Special Feature

What is a Rider in a Musician’s Contract?

Riders refer to the little extras a band receives from the promoter at a gig, usually in their dressing room.

Typical riders include things like food and beverages, or a pre-arranged amount of money that the promoter will provide to a band to buy themselves a meal and some drinks. The rider may also include information about special dietary requirements or preferences of the band. The rider will usually contain specific information, such as the number of meals that will be provided and at what time.

Riders can go beyond the basic food and beverage components to include things like the number of dressing rooms a band requires, what kind of furniture the band would like in the rooms, what kind of flowers they want in the dressing rooms, and more.

What is the Purpose of a Rider?

While some riders can be over the top, they serve a practical purpose too. Some eccentric requests are put in as a test; if the promoter finds it and follows it, it shows they read it carefully and are abiding by the contract. If they miss or ignore the rider, they could be missing other essential contractual demands, such as security or lighting.

Many of the riders are to make the artist more comfortable. Often when they are on tour, they are spending most of the waking hours in the green rooms at venues, so the comforts they demand are to make them feel more relaxed. It’s an opportunity to get comfortable while traveling.

Unless you are a major star, limit your rider demands to only the absolute essentials. For example, food allergies may mean you may have specific dietary needs. You also want to be sure you’re compensated for reasonable out-of-pocket costs. If you’re making ambitious demands, like certain-colored furniture or imported food, you need to be able to deliver very profitable gigs. Otherwise, you will get a reputation as difficult and high maintenance and lose out on opportunities.

Managers do you know about these things, do you ask promoters and even organizers about these things? Please do you sign contracts before agreeing to make your artiste perform at shows or you just agree on phone? Let us start doing things professionally. It is the only way Africa will develop its entertainment industry.

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