A lot of people might have heard the word “rider” going around. You might have also read around the web of some extravagant requests by some of the most famous artists in the world. In this article, we’ll be answering in detail this question and clarifying what an artist rider is. Ready? Well, all you need to know starts right now!
An artist rider specifies their requirements when performing at a venue. It’s makes sure the artist is properly provided for during the event and sets clear expectations for what they need to ensure comfort and safety. Sections include hospitality, safety, technical needs, and cancellation policies.
There are a lot of details that go into the artist’s rider. Usually involving everything they need either regarding hospitality or technical, in order for them to put on the best show, in the best way possible.
How Does It Work?
Generally speaking, riders are a standard addition to a performing contract. The document includes the details of what a performing artist (DJ, band, singer, dancer…you name it) needs to perform at their best. As a touring act, if you want to be sure that your contracts include everything you need for your safety and comfort, you should put these requirements in writing as riders to your contracts. It’s just the way things are done.
Typically, the performing artist and the event promoters sign a rider. It’s not unusual for there to be some amount of negotiations before they’re signed. Each rider includes several areas to be discussed:
What Goes Into An Artist Rider?
This section of the artist rider is typically where the most personal or outlandish requests may be listed. Usually, riders often include food and beverages to be available to the artists or provide a buy-out option which is a pre-arranged amount of money the promoter provides to the artist to buy meals and drinks. The rider might also include special instructions and special dietary information, or preferences for example regarding the number and type of meals to be provided and at specific meal times.
Still in the hospitality section, rides would typically include the number of dressing rooms required, some top-level celebrities might also specify the kind of furniture they would like in their dressing rooms. If the artist is being hosted in a hotel for example, artists can specify therms for their rooms and the number of rooms they require. Generally speaking, most artists will make reasonable requests in order to help make their performance as smooth and effortless as possible and to be comfortable while preparing to perform.
Although some requests can seem extravagant, keep in mind that some artists are touring or on the road the majority of the year, and they depend on promoters to offer them a healthy and comfortable experience in exchange for their performance and the money they will make because of it.
This is the most important part of the artist rider. This is where the actual equipment, sound, and DJ set-up is specified, and it’s the part of the artist rider that makes the most difference in the performance.
Many performers will not walk out on a performance because they get the wrong brand of chips or beer, but an unsatisfactory technical set-up can literally ruin the performance. To ensure a proper technical setup, some performers will make outrageous claims in their hospitality rider to see if the promoters will follow instructions. If they face no issues with the specific and weird hospitality rider, this guarantees that they will be able to provide the artist with a good technical rider, which helps make their performance the best it can be.
Typically, promoter cover the cost of security at an event, and the rider will address specific security needs. It’s common to specify what equipment will be necessary when you perform (in the technical rider) and place restrictions on where and how the show will be mixed. Security amenities are not only about protecting the artist’s body, but also for protecting gear, equipment, wardrobe, instruments, and other personal property.
The artists might be flying into the country and would require adequate means of transportation. Although it seems like it should be fairly straightforward, even this can be a point of disagreement for some artists. Basically, this part of the rider details how the artist will travel to and from the venue, their hotel or accommodations, and other promotional stops. The artist may request that a car be provided for them to drive, and others want a driver.
Interviews & Other Requests
One of the standard rider information is that the artist’s management or representation must approve all meetings, interviews and promotional commitments. This section of the rider makes sure that the promoter should have to go through the appropriate channels before putting any additional events on the artist’s schedule.
Celebrities will also need to stay in control of their image and protect any additional rights. For example some Armin Van Buuren live sets were not to be recorded due to many legalities. These broadcast rights are all specified in this section.
Riders may also cover additional financial terms: from extra tickets to family and friends, insurance provisions, all the way to cancellation terms.
The Most Extravagant Rider Requests
Deadmau5 and Steve Aoki both have required inflatables in their rider, with Deadmau5 specifying that it must be five feet in size. Aoki has been known to ride crowd-surf while riding in an inflatable raft.
Socks & Underwear
Moby, Steve Aoki, DJ Craze have asked for socks and underwear. As we mentioned previously in the article, when these artists are on a massive tour, they need to take care of themselves. With the hustle of hitting airports every day, taxis, and whatever other transportation, they end up needing to stock up on clean socks and underwear.
Calvin Harris prefers four small black hand towels, while Dirty South specifically asks for “four clean, white Egyptian cotton towels.” We’re not sure if he has a skin condition or just loves the white Egyptian cotton feel, but it definitely stands out.
Jack, Vodka & A Fruit Plate
These are the essentials of Zedd’s tour rider. His dressing room also includes a lot of candles.
“I’m super into candles, I just got into it,” he said. “We had a day off and one of our assistants bought a bunch of candles and I walked in and it felt so amazing I’m totally obsessed with candles now. I don’t even care if they’re on I just want to go buy candles and smell them. I just like something fresh and mellow and not too extreme, I don’t want it to smell like cologne just something nice and subtle. I’m so into candles, I can’t even believe I am.”
Dart Board With Nicolas Cage’s Face
Apparently, this extravagant request comes from Diplo. He’s revealed some outlandish requests himself! His list features gorillas, one arranged marriage and a dart board which has Nicolas Cage’s face on it. Now that’s weird.
One of the most infamous riders was from the band Van Halen back in the 1980s. They insisted on bowls of M&M candies with all the brown ones removed. According to lead singer David Lee Roth, they did this to make sure the venues were actually reading the riders, which included critical safety information, and not just glossing over them.
Animal-Print Throw Rug
Rihanna insists on blue or black drapes layered with “icy-blue chiffon.” She also needs an animal-print throw rug and has a very specific candle request: Archipelago Black Forest. Some of her other items include a humidifier, 5 AC power outlets and square vases with white tulips.
Heavily Seasoned Chicken Legs
Beyoncé demands her dressing room be kept at 78 degrees (25.5 degrees Celsius) and asks for chicken legs “HEAVILY SEASONED” with cayenne pepper and rose-scented candles. It is forbidden to include Coca-Cola products anywhere near her, that’s due to a contractual agreement with Pepsi.
Seven Dressing Rooms Together
Jay Z’s rider requires a confounding seven separate dressing rooms, as well as “good quality” peanut butter and jelly and a clean bucket of ice. His list of items includes 6 cans of Coca-Cola, another 6 cans of Redbull, 24 cold/24 room temperature Fiji Water, a love seat and a few more items.
In closing, we can note that the more popular the performer, the more expensive their rider requests will be. But, most requests are honestly to make going on the road a little easier for the artist, and to eventually give the audience a better experience and performance.