you will hopefully find a lot of them here in Cook Backstage as we go on. But do we know what we are talking about?
A Tour Rider is a document that includes a set of rules that a performer sets as criteria for a performance. This includes all requests or demands either for the artist’s comfort or the technical details needed to perform.
A TOUR RIDER USUALLY CONSISTS OF TWO PARTS: The hospitality and the technical rider
The Hospitality Rider is a list of requests all for the comfort of the artist on the day of the show. Starting from his arrival in town, until departure, all details on transportation, accommodation, food and beverage requests, backstage supplies are here.
Common requests include:
Specified food and drinks requests: Number of persons to feed, preferred lunch or dinner menus, times for serving, snacks or food or drinks required for backstage, even some times supplies needed for the artist’s personal chef that follows on tour.
Transportation details, hotels, room requirements.
Other items needed backstage like towels, ice, bottle openers etc.
A runner (person or persons hired to act as required to help with band and crew needs).
Security personnel and locking rooms, access to a private bathroom or shower.
The Technical Rider is a document that specifies the technical details of the agreement, type of equipment to be used, staff to be provided and other business arrangements.
Common requests include:
Sound: the type of Sound system, the preferred Sound desk, Channel input list – a list of the instruments being used including preferred microphones and inserts, Monitor requirements, Power Requirements etc.
Lighting: the number and type of Spotlights to be used, lighting technicians, Power requirements, Truss weightings etc
Backline: Some bands will not transport the full backline due to the expense of transport (generally if performing only a few times in each country/area) and may have the venue provide some to all of it.
Crew: riders typically specify the number of local crew the venue should provide as well as any technical staff.
On occasion, an artist’s Rider may be seen as unreasonable or excessive.
There are some strange requests, or they sometimes ask for something that can’t be done!
These “Unreasonable Requests“ (if legal but sometimes even if not) are contractual obligations. Failure to meet such terms can compel performance fees to be paid without a performance.
But why these requests exist?
Van Halen requested in his Rider that a bowl of M&M’s should be provided in their dressing room with the brown ones removed. Failure to do so would not only mean that the band would not perform, but the venue would still have to pay the full fee.
The objective of this was not due to any excesses on the part of the band, but was a method to determine how much attention to detail the crew at a local venue paid to the requests specified in the Rider. Should the bowl be absent, or if brown M&M’s were present, it would give band members reason to suspect other, legitimate, technical and safety issues were also being performed poorly or were outright overlooked.
David Lee Roth stated in his autobiography that this request was made as a result of faulty workmanship at a venue on an earlier tour which nearly cost the life of a member of Van Halen’s road crew. He added that at one venue where he found brown M&M’s, the management’s failure to read weight requirements in the Rider resulted in the band’s equipment sinking through the floor and causing over $80,000 of damage.
Another similar request was made by Faith No More in their 2010 Tour: “Our Tour Manager will carry a Knife and is allowed to stab anyone desired”. Another way to determine how much attention to the Rider the promoter did pay: If a promoter wouldn’t oppose to such a request, how sure can the band be that he did read the Rider?