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Booking a celebrity headliner as the entertainment for a private event is a long, arduous task that can come with a host of liabilities without the invaluable partnership of a professional talent buyer. Whether you’ve previously hired an A-list performer or not for an event, you’re likely familiar with how lengthy and complex entertainment contracts can be. However, it’s important that everyone that’s involved in the booking process understands each aspect – including the contract rider. But what is a rider in a contract? Keep reading for examples of contract riders and how they work.

What is a Performance Rider in a Contract?

Contract riders have a reputation for seeming unnecessarily extravagant. While it’s true that many singers, bands, and other performers have requested things like having their favorite snacks on hand or a certain room temperature, that’s not only what a rider is. What is a rider in a contract, then? A rider is an addition or amendment to a document such as a contract. They outline all the requirements an artist has to deliver their best performance at an event, which could include anything from sound and staging specifications to food and beverages they’d like.

How do Riders Work?

Like any other aspect of contract development and fulfillment, riders must be formally outlined, (optionally) negotiated, and signed by both parties. Everyone entering the contract for booking should understand exactly what the document entails. Since contracts can be challenging, the assistance of a professional talent buyer like Celebrity Headliner is advantageous to ensure that your preferred artist performs as expected.

Contract Rider Examples

The contents of a rider can vary drastically depending on the artist. Generally, riders describe the specific logistical and technical requirements, but it’s also possible that a performer may request snacks or include information about the number of meals to be provided and any dietary preferences. What is typically included in a rider in a contract? Examples include technical and security needs and hospitality requests (e.g., a specific brand of snacks or bottled water). 

Technical Requirements

Regardless of the type of private event and its scale, there will always be technical specifications that must be met for the artist’s performance. These specifications include the stage and lighting requirements, a list of backline gear, and sound system requirements. Technical requirements are actually the most important part of a contract rider. What is it that makes the technical details so important for a rider in a contract? Improper set-up can ruin a performance or cause technical difficulties. For example, if the number of amplifiers provided is incorrect, it could impact the entire sound of their performance.

  • Stage and Lighting: These requirements could outline specifications for the size of the stage, the necessary lighting equipment, and the type of lighting they want or need for their performance.
  • List of Backline: Backline gear refers to all of the equipment an artist needs to perform, excluding microphones, the PA system, and stage monitors. The backline list varies depending on the artist’s genre/music style, instrumentation, and the size of the venue. Generally, examples of backline in a contract rider could include instruments, amps and their stands, or a stand mixer. The backline list also outlines the specs for the equipment like the speaker size and make and model of the gear.
  • Sound Requirements: Every artist has specific audio they require, including the type of sound system and the number of microphones or speakers needed.

Security Requirements

What else is included in a rider in a contract? Security is a critical requirement for celebrity headliners to protect themselves, their equipment/instruments, and any personal property at events. Riders address specific accommodations, such as limiting access to a stage during set up and sound check or providing instructions as to the presence of security wherever the artist is present.

Dressing Room & Hospitality Requests

The contract rider example that most are familiar with, dressing room and hospitality requests address travel needs, food and beverages for the artists’ dressing rooms, any meal arrangements, and other room requirements.

  • Travel: The riders in a contract always need to outline the logistics of a celebrity headliner’s performance. For example, if your artist is traveling to your event’s venue, you may need to make certain arrangements for them such as transportation and lodging.
  • Food/Beverages: This can be as general as providing the performer with a hot meal or as specific as detailing certain brands of snacks, soda, or bottled water.
  • Dressing Room Requirements: Contract rider examples for the dressing room could include the type of dressing room/private space at the venue, furniture, or amenities.

Miscellaneous Considerations

Though security, technical specifications, and hospitality requests are a few primary aspects of what is in a rider in a contract, there may also be other considerations to make for the artist. One significant contract rider example is a meet-and-greet opportunity during or after an artist’s performance. Since it’s an additional event on the artist’s schedule, it needs to be addressed by one or both of the parties in the rider. Other examples may include whether or not the performer is permitting autographs, the filming and picture-taking policy, and even the advertising/promotion and cancellation terms.

What is the main element of a rider in a contract? Well, there are no set rules for what riders may entail. Security and technical specifications, dressing room and hospitality requests, and meet-and-greet opportunities are all contract rider examples. Not all performers will include every one of these factors in their riders, and the specific requirements for each category can and will vary greatly depending on the performer. For example, a comedian may not require quite as complex of a sound system as a rock band.

What is a Rider in a Contract?

One of the most important parts of booking a celebrity headliner, riders are essentially everything that a performer needs to give an audience their best performance. Since contract riders can be demanding, it’s beneficial to partner with a professional talent buyer that will help work to fulfill requirements and facilitate communication between the performer’s production team and your event’s technical provider. Inquire now to learn more!