As arguments over merch cuts rage on, HEALTH are now selling butt plugs at gigs

(Image credit: Daniel Roland Tierney)

It's no secret that earning a sustainable income as a touring musician has become increasingly challenging in recent years, with escalating fuel prices, rising rates for work permits and visas, inflation, currency devaluation and additional bureaucratic/admin costs squeezing profits to a point where artists have openly admitted that they simply can no longer afford to take their music to fans worldwide.

In October, the entertainment website Vulture bluntly stated: The Live-Music Industry Is Broken, citing the cancellation of tours by Little Simz, Santigold, Animal Collective, Arlo Parks and more as evidence. The recent online discourse about rising merch costs and the ethics of venues taking substantial cuts from merch sales are further indications that these are difficult times for the majority of touring artists.

In such a climate, bands are being forced to consider alternative revenue streams: for LA industrial rockers HEALTH, that means the introduction of band-branded butt plugs, which will be sold at the merch table on their upcoming Dark Territory tour in the US with Author & Punisher.

The band flagged up this novel merch line in social media posts, but have yet to reveals the cost of their new range. Fan comments beneath the posts are... eye-opening, if that's the appropriate term.

You can check out the plugs - and indeed the band - for yourself at the following shows:

Mar 31: Parsippany Dark Force Fest, NJ
Apr 01: Hamden Space Ballroom, CT
Apr 02: Washington DC Union Stage
Apr 04: Columbus A&R Music Bar, OH
04/06 Madison High Noon Saloon, WI
04/07 Hamtramck Small’s (Fixation Festival), MI
04/08 Cleveland Grog Shop, OH
04/09 Pittsburgh Thunderbird Music Hall, PA
04/15 San Diego Music Box, CA

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.