Music artists with the most valuable merchandise

Merch is saving the music industry. At least that’s the view expressed by a number of commentators in recent months. In The Guardian, Lauren Cochrane highlighted the importance of merch as a revenue stream for artists. Justin Hawkins of The Darkness reacted to Cochrane’s piece via his YouTube Channel, adding that artists like himself are increasingly reliant on the higher percentage cut they receive from merch. That’s in contrast to the dwindling percentages they typically receive from ticket, record and digital sales.

If merch sales are the new record sales, why not have a chart? In the tradition of pitting artists against one another in a race to the number one spot, we’ve created some charts of our own. Our team here at Solopress have analysed a myriad of merch metrics to find the top 30 artists with the most prized products.

A merch stallBy looking at the price of merch advertised on eBay and artists’ official websites, alongside the search volumes around their merchandise, we’ve been able to uncover which artists have the most internationally in-demand merch.

The music artists with the most in-demand merch

When we want to get our hands on a piece of merchandise, most often, we’ll start by Googling it. With that principle in mind, we looked at the search volume for terms such as “*Artist name* merch” to determine the artists with the most in-demand products.

Taylor Swift Fans queue to buy merch
Taylor Swift Fans queue to buy merch

The top 20 music artists with the most in-demand merch in 2023: 

Rank Artist name Average search volume per month for artists’ merch Average search volume yearly for artists’ merch
1 Taylor Swift 6345 76140
2 Lana Del Rey 3660 43920
3 Arctic Monkeys 2240 26880
4 Coldplay 1450 17400
5 The Weeknd 1395 16740
6 Beyoncé 1145 13740
7 Eminem 930 11160
8 Ariana Grande 720 8640
9 Ed Sheeran 600 7200
10 Kendrick Lamar 585 7020
11 Queen 480 5760
12 Radiohead 475 5700
13 Lady Gaga 415 4980
14 Drake 395 4740
15 Justin Bieber 350 4200
16 Adele 265 3180
17 Imagine Dragons 230 2760
18 Red Hot Chili Peppers 230 2760
19 Nicki Minaj 145 1740
20 The Killers 125 1500

These rankings reveal more than just a peek into the fan closets; they’re a mirror reflecting the modern dynamics between music and fashion. Artists like Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey aren’t just topping charts with their tunes; they’re also striking chords with merchandise that fans can’t wait to get their hands on. The monthly and yearly search volumes demonstrate a real hunger for these connections, extending a love for music into a love for fashion.

Lana Del Rey signs merch for fans
Lana Del Rey signs merch for fans

What makes a piece of merchandise click might be its uniqueness, the story it tells, or the fashion statement it makes. In the entangled worlds of music and lifestyle, it seems that catchy tunes plus an on-trend tee is a potent, but not guaranteed, recipe for success.

When artists are on tour, their merchandise typically trends much more, while there is usually a noticeable dip once their tour comes to an end. Artists who buck this trend with in-demand stock, whether they’re on stage or not, can be seen as having merch that stands the test of time.

The music artists with the most valuable merch

Here’s a list that every merch-loving fan will want to check. Our ranking is based on an index that takes into account four significant factors: Number of items listed on eBay, the average price of merchandise items on eBay, the number of items listed on the artists’ official websites, and the average price of merchandise items sold through these sites.

Queen merchThe top 20 music artists with the most valuable merch in 2023:

Index Artist name Number of items listed on Ebay Average price of merchandise item on Ebay Number of items listed on website Average price of merchandise item through artists website
1 Queen 524 £21.23 414 £47.00
2 Drake 171 £31.13 23 £236.18
3 Radiohead 13 £45.71 454 £25.18
4 Lana Del Rey 18 £175.21 13 £50.08
5 Kanye West 83 £96.56 61 £67.99
6 Taylor Swift 86 £90.27 126 £38.19
7 Justin Bieber 390 £15.19 34 £54.44
8 Beyoncé 28 £69.47 5 £40.12
9 Rihanna 11 £70.50 8 £42.78
10 U2 66 £37.38 20 £52.37
11 Lady Gaga 35 £40.33 52 £36.21
12 Red Hot Chili Peppers 45 £21.14 64 £48.05
13 The Weeknd 29 £44.80 22 £42.27
14= Ed Sheeran 62 £33.48 55 £26.17
14= Ariana Grande 53 £27.37 49 £40.53
15 The Killers 18 £18.09 89 £44.92
16 Kendrick Lamar 6 £35.91 29 £49.51
17 Eminem 48 £32.11 24 £28.05
18 Chris Brown 1 £15.22 46 £49.38
19 Nicki Minaj 4 £24.40 64 £18.96
20 Katy Perry 10 £27.41 20 £30.70

