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Performing Songwriter Cover

Riders 101

Originally published in Performing Songwriter Magazine
Issues #23-24, March-May 1997

So you're finally getting paying gigs. Strangers are calling with work. They want you to fly in for a couple of days and do a 70 minute show. They promise palatial dressing rooms, hotel suites, and a percentage of the door. They swear you'll be advertised in all the major papers and that their built in audience runs to the millions. You accept, thrilled at this sudden change in your fortunes.

Everything Goes Right

Scenario #1: Your tickets arrive a month before the show, with the flights you'd requested and your preferred seating. You're met at the airport by a grateful promoter who offers you a tour of the town, buys lunch, then shows you to your room in a very nice hotel two blocks from the venue. The room is, of course, everything you've requested: non-smoking, high floor, away from the ice machines and elevators. Waiting for you is a piece of paper with contact names for tonight's show and a list of start times: "If anything about this timetable is not satisfactory, please contact the promoter's rep [Dave, 726-1234 home, 333-3333 mobile]. Your ride [Maggie Early] will meet you in the lobby at 4 pm. Soundcheck is at 4:30 [house sound, Dave Early; monitors, Brad Late]. Dinner [vegetarian, no milk products] will be served at 6. Doors open at 7. Your show will begin at 8 and end no later than 9:30 [sorry, we have a curfew], but of course the lobby will be available for your meet & greet until 11. We will return you to the hotel at your request. Maggie will meet you in the hotel lobby at 8 am for your flight home. Don't worry about check-out unless you've charged things to your room; we have prepaid the bill. Thanks, and have a great show!" You get to the venue and everything is as promised, including some unexpected perks (the flyers and posters they've printed have a really nice layout, they've saved you all the press clippings, your dressing room has a vase of flowers). The gig is sold out (as it should be; their mailing list is huge, they've done co-opt advertising with a local radio station in exchange for the DJ doing your introduction and a discreet sign in the lobby), the audience knows your stuff (since the station's been promoting it all week) and you go home planning your return trip.

All these things happened to me on my last tour.

Everything Goes Wrong

Scenario #2: It's the day before departure and the tickets still aren't there. "I thought I sent them last week" says the promoter's husband when he returns your fourth call. "You must have gotten them!" No, you say, you didn't get them. "Can you put it on your credit card and we'll refund it?" Sure, you say, anxious to make a good impression. You arrive but there's no one to meet you; the next forty minutes are spent trying to reach someone from the promoter's office (closed) or the venue (answering machine only; no one gave you a backstage number). You have no idea where the hotel is or what it's calle, but vaguely remember "downtown" and "Holiday" being mentioned. You take a taxi to the downtown Holiday Inn, which has no reservation but directs you to the theater 3 blocks away. Struggling with guitars and suitcase, you locate the theater, which turns out to be under construction. Dodging flying plaster in the lobby, you finally run into your promoter - well, your promoter's daughter, who informs you that "everyone's been really, really busy", gives you the hotel name and address, then promises to pick you up "around four".

Not wanting to be a bother, you catch another cab to a dismal motel 7 or 8 miles away. Your room was been paid for but their credit card didn't clear. Exhausted, you go ahead and put it on your own card, promising yourself to get all this financial mess straightened out before show time. You're pretty hungry, but the restaurant is under construction, as is the hotel lobby and your entire floor. You ask the desk clerk where you can grab a bite; he laughs and says "How'd you think they got that great room rate? There's nothing around here for miles." You dig deep into your suitcase and munch on a Power Bar, grateful you'd remembered to pack one.

Four o'clock comes and goes. At five you take yet another cab back to the venue and enter through the front, relieved that they've cleaned up the lobby a bit (or at least thrown dropcloths over the worst of i).) You notice your poster mounted beside the box office - well, you think it's your poster, but it's really fuzzy and they've spelled your name wrong. The ticket prices seem high, too; you realize they'd talked about a $10 charge, but these say $16. And there are three opening acts, all of them local bands with drummers.

