most of the stadium had to be cleared out, and I was sure things were going to be canceled altogether. After an hour of uncertainty, the rain finally settled, and there they were: Bey and Jay standing hand-in-hand, reassuring the crowd that not even the weather could stop them. A true Bonnie & Clyde moment.
Rebecca Milzoff, deputy editor, features
It's my fave because seeing Fleetwood Mac live for the first time (and maybe as a whole for the last time?) was a bucket list concert for me -- and also weirdly my first stadium concert! Also it’s a super soft T-shirt.
Gab Ginsberg, senior editor
Tegan and Sara were on a musical hiatus this year, but I spotted this T-shirt on eBay over the summer and had to buy it. I love the looser fit, and it goes with everything on account of that fact that it’s black and grey (the two best colors). Nothing like a little retail therapy while your favorite band is on break!