What is An Artist Rider? An artist rider is part of the performance contract put together and signed by a performance artist and the event promoter. It outlines the criteria agreed upon in order to put on a performance. Its primary purpose is to make sure the artist is properly provided for during the event and during travel. Negotiations and compromises are common, unless the artist is a well-known celebrity and the promoter has deep pockets. Often, the artist rider is divided into sections, including the hospitality rider and the technical rider. They make up the majority of the rider, but more details go into it than just those two sections.

What Goes into an Artist Rider?

The artist rider is quite simply the requests made by the performer as conditions of putting on a performance, and it is attached to the performance contract. These are things that are typically in a rider:

    • Dressing Room and Hospitality Requirements—This section of the artist rider is typically where the most personal or outlandish requests may come into play. Some requests will be quite reasonable, such as having bottled water available in the performance venue’s back room. Most artists will make requests in order to help make the performance go smoothly for themselves and to be comfortable while preparing to perform. Others, however, can take a more “prima donna” approach to the dressing room and hospitality requirements.Dressing room requirements include required space and pre-performance entertainment, as well as specific décor, such as Mariah Carey and J. Lo requesting all white furniture. The hospitality requirements include any snack foods, beverages, or other amenities requested by the artist. Performers can request everything from condoms to their favorite alcoholic beverages for relaxing in the back room.
      Although requests can seem extravagant, you have to consider that some artists are touring or on the road the majority of the time, and they want to be well accomodated. They depend on promoters to offer them a healthy and comfortable experience in exchange for the money their performance brings in.

      Another option is to add a buy-out in the contract. The buy-out is an agreed upon amount of money that the promoter gives to the artist to use for food and drinks rather than actually purchasing provisions.

    • Security—Obviously, a celebrity artist will require some form of security in order to maintain their privacy and safety at an event. Inadequate security could well be grounds for even an easy-going artist to consider your performance contract void. Most riders will include instructions stating that the promoter is responsible for the cost of security at the event and near the dressing room at all times that the artist is present. Security provisions are not only about protecting the artist’s body, but also for protecting gear, equipment, wardrobe, instruments, and other personal property.
    • Technical/Stage Set-Up—The technical rider is actually 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 ruin the performance. In fact, some artists have claimed to make the outrageous claims in their hospitality riders solely to see how good the promoters are at following instructions—thus, ensuring proper technical set-up.
    • Ground Transportation—Although transportation seems like it should be fairly straightforward, even this can be a point of contention for some artists. At its most basic, this part of the rider details how the artist will travel to and from the venue, their hotel or accommodations, and other promo stops. The artist may request that a car be provided for them to drive, and others want a driver.
    • Comp Passes—There’s really not a lot of room for fussiness here. Most artists will need comp passes to hand out for free to their friends and the press to go backstage. But, it will need to be decided ahead of time how many should be made available.
    • Meals—Like the hospitality section of the rider, the meal section allows the artist to specify how much food they and their entourage will need. Any special dietary considerations are listed, such as organic produce only or vegetarian meals. As with the snack foods and beverages supplied in the hospitality section, the promoter may opt to do a buy-out rather than taking care of meals.
    • Parking—In many areas parking for tour buses or other vehicles can be an expense. Because of that, the artist may request that the promoter covers the cost of parking their vehicles and those of their entourage. If it seems unfair to cover their parking, remember that you are hiring them to make your event a success.
    • Interviews, Meet and Greets—If you’ve read my post about how to book a celebrity for an event, then you know you’ll need to contact the performer’s agent or manager for all arrangements. The artist’s rep must approve all interviews, meet and greets, and other promo commitments in advance. This is standard rider information that simply informs the promoter that they’ll have to go through the appropriate channels before putting any additional events on the artist’s schedule.
  • Broadcast Rights—The rights specified in this section are extremely important to most celebrities so that they can control their image and creative property. Typically, the promoter must have approval before recording the performance in any way. That includes sound recordings, video, and still photography. Many artists specify that a promoter cannot record, reproduce, broadcast, or transmit live from the venue without written authorization.

Typically, the more popular the performer, the more expensive are their rider requests. But, most requests are honestly to make going on the road a little easier for the artist, and to give the audience a better experience.