You're met by the house sound person, a nice guy who'll also be running monitors ("We just have this one wedge for everyone, the other three weren't working") and lights ("We had a spot operator but ticket sales were awful, so they let him go"). But two days ago they were still predicting a sold-out show - what happened? "We depend a lot on walk-up but it's prom night, so chances of that are slim." What about radio? "That station closed." The stage seems quiet as you unpack for your sound check; you casually ask if they're going to move all the band equipment before you go on. "Oh, you're closing? I thought Rocky & the Retreads were on last." No, you say, you're quite sure you close.

After sound check ("Sorry, it was working yesterday, do you really need a guitar channel?") you ask where the stage manager is, hoping to discuss your needs once the show starts (black stool, glass of water, towel, guitar stand); it's so simple you're sure there won't be any problems. There aren't; nothing you'd discussed is available, and it's way too late to find any of it. "I can probably get you the water and stick it on one of the big silver monitor cases" volunteers the soundman. No, that's okay, if he'll just show you the dressing room you'll have a snack and get ready. "Oh, didn't they tell you? The dressing rooms are closed because of construction. There's a men's bathroom you can change in." What about food? "Well, there's a Blimpie's across the street, but they're closed on Sunday."

Showtime comes and goes but the promoter never shows. You end up compromising with the Retread's manager (you'll go on before them, and in return they'll let you use their extra monitor and DI box). You'e glad it worked out that way, since no one warned anyone about the curfew and stage power was cut in the middle of their set, at 10:00. After the show (lightly attended - prom night, no advertising, a high ticket price) you wait patiently with the other acts to get paid. Unfortunately, the tax assessor got there before you and has taken all the box office receipts as part of the money your promoter owes the government. You're told that upon presentation of a signed contract, your fee will be paid (no, not your expenses, that was done at your own discretion - unless of course the rider attached to your contract specified them). What signed contract? What rider?

You get a ride back to the hotel with the soundman, who plays you tapes of his girlfriend all the way. In the morning you sneak out before they can nail you for the bill, catch a cab to the airport, and go home resolved to hire an agent, or at least a good lawyer.

All these things have happened to me in the last two years except one - I always got paid. I got paid because I had a contract that spelled out, in juicy legal terminology, exactly what I was expected to do and what I was being paid for doing it. And I had a rider that spelled out every single, nit-picking thing I might need or want, which I could wave in the face of anyone trying to avoid their duties.

Look at it this way: a show contract is the most basic listing of what you and the promoter expect from one another. The rider attached to it goes into detail. In this next series I'll take a look at both: what you should have in writing, what you might want to have in writing, and what's just plain silly.

I. The Show Contract

A contract is an agreement between two or more persons (or corporations, which for legal purposes are regarded as human beings. Don't ask.) which includes an Offer and an Acceptance. The Offer part isn't valid until the second party has Accepted. In lay terms, a contract spells out a series of exchanges - you'll come and play at X venue on X date at X time, and in return I'll pay you X dollars. Your contract is the basics - all the rest [airfares, rooms, food] is gravy. Or as the legal world says, "Additional considerations".

A show contract is usually one page long (11" x 14"). Agencies have their own standardized forms in triplicate. The top copy (usually white) is the "presenter's copy" and goes, stapled to your rider, to the promoter for signing. The second copy stays with the agency. The third copy stays with you or goes to your manager's files, ideally stapled to your signed rider. You should always leave for the gig with a copy of your contract, not to mention your rider neatly stapled below, signed by you/your rep and the promoter. Remember - if you show up with an unsigned piece of paper, you have nothing to stand on.

What Else Should It Specify?

In plain English, a show contract looks something like this:

Agreement made this 30th day of September 1996 between Folkfest Productions Inc. hereafter referred to as "PRESENTER" and Generic Booking Agency Inc.1222 16TH Avenue South Nashville TN.34567 Federal ID #38-123456 hereafter referred to as "AGENT" and FREDDY FOLKSINGER hereafter referred to as "Artist".

