Guitars on Stage
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Over the years we have heard artist rider horror stories from event planners and booking clients alike. So we thought we would provide our OriGigs community with an artist rider definition, whilst also describing what to expect and how avoid catastrophe at your event.

Artist Rider Definition: An artist rider is a clause or provision that is attached to a contract and should be considered as part of the booking contract.

Fundamentally, and aside from being contractual, the purpose of an Artist Rider is to ensure total clarity between all relevant parties (the act, booking agent, promoter and venue) so that everything required for the performance is in place and that there are zero surprises from load-in and load-out.

The Performance Fee

When booking artists to perform at your event you will typically be first quoted a “Performance Fee”. The performance fee is the price quoted by the Artist / Band / Act to perform at your event or production and may or may not be the final fee due depending on the act being considered.

Some Acts are “self contained”, meaning their performance fee is the final cost while others, such as bands and touring performers for example, have additional requirements which are listed within the Rider. These do form part of the overall legal contract and the booking client / promoter is obliged to honour them.

Artist Rider Types

Some Acts are “self contained”, meaning their performance fee is the final cost while others, such as bands and touring performers for example, have additional requirements which are listed within the Rider. These do form part of the overall legal contract and the booking client / promoter is obliged to honour them.

Artist Rider Types

There can be two types or sections to an artist rider within a booking contract:

  1. Technical Rider
  2. Hospitality Rider

Technical Rider

A technical rider is a document that can be anything from 1 to over 30 pages in length. It details all the technical details and requirements that the act needs to be able to perform “as promoted / advertised”. This generally includes the type of equipment to be used and experienced staff to be provided. Common items found in a “Tech Rider” are:

  • Audio – Sound system type, preferred sound desk (this can be down to the specific brand and model for some more high profile acts), list of channel inputs, instrument list, microphones and inserts required (make, model, type & quantity), monitor & power requirements, etc.
  • Lighting – From lighting plots to specific details regarding conventional and intelligent lighting, consoles, truss systems, power requirements, and on wards.
  • Backline – If included in the Tech Rider, the backline will likely itemize musical instruments required (drum kits etc) instrument amps, etc.

Backline & Frontline

You are more likely to hear about Backline and Frontline requirements when booking bands. As a very high level definition, backline refers to equipment placed behind the band while frontline, (yup, you guessed it), refers to equipment placed in front of the band on-stage.

A venue may agree to provide all frontline equipment but request that the band provides all their backline needs, especially if there is more than one band playing in the line-up. Conversely, a touring band may require that their backline is provided, partially or entirely, to reduce transport expenses and bureaucratic red tape (the Carnet for example).

Hospitality Rider

The hospitality rider is the rider that attracts the most mirth among those not in the industry. Although Riders, as part of the contract, should always be treated as “confidential”, verbiage from famous “A” List bands have leaked out over the years.

Perhaps the best known of these is Van Halen’s hospitality rider clause which stipulated the provision of M&M’s in the dressing room but that all brown M&M’s must be removed beforehand. They later clarified this requirement as a means to ensure that their Rider had been thoroughly read; no brown M&M’s meant that all other critical details had likely been actioned and accounted for by the Promoter.

The hospitality rider will, if applicable, detail accommodation and transport requirements as well as food & beverage (dietary requirements) and can even include items of clothing, towels and more. If you are booking “A” List / Headline acts, you can expect the hospitality rider to be much more extensive in their demands.

At OriGigs, and as standard, we request that all acts are provided with a private and secure room to change in and store their equipment, that all members of the Act are provided with freeflow drinking water / soft drinks and at least one hot meal and that arrangements for free parking on-site have also been made. These requirements are only reasonable given the amount of time that any given act is required to be on-site. These are our basic clauses. Headline Artists can override these with their own Hospitality Rider.

Are Riders Negotiable?

To some extent, yes, although any attempt to meddle with Tech Riders should be done with great care; changes made to an acts tech rider can have a significant impact on performance quality. For Private Events, a more high profile act may agree to down-scaling their normal stage size for example. Security and backstage requirements (and practicalities) differ enormously between public and private events too.

Our advise in all cases would be to tread cautiously with Tech Rider negotiations but scrutinize any Hospitality Rider. Don’t be too aggressive with your negotiation from the outset; no matter the public profile of the act, it is important that they know you will appreciate them with an appropriate level of comfort and on-site experience.

Take the opportunity to thoroughly review the clauses before submitting any offer or finalizing the booking agreement. Saying “no” at this juncture is the second best answer. Trying to deal with and renegotiate Riders post contractual sign-off is not where you want to be.

Artist Booking Fee Transparency

Any band or act featured in the Origigs Roster will be able to issue relevant Tech and Hospitality Riders before the booking contract is signed. As the booking client, you are absolutely entitled to request and be provided with these Contractual Addendum and our team will also ensure that you are alerted when a Rider applies to the booking.

Artist Rider Summary

If you are booking headline entertainment for your upcoming public or private event, do request clarity on the Artist / Tour Rider and don’t fall into the “inexperience” trap budgeting for performance fees whilst overlooking additional and critical clauses contained in Riders which can have significant cost implications.

We heard about one (famous) headline act booked for a charity event where the artist had waived their performance fees entirely. The organiser duly erased all performer costs from the event budget only to get hit with un-budgeted expenses that exceeded US$100,000 for Rider fulfillment (Important – we were not involved in this booking in any way, shape or form, I hasten to add).

The most important thing is to review any Rider thoroughly and sign-off on the contract when you and the artist have mutually agreed to do so. It is then imperative to fulfill each clause itemized in the Rider so that when the act arrives they are happy and will perform the best possible show. Everybody wins!

Glossary Recap

  • Backline: Instruments and associated equipment required for the performance that is placed on stage behind the band (instruments & drum kits, instrument amps, etc).
  • Frontline: You may come across the term “Frontline” in a tech rider. This refers to equipment placed on stage in front of the band; PA Systems, monitors etc.
  • Gig: An engagement, job or performance date.
  • Technical Staff: Used in shows incorporating sound, light, staging, AV, music, entertainment and production. Technical staff have sufficient understanding and proficiency and are responsible for providing services in all these areas to run the show.

Asia Booking Agency - Music & Talent