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What Is a Tour Rider

Riders have been an essential item for touring musicians for decades, but it’s not something everyone knows about, at least not by name. Today, we’re going to go over what tour riders are, and why they’re important.  

A tour rider is a document given to whoever is booking the tour to make sure all the musicians’ requirements to perform are met. This can be anything from essentials that need to be provided, to equipment specifications, to even what sort of food needs to be in their room. Riders provide details of exactly what they want completed for each venue on a tour. Some examples included in a rider could be specific lighting setup, plug specifications, stage size, favorite catering available upon arrival, or dressing room size.  


While you can find common items amongst most riders, they also can vary by the type of event. A rider written up for a big-name artist, for instance, will be significantly longer than one for a smaller indie artist. A rider written up for an arena tour will have different specifications than one written for a festival. The rider usually includes a mix of hospitality and technical requirements.  


In more recent years, there has been a rise of inclusion riders. They’ve seen popularity particularly in the electronic music scene (Source). Inclusion riders ensure that inclusion of under-represented groups such as women, people of color, or LGBTQ+ people make up a percentage of the lineup or venue workers. This is to make sure that underrepresented groups are given a fair chance for positions within the live music space. 


While riders are a list of requests, bookers are allowed to deny requests or negotiate terms if they’re unreasonable or unattainable. However, most of the time, bookers will follow the riders to the letter if the requests are feasible to adhere to. A lot of times, the requests may seem unreasonable on paper, but sometimes they are put in there to avoid a problem that the tour has experienced in the past. For example, maybe the stage setup needs a section for an effect/dance as a part of the show, and it seemed big enough, but on the day of, the setup doesn’t meet the specifications, so now the rider includes specific dimensions so that effect can happen safely and properly. Maybe in the past, the band performed at venues that cut corners to keep costs down like limiting power input or providing cheap, terrible food to the performers. To prevent that from happening, a rider would include requests for a certain output range and specific food to be provided. 


While there are plenty of valid requests that can be included in a tour rider, sometimes, the requests are so detailed and specific, it can be a burden for the booking venue to complete the requests. Looking at some of the most insane requests to come from artists over the years, it’s not hard to understand why someone would want to read through every line of a rider that winds up in their inbox to make sure they can handle it. 


Some very specific requests given by popular artists over the years include... 


  • Elton John requesting his dressing room to be 60°F in the summer and 70°F in the winter.   

 

  • Axl Rose, lead singer of Guns N’ Roses has asked for oddly specific things such as a cubic melon, six lamps, and two bear shaped pots of honey.  

 

  • Dan "Soupy" Campbell, lead singer for the pop punk band The Wonder Years stated in a video interview with Rock Sound that the band asked for, “a Hi-C Ecto Cooler on their rider as a joke, but once they got to an unnamed college in the UK, a woman on the staff apologized to the members of the band for not being able to locate the drink, due to it being discontinued, and so found the list of ingredients, compared them to modern juice drinks and found a near equivalent, before the band revealed to her that it was indeed a joke.” (Source) 

 

The most well-known tour rider that most are familiar with if it’s brought up is the one by Van Halen where they asked for M&Ms but to take out the brown ones. This seems to be the go-to example when the discussion of requests from artists comes up. Funnily enough, the band didn’t really do it to be difficult. They just wanted to see if venues they were going to were actually reading their riders in full. The M&Ms were a sign that they were professional and could be trusted.  


That’s ultimately what many riders boil down to. A professional agreement where both parties need to hold up their end of the deal. Riders are a way to ensure that artists and their crew are protected and treated well on tour and that venues aren’t just profiting off of them without treating them with respect along the way. 

There are a handful of crazy details found in tour riders to go over. If you’d like to see another blog discussing more requests written into riders by performers, let us know in the comments.


Thanks for reading!



Written by Kristen Petronio

2 comments

2 Comments


Garold Rafa
Garold Rafa
4 days ago

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Garold Rafa
Garold Rafa
4 days ago

thanks for info

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