1. PRESENTER agrees to furnish at its sole cost and expense a place of performance on the date(s) and time(s) contained in paragraph three (3) below, lighted, ventilated, cleaned, free from distracting noises. PRESENTER further agrees to furnish adequate dressing rooms for Artist's use and a secure, lockable place for the storage of props, equipment, and personal belongings of Artist. PRESENTER shall also provide janitors, ushers, ticket sellers, door keepers, and tickets for the performance and any additional services and/or personnel as required, as well as any license or permit required by any state or local authority.

2. The AGENT agrees to furnish Artist(s), costumes and all necessary props for the performance listed in paragraph three, and everything necessary to the performance contemplated by this contract, unless otherwise provided by this contract, and to give said performance(s) in a creditable manner. AGENT further agrees to set up and dismantle props supplied by it, to furnish its own music when needed, provide the legal permit of the author when needed, and pay any author's fees and remuneration if the same is required.


Date(s): Thursday August 14 1997

Time(s): 7 pm to 8:30 pm - one 90 minute show without intermission (Note * facility is a municipal facility and has a 9 pm stage curfew)

Location: Trapped Wolf Zoo, 4340 Main Street Road, Monrovia New Jersey


Compensation is to be paid by certified check, money order or cash payable in U.S. funds as follows: $2500.00 guarantee flat payable as follows:

$250.00 (10%) deposit to AGENT on completion of this contract; $2250.00 payable upon completion of performance to FRED FOLKSINGER (Social Security #051-42-8655).

Capacity: 2,000 seated/standing (outdoor facility - lawn seating)

Ticket Price: $500.00

Gross Potential: N/A


LODGING: 2 non-smoking hotel rooms with double beds at a nearby hotel.

TRANSPORTATION: Artist will arrange her own.


6. TAXES: Any TAXES imposed on gross theatrical receipts by the federal government or by the tax authorities of any state or municipality shall be the sole responsibility of PRESENTER.

7. INSURANCE: PRESENTER warrants that it has both personal injury and property damage liability INSURANCE on the premises at which the performance shall be given.

8. SANITARY WORKING CONDITIONS/SAFETY: PRESENTER agrees to comply with all applicable laws and ordinances pertaining to the maintenance of SAFE AND SANITARY WORKING CONDITIONS for the performer(s).

9. LAW: PRESENTER agrees to conform to all federal, state and local laws and ordinances pertaining to the performances to be given under this contract.

10. JURISDICTION AND CHOICE OF LAW: it is expressly understood that this agreement arose and was entered into in the state of Tennessee, U.S.A., notwithstanding the actual status of any individual at the time of signing. This agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with Tennessee Law and by the signing of this agreement the parties recognize the full jurisdiction of Tennessee courts relative to any dispute arising out of this agreement.

11. FORCE MAJEURE: If either party is prevented from performing the obligations created because of illness, act of God (defined as fire, flood, accident, riot, order of any authority or any other calamity), or if by reason of strike, lockouts or any other cause beyond the control of either of the parties, neither party shall be liable for the balance of the contract nor any "rain date" or future obligation to play or present.

12. RIDER: The attached rider is made a part of this contract.


By (print name)
Patrick Presenter for Monrovia County Parks System
1212 Main Street, Monrovia, New Jersey. 08832
phone: 908-654-3210 fax: 908-654-3211

Date: 9-23-96


By (print name) Adam Agent

Date: 10-28-96

There you go. Now you can tell anyone you don't want to work with "Sorry; I'm booked up 6 months in advance."


Here's what all of that means:

Someone called you/your management/your agent and made an offer for a show. The parties agreed to some basics and put them in writing. Then it was typed up as a contract, probably on the date listed here. The "Presenter" is your promoter - whoever's really in charge (read: footing the bill or losing their shirt). The Booking Agency is obvious; their Federal ID gives them the right to hold themselves out as an agent and do business as such (and collect anywhere from nothing to 15% from you, though 15% is pretty high). You are the "Artist".

