What if I told you that the biggest collections of original concert posters have never reached the secondary market? Troves of historical pop culture collectibles just lying in wait to be unleashed on the public. Now, the public is beginning to see those posters hit the market. And just like that – a whole industry is starting to get hot. But could posters ever rival comics? The answer isn’t ‘no’. And here’s why.
Why Concert Posters Have the Potential to Reach the Size of the Comic Books Collectible Category
Similar to comic book and video game collecting, concert poster collecting has not always been done with a monetary goal in mind. Concert posters fit right into a mantra; “Anything that’s truly collectible needs to be originally consumed in some way”. The tension between consuming and preserving is part of what creates the market for collectible categories.
The reason beanie babies aren’t worth much today is that, right out of the gate, consumers wanted them to be collectibles and they were decently accessible. The anticipation that they could be worth real money someday kept them on shelves instead of in our hands. And none of us were able to touch that precious TY tag. But consider comics. 8-year-olds weren’t putting them in protective cases and setting them on shelves. They were consuming them. They pored over each page, sometimes reading them until the binding came loose.
Same with video games. Who actually opened that Super Mario Bros. on Christmas morning in 1987 and then decided to keep those games in the sealed box? Hardly anyone, because with video games, the act of consumption is pulling the game out of the box and playing it.
Concert posters were consumed as well. They were created for practical uses – to advertise upcoming shows. They were stapled to telephone poles, dropped into puddles, and folded and stuffed in pockets. They were then discarded or left to slowly decay as they were exposed to the elements. And because of those factors and the temptation of nostalgia, concert posters have the same propensity to become a highly coveted collectible – just like comics, sports cards, video games, and other childhood ephemera.
The Rule of 25
Just as with other collectibles, concert posters have a time maturity element. Generally speaking, newer items in any collectible market are easier to find and in larger quantities than older pieces. With plenty of available inventory of the newer works, people are able to buy them in “real-time”. Right after you see a concert, it’s easy to find a poster from the event. If you’re like most people who consider themselves collectors, these pieces get stored or displayed somewhere and are left alone to perhaps appreciate in value over the years.
This is where the 25-year cycle begins. A young collector from the 90s might recall reading Carnage’s first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #361, playing Mortal Kombat, going to see Green Day play live, and playing Magic the Gathering or Pokemon for the first time. As these people mature over the next 25 years, they begin to diverge as an audience and get economically categorized. Some of those folks now have the capacity to spend more money on the collectible items they desire. Once they economically age into being able to afford higher-priced items, the supply of those items shrinks, especially in higher-grade surviving items.
How do you know the value of Concert Posters?
Concert posters have notoriously small print runs. A town advertising a show only needs to print enough to advertise to its immediate citizens. A band getting its start would have an even smaller print count. Should that band end up making it big, those early posters will become immediately desirable.
Other posters might become desirable because of the artist. Similar to being a fan of comic books because of the cover artist, concert poster artists have followings of their own.
But what about monetary value?
You have a concert poster in your hands. It’s in great condition and advertises the first performance of a band that’s now legendary. But when you look for sales, you can’t find any. It’s never sold on eBay or shown up at an auction house. So how much is it worth?
Many concert poster collectors face this question when they look to add to their collection. While sales have begun to trickle out, there are still countless posters that have not crossed the block yet.
The best way to evaluate your posters is by talking to other collectors. Ask questions; compare notes; talk about the monetary value of nostalgia, with the understanding that posters will have different values to different people depending on their thoughts on the groups advertised on the work.
Sharing your insight and gaining the opinions of others will help you land on a price you feel good about, whether buying or selling. Currently, there are Facebook groups, our own Concert Poster Price Guide, and other chat rooms you can reference to connect to other collectors and help yourself determine poster value.
There are exciting things happening in the Concert Poster market, and we’re all excited to watch them play out. This collectible industry is built on childhood memories. Getting to put a piece of your youth on the wall lets you relive the experience every time you look at it. After all – everyone remembers their first concert.