Live Music Exchange Blog

Wristband Revolution – Craig Franks


Today’s guest post, by Craig Franks, looks at the ways in which wristbands are put to use beyond simply serving as a token of entry to a concert. The focus of nostalgia, and collectors items in a burgeoning marketplace, their applications outlast the event itself and he gives some insights into the resale market as well as looking to the future and the growing use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tagged bands.

Have you ever gone to a concert and woken up the next morning with the admissions wristband still on your wrist? Are you loathe to take it off? Have you ever wondered why you want to keep your concert wristband instead of tossing it into the trash?

There are a wide variety of reasons why we continue to wear our concert wristbands long after an event has ended, not least nostalgia, keeping up with trending bracelets, and collecting old wristbands as collector’s items or for resale. These are three of the main reasons to keep a concert wristband instead of throwing it away, and we will explore each of them in more depth below:


If you love a band and had a great time at a concert, then the wristband you get to enter the concert serves much like a ticket stub. It reminds you of the fun you had at the concert and puts you back in the experience every time you look at the wristband.
Those looking to return to a moment of joy or happiness are wont to keep hold of souvenirs in the hope that their memory can be rekindled and expressed through the item itself. As Simon Frith has noted elsewhere on this blog, the live music experience outlasts the event itself and ticket stub souvenirs serve as a physical link to the more ephemeral feelings of happiness associated with the event, kept in the hope of evoking those emotions in the ‘afterlife’ of the physical concert experience. A wristband, worn on the body as opposed to tacked to a wall or filed away, takes the connection a stage further.

Bracelet Trend

Some concert-goers simply like the look of concert wristbands and keep them so that they can wear them with other fashions. Some wristbands are made of silicon, others from paper and fabric. Rubbery wristbands made of silicon are especially fashionable, evoking the look of popular message charity bracelets such as ‘Livestrong’. Concert-goers might collect silicon bands in different colours and wear them together with an outfit as a creative accessory.

Athletes sometimes wear ‘power’ bracelets to help them to break through to a personal best or achieve a higher jump, faster time or simply better results within their sport. Although there is much to be said for this being a placebo effect there is also something to that placebo giving them a feeling of confidence to help them break though whatever barrier it is they are facing. The main point of any talisman isn’t the object itself but its emotional effect.

In terms of a music event you have been to and experienced then a similar notion applies. Wearing a wristband from a specific event may help to keep in mind the sense of elation, connection and being a part of something bigger than yourself. This also ties into how musical events can be an important part of someone’s identity and wearing the bracelet is a constant reminder of being connected to a particular festival or iconic music event. Individuals can sometime reject their original cultural identities in favour of a particular music genre. The sense of community and worship sometimes found through religion is found at a music event instead. This can be a very powerful experience and so the wristband from the event can become part of who the concert-goer perceives themselves to be. In these cases it’s not just a fashion statement but, like a band t-shirt or poster, also a statement of identity.

A commonly known scenario is the Woodstock Festival of 1969. Those who attended are considered to have been a part of something unique – a powerful time in musical and social history. Any beads or necklaces they would have obtained there may well have been kept and worn over the years to help them rekindle the feelings and memories of this historical music event.

In more recent times, festivals such as Glastonbury and V festivals would hope to mimic and capitalise on that impact and so the wristband which proves this connection and identity becomes a treasured prize ­­– it says ‘I was there’ and marks membership of a particular club.

Collecting Wristbands

Some concert-goers collect wristbands for their personal collection or for re-sale. A mint condition concert wristband can generate some income if the concert was sold out or if the concert was for a big band hosting an anniversary tour. eBay has become a haven for those looking to sell rare and valuable wristbands.  Just last year an uncut V-Fest VIP wristband was sold for £51.00 on eBay, a steep price considering that the wristband has become a glorified fashion accessory.  How many people would meet that price for a fabric bracelet? Clearly the symbolic capital of the event itself, and having attended it, rubs off onto the market price of the physical item.







Keep in mind that if you are trying to re-sell concert wristbands, you will have to try to keep them in as mint condition as possible. That means you should try to slip them off your wrist (which can be quite difficult to do) without having to cut them or stretch them out. If the wristband is made of silicon, it will stretch a little naturally. If you have to cut the wristband, then do so in a place that is inconspicuous.  Don’t be tempted to cut at the fastening point; this will be the hardest to repair.  Instead locate an area of plain design on the band and make a clean cut.  Uncut wristbands are demonstrably more valuable for resale, as are those that are clean and undamaged.

The Future of RFID

Many concert venues are trying out reusable RFID-enabled (Radio Frequency Identification)  wristbands. They offer these wristbands to ticket purchasers instead of paper tickets. When a concert-goer enters the venue, they wave their RFID-enabled wristband over a detection machine and then return the wristband at the end. The concert venue can then re-program and re-distribute the wristbands for other events. This trend will affect concert-goers who like to collect wristbands because they will no longer be able to keep their wristbands as a souvenir or as collector’s item.

RFID operates by encoding an identity into a small chip embedded within the wristband.  Each chip is assigned to the purchaser, with a digitised ID unique to that person.  This puts an end to the swapping of wristbands to allow friends in, as one will have to swipe in and out with one’s personal RFID, and the gates can be utilised to let only one person pass per bracelet.  Coachella Festival in California this year debuted their RFID festival wristbands in an effort to increase security, but also to integrate social media. Festivalgoers could store Facebook information on their bracelets and update their pages with the stage they were at, the band they were seeing, etc.  The event organisers could also far more easily measure the numbers at the venues, regulating crowd control and adhering to procedure.

If you are someone who loves concerts, then you might also love collecting the wristbands you receive to enter the concert venue. With the introduction of RFID-enabled wristbands that are re-usable and that must be returned to the concert venue, your chances of collecting concert wristbands are declining. But the majority of concert venues are still using traditional methods of paper tickets and wristbands. So for now, you can still amass your collection.

Many concert-goers who do not want to take off their wristbands long after an event has ended thus do so for one of three reasons. First, they treat the wristband like a ticket stub and keep it as nostalgic souvenir that reminds them of the concert and the overall experience. Second, they wear the wristbands as a creative, resourceful accessory to their everyday fashions. And third, they collect the concert wristbands for their own personal collection or for resale on an online market.

Whatever personal reasons people have for collecting concert wristbands – and they may well fit into all three categories – for now these aims are still viable as many concert venues are still using wristbands that can be taken home with the concert-goer. As with the technologies of concerts themselves, new developments will change the post-concert experience and as we take our live experiences online, the future uses for wristbands looks wide open.

Author Bio:  Craig Franks has worked in the music and concert industry for eight years, and now works in the logistical arm of events for MPM Wristbands.

Please note that this is a forum for discussion, dialogue, and debate, and posts and comments on this blog represent only the author, not Live Music Exchange as a whole, or any other hosting or associated institutions.


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