Paragraph 1 ("Presenter agrees to furnish...) lists a bunch of things that are not negotiable, things the agency or whoever made up the regular contract form determined were absolutely necessary for a show. The phrase "at its sole cost and expense" is very important; I have arrived at shows and been told I was expected to give back a portion of my fee for anything from grounds clean-up to ticket seller payment. This paragraph spells out what the promoter is definitely expected to provide, no ifs, ands, or buts. You will not be expected to sit in the box office taking tickets before you go on.

Paragraph 2 is the Agency's promise to "deliver" you and everything necessary for your performance. It says you'll bring your own instruments, clothes, and other props ("unless otherwise provided by this contract" - more on that later), and you'll give the show in a "creditable manner". That line is in there for a number of reasons, chiefly that Jim Morrison once did a 50 minute show that consisted of mumbling unpublished poems into the microphone, then dropping his trousers. Not a happy audience. Essentially the promoter is buying what they've seen/heard/been told you do, not your latest enthusiasm. The rest is really a hold-over from the travelling theater troupe days, when a trainful of actors would roll into town and the minute the show was over, they'd split, leaving the harried theater crew to dismantle their props. Sometimes they didn't pay the author of the play either. In fact, I've got a song in a musical called "Beehive" (it uses over 20) that I've been trying to get paid for these last 8 years - every time we find a production of it, the show's closed before we can locate the promoter or agent! That means someone is using lots of songs written by folks like me and pocketing the money due us. This line warrants that you won't be so ugly.

Paragraph 3 spells out where, when, and how long. This is obviously important, because I spent 3 hours last summer running around downtown Columbus searching for a theater that wasn't listed in the phone book. It turned out to be a converted church, still listed under the old name. You also want the state; last year I had an interim road manager who was happily charting out our next day's routing. When he mentioned that he'd be glad to see the ocean again, I asked where we were going - it turned out he thought we were headed toward Northhampton Connecticut, but we were in fact going to Northhampton Massachusetts - a mere 14 hours driving difference. We'd have missed the show. Be glad they mentioned the curfew, too, since they're usually imposed by local laws and the stage curtain will be dropped, your power cut off, and your car towed if you ignore it!

Am I really Getting Paid?

Paragraph 4 says what you're to be paid. I personally come from the old school; if they have enough money to pay you, they ought to be able to pay you in cash or the equivalent. I saw a manager due to collect $5,000 in cash one night begin loading the 24-track mixing board into his rental car when the promoter said he only had personal checks available. It was amazing how quickly he came up with the money. Demanding cash is not unreasonable - paying by personal check is. This is a business; you did your part, they should do theirs. And all kinds of things can go wrong with a checking account (like the fact that there's no money in it). "Payable in U.S. funds" is debatable; I know people who work overseas and take their money in local currency for various reasons, usually having to do with hiding it from the tax man. I don't think it's worth it, myself. Besides, with U.S. dollars coming to me I can know exactly what I'm making, and budget accordingly. I did a tour of Japan once where the Yen (Japanese currency) took a sudden drop against the dollar. If I'd agreed to be paid in local currency, I'd have lost my shirt, since I'd still have had to pay my band and crew in dollars. The word "flat" means there's no percentage; if you sell out or if five people show up, you still get paid the same.

"Payable as follows" can be done lots of ways. The deposits are (or should be) held in an escrow account that no one can touch until completion of the gig. Lots of people don't like this, but it makes sense - I had to cancel two weeks once because of hospitalization, and all those deposits had to be returned. Remember, you haven't earned the money until you've done your job. Having said that, for someone like me who doesn't have billions to front a tour, those deposits mean I can "borrow" from the agency and have some money going into the first week or so to pay my set-up costs: any flights I've bought tickets for ahead of time, van or car rental deposits, equipment insurance, even the last week's salary to anyone working for me who's going to need money before their first paycheck comes due.

