Headphone Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Headphone Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Every tattoo tells a story and holds a special meaning to the individual or their community. Have you ever wondered what story headphone tattoos hold? 

Music lovers get headphone tattoos to showcase their love of music. The tattoo meaning could also include that they are self-observant individuals who choose to see the world through their own eyes. These tattoos widely range in size and appearance, which affects the tattoo’s meaning for the individual. 

If you have ever wondered about the history of headphone tattoos or their symbolism, you have come to the right place! In this article, I will be breaking down everything you need to know about headphone tattoos.


What is the History of Headphone Tattoos

Music-themed tattoos started to appear around the 1970s. This era saw the invention and uprising of the punk and heavy metal music cultures. 

Besides the music that brought them together, these two cultures depend on anti-social attitudes that refute what everyone else favors to establish their identities.  

Punk and heavy metal lovers aim to be unique compared to other cultures. The best way for self-expression? Tattoo parlors.

At first, the tattoos gotten were just generic ones mainly found on the bodies of other rogues of society. With these two different people groups trying to identify themselves uniquely, music tattoos began to spring up.

The first music tattoos were mostly band symbols. Having a band tattoo showed how committed to that particular culture you were.

Music tattoos have evolved into all sorts of different symbols through the years. Music tattoos have remained popular, from album covers to faces of artists, even to the most popular of recent trends: headphone tattoos.


What do Headphone Tattoos Symbolize?

All tattoos can have personal and generic meanings. Each personal meaning comes from the individual’s mind alone. Two of the most common ideas of symbolism behind headphone tattoos are:

  • The individual is reserved and self-observant.
  • The individual is an avid music lover.

Usually, the symbolism for a headphone tattoo includes both of the above ideas. However, sometimes a person may get the tattoo as an avid music lover but may not be as reserved. 

Reserved or Self-Observant

People with headphone tattoos are likely more self-observant. Many live by the motto “headphones on- world off.” 

Self-observant people tend to prefer observing things for themselves. Headphones can symbolize how they allow themselves room to see the world through their own eyes, in their unique way by closing off the noise of the outside world. 

These people tend to be more reserved, making them likely to be introverts. Their quiet nature allows them to be noticers. 

They may also consider all the lessons they have learned from music to be integral to who they are as self-observers. 

Love of Music 

Headphone tattoos may be a symbol of how much a person loves music. If music is a piece of their everyday lives or a source of great joy and peace, an individual may choose to get a tattoo of headphones to represent that. 


What do Headphone Tattoos Mean?

A headphone tattoo means an individual is a part of the music culture. The tattoo could indicate that they are likely either: 

  • Musicians
  • Music fans
  • DJs

Generally, it means that the individual is a creative soul with a love of music. 

Size plays a big part in the meaning of a headphone tattoo. A smaller tattoo would mean the individual is more reserved, whereas a giant tattoo of headphones would highlight their bold creativity. 


Where do Headphone Tattoos Usually Go?

Headphone tattoos usually go on arms or legs. A wrist is a common place for someone to get earbud tattoos. 

However, since headphones can be a statement piece, they can also often be found inked on the back or around the neck of the individual. 

Many also choose to place a small tattoo of headphones behind their ear. This simple tattoo placement often portrays the individual’s goal of showcasing their reflectiveness and love of music. 


Characteristics and Styles of Headphone Tattoos

There are endless possibilities for headphone tattoos when you have creativity or a creative tattoo artist nearby. Here are some common characteristics of the tattoos:

  • Soundwaves
  • Skulls
  • Hearts
  • Microphones
  • Lyrics


You can choose from two popular ideas when styling a headphone tattoo with soundwaves. The first popular style has the soundwaves between the headphones, while the second uses the cords to create soundwaves. 


Many people like to include skulls in their tattoos. The most common placement is to have the skull wearing the headphones. 


Do not let traditional society fool you. Hearts can be both sentimental and sweet, as well as edgy and unique in the tattoo world. Some choose to have the headphones create a heart shape, while many choose to have the heart wear the headphones. 

If you like the idea of using a heart, but want a little edgier look, consider going with a realistic-looking one!

Many individuals choose to place soundwaves within the heart. This design gives off the appearance of a broken heart, but when you look closely, you can see that it is soundwaves. 


For a classy, music-loving look, some choose to add a microphone to their tattoo. The microphone style typically used is a classic retro microphone. Often the headphones are resting on top of the retro microphone to portray a sense of that just-recorded feeling. 


Perhaps one of the more popular music-themed tattoo ideas is the addition of lyrics. This characteristic adds a more personal touch to an individual’s tattoo because they portray their favorite style of music. Lyrics also show some insight into what a person values. 

Lyrics are usually added either in the middle of a larger headphone tattoo or just right beside the tattoo. You can also have the cords form the words of the lyrics.



In conclusion, headphone tattoos are a form of music tattoos that keep evolving in recent history. They come with various meanings that can be affected by their size or the characteristics included. Headphones are a perfect tattoo if you are a music lover and want to show that off to the world, whether in a reserved or bold way.

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