Booking Workshop: Riders
Hosts: Dougie Souness, No Half Measures (UK) & Ben Challis, Glastonbury Festival (UK)
Keith Wood, Production Solutions (UK)
“Are artist and technical riders worth the paper they’re written on?” That’s the question that kicked off a lively interactive discussion on riders with artist manager Dougie Souness, lawyer Ben Challis, and Production Solutions' Keith Wood.
“Absolutely yes,” said Challis, who explained that “if you’ve signed a contact you’ve agreed the rider,” even if the actual documents haven’t been seen. “As a lawyer, if the contract says the rider is part of the contract and you’ve signed it, it is – even if they haven’t sent it yet.”
After Souness said both artist and technical riders are an “important part of the live touring process,” Wood described how, on the first UK arena for a major international artist, the promoter “didn’t supply a [technical] rider, and it was a car crash. I didn’t know what was coming, so I had to invite all the UK venue managers to the first show, in Birmingham, so they could see the set-up.”
For the first show, he continued, “they brought a stage twice the size of the one we went on sale with!”
Challis agreed on the importance of technical riders, explaining: “I represent Arcadia [Spectacular], and with them it’s essential that everything is adhered to, all the local regulations…
“What annoys me, though, is at Glastonbury when we get inappropriate riders, with stuff like ticketing splits that’s completely irrelevant for a festival.”
“The poor old promoters thought, This band must be shit-hot – they’ve got a rider!"
Speaking from the audience, ILMC founder Martin Hopewell described how the first artist riders in the 70s were written by the agencies – the logic was, he explained, that artists would appear a hotter ticket if they travelled with a list of demands. “The poor old promoters thought, This band must be shit-hot – they’ve got a rider!" he said.
Ultimately, said Souness, there’s little point in going overboard on hospitality riders – à la Van Halen’s infamous 'no brown M&Ms’ demand – as the artist is paying for it in the end. “I’ve had to say to acts, ‘You’re on a percentage split – would you rather have this stuff, or would you rather have a cheque at the end?’” he said.
According to Hopewell, the Cure realised that “every night, they’d turn up to a venue and there’d be a different jar of mayonnaise – and that they were paying for it. So they bought their own jar of mayonnaise and kept it on the [tour] bus.
The moral of the story? Buy your own fucking mayonnaise!