What Is a Rider?

Definition & Examples of a Rider

Black man playing acoustic guitar and singing on stage.
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A rider is an addition to a contract. In the performing world, a rider specifies an artist's requirements when performing at a venue. It may include specific expectations when it comes to hospitality, security, and technical equipment.

Learn more about riders and how they work.

What Is a Rider?

You might have heard about riders that seem extravagant, and some are. In general, though, riders are a standard addition to a performing contract. They spell out what a performing artist needs to perform at their best. 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.

How a Rider Works

A performing artist and the event promoter for the venue typically sign a rider. It's not unusual for there to be some amount of negotiations before they're signed. Here are a few areas typically addressed in a rider.

Hospitality

Riders often require food and beverages to be available or provide a buy-out option, which is a ​pre-arranged amount of money that the promoter provides to the band to buy meals and drinks. It might also include information about special dietary requirements or preferences of the band, including the number of meals to be provided and preferred meal times.

Riders also address the number of dressing rooms a band requires. Some high-powered celebrity artists also request what kind of furniture they would like in the dressing rooms. If a promoter is putting the artist up in a hotel, artists can specify terms for those rooms and the number of rooms required.

Security and Technical Needs

Adequate venue security is a must. It protects you, your personal items, and your equipment. Promoters typically cover the cost of security at an event, and the rider will address specific security needs.

You may also want to limit who will have access to the performance area while you're setting up and doing sound checks. It's also common to specify what equipment will be necessary when you perform and place restrictions on where and how the show will be mixed.

A rider may also include a schedule for your performance that includes the amount of time needed for setup, sound checks, and meal breaks, and when the doors open for the audience.

Other Considerations

Riders may also cover additional financial terms. For example, you'll want to make sure you're compensated for reasonable out-of-pocket costs. Riders can also address advertising and promotional terms. You might address how you're billed on circulars, programs, and advertisements that are made available before and during the event. You could also require complimentary tickets for your friends and family.

Riders should also address insurance provisions, cancellation terms if something goes wrong and the show can't go on as planned, policies around recording the performance, and whether or not there will be interviews and meet-and-greets.

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.

Do I Need a Rider?

Having clear expectations for the venue is essential to ensure your comfort and financial well-being. How extensive you want to make the demands depends on your profile and your needs. At a minimum, your rider should address financial aspects of your performance, any needed security, and compensation for out-of-pocket costs,

If you're on a long tour, you'll be spending many of your waking hours in the green rooms at venues, so you may want to request comforts that make you feel relaxed and help you perform your best. Safety is important for you and your crew as well. For example, if you have food allergies, let the venue know and be specific about what foods you can and can't have. 

Key Takeaways

  • In the performing world, a rider specifies an artist's requirements when performing at a venue.
  • Riders can address every aspect of a performance, including hospitality, safety, technical needs, and cancellation policies. 
  • Riders set clear expectations for what you need to ensure your comfort and safety. 

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