Examining the names featured, there’s a striking blend of current pop sensations and timeless rock legends. The strong showing of classic artists like Queen, Radiohead, and U2 is a testament to their enduring appeal and the treasure-trove status of their memorabilia. In contrast, newer names in the industry are forging their paths, with fresh designs that resonate with their massive fan bases.

The Drake equation

A surprising statistic among the data is the average price of a merchandise item from Canadian rapper Drake. This average is an astonishing five times higher than the typical per-item cost of items from other artists on the list.

Award winner: Drake
Award winner: Drake

This high average is driven by items like a £328 pair of socks, a £3,239 blanket, a £2,777 dressing gown, and a £786 eye mask, all available from the artist’s website. These extraordinary figures reflect both the artist’s ostentatious positioning and his devoted following, known as the #drakehive, that’s willing to splurge on exclusive items.

The Band T-shirts trend among celebs and fashion houses

Merch is certainly riding a fashion wave at the moment, with celebs and influencers stepping out in band Tees both current and classic. The result is high-profile designer brands producing their own versions aimed at their fashionista clientele.

Star man: actor Peter Dinklage wears a David Bowie T-shirt
Star man: actor Peter Dinklage wears a David Bowie T-shirt

The celebrity influence cannot be underestimated in this phenomenon, with stars often wearing tees from bands like MC5, The Ramones, Motorhead, Nirvana, Iron Maiden and Guns ‘n’ Roses. Kendall Jenner has been snapped wearing a Slayer T-shirt, while Demi Lovato is fond of an AC/DC tee. Harry Styles seems to have a wardrobe full of them, including examples from Kiss, The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd.

Fashion fad or astute investment?

Furthermore, designers are not just reproducing these shirts; they’re recreating them. The Yves Saint Laurent Nirvana T-shirt, for example, is a designer’s homage to the classic band tee, that barely deviates from the original, but will set you back around £3,857. This melding of street style and high fashion further enriches the conversation around band tees, transforming them from mere fan souvenirs to valuable fashion commodities.

This trend raises interesting questions around band T-shirts as investments. Some iconic band shirts have reached collector’s item status and are auctioned for thousands of dollars. The rarity and nostalgic value attached to these shirts are driving prices up, with savvy fans and collectors recognising them as tangible assets with cultural capital. As with any investment, though, a risk should be considered, especially when driven by passing fashion trends. Whether blue-chip or bubble, the band T-shirt trend is a fascinating intersection of music, fashion, and commerce.

Creating a community

Fan buys T-shirt

Solopress also spoke with Chris Oatway, former artist consultancy founder, who comments;  “Merchandise can not only provide an income towards tours, it is a huge promotional tool asset for the community of fans and can help fans feel part of that community. People love showing their support for their favourite bands by buying their merchandise and wearing it for concerts and as leisurewear.

“Some items can be highly collectable and be treated as an investment – especially limited edition merch. Clothing, coasters and posters that display and celebrate album covers, band members and song lyrics can trigger treasured memories and nostalgia for all parties. Merch can also be used for competitions and incentives… serving as a filler when there’s no music being released.”

The merits of merch whatever your market

You don’t have to be a big name in the music industry to benefit from branded merchandise. Some well-designed apparel or an indispensable item can create an added revenue stream while spreading your message far and wide. Diverse ventures from podcasts to skate brands have launched successful merchandise sidelines that have simultaneously boosted their brands and raised funds in the process.

Businesses without the necessary brand equity to demand a premium for their merchandise are still able to take advantage of customised gear. Explore the Promotional Products on offer from Solopress to create irresistible giveaways that will get your logo seen far and wide.