I was always taught that a 50% deposit is reasonable; however, on the circuit I normally perform in here at home, it's not always possible. If you're dealing with a known entity you've worked with before, you may agree to take a lower deposit - 10% or even none. Especially nowadays on the folk circuit, when many shows are booked 6-18 months in advance, it's understandable that people can't afford to leave 50% of everyone's fee floating out there on hold for the 30 or 40 shows they'll be putting on in that time.

Your social security is in there because the government and venues like to see who they're paying. It reassures them that you're not hiding the money. You wouldn't be that stupid, would you?

"Capacity" is important on many levels - it lets you know what you're walking into, for starts. It also gives you some idea of your saleability in that market - no good promoter is going to hire you for a 3,000 seater when you can only fill 250. If you're working on a percentage, the capacity becomes very important. For instance, if this contract had said $2500.00 plus 75% of anything over capacity, it would mean that if you drew 3,100 people you'd make 75% of $500 (that extra 100 people multiplied by a ticket price of $5), or $375.00. Percentages ("back end" or "points") are one of the most negotiable parts of a show contract. This is why accurate capacity counts are so important. It's a dismal fact that on the grassroots folk circuit, venue counts are horribly over-estimated. Out of the @35 theaters and clubs I played last June-July, only 3 had given us accurate capacities. Their reasoning varied: most of the time it was over-enthusiasm ("Sure we can fit 240, never mind that the fire code only allows 99!") or ignorance ("You mean we have to count how many seated people will fit?"). But sometimes it was plain cheating, like the venue that promised a full house of 350 and asked us to take less front money and a higher percentage at sell-out. Their full capacity turned out to be under 225 unless you got rid of the stage, lights, and sound. This kind of thing is really hard to deal with, because you want to operate in good faith and expect everyone else to do the same. Unfortunately, some people would rather make extra bucks one time around than have you come back every year.

"Gross potential" is exactly that - the potential gross you can make. In this example, 2,000 people multiplied by $5.00 means the most the venue can take in is $10,000. the "N/A" stands for "Not Applicable", since you're not on a percentage deal.

How Many Bites Will They Take?!

Paragraph 5 is the Artist's favorite part of a show contract, since it spells out things that won't (or certainly should not!) be commissioned. Again, on the folk circuit (where many of our promoters are local grass roots organizations that try to keep ticket prices down, and therefore usually don't pay a ton, which means we get to tour more years than pop people who tend to use up the market really fast and go bankrupt...) it's not unusual for venues to provide hotel rooms as a "perk". This means you can work for less money and still afford to sleep somewhere other than your car. Often when it's a "fly date" (you're flying into their city) they'll also provide transportation to and from the airport and hotel. This can be problematic if you get trapped in a car with screaming children, a baby in need of a diaper change, and a parent who "just wants to play these eight or nine songs" for you. I find most people err on the other side, and are afraid to talk or ask any questions, which is also weird.

Sometimes "Additional Considerations" outlines some perks they're offering as inducements, like first-class flights to another country, or four star hotel rooms. It's all just bargaining.

Paragraph 6 guarantees that they'll pay any taxes due to the venue, which keeps your nose right out of it. Some people also have a provision in their riders saying any taxes due by the venue, the promoter, or any of their assignees, are the responsibility of the promoter. This avoids situations like the one at the beginning of this article.

Paragraph 7 "Insurance" is really, really, really important! Remember that horrible show The Who gave where "concert seating" (no assigned seats, first-come-first-served) was the rule? The band were on stage sound checking; not enough security guards had been placed at the hall doors, which were glass, and the audience members had been waiting (some of them two or three nights) a long time to get good seats. When they heard the band playing, they surged forward in a mob, knocking down doors and trampling one another in their haste. Several people were killed and everyone was sued.

All right, you say, it can't happen to me. I'm just playing a little 200-seat club for a bunch of folkies. Right. What if a stage light falls on your bass player's head and she needs to be hospitalized for a week - and of course she has no insurance? Worse yet, what if she's permanently injured, or needs physical therapy? Or a careless volunteer drops your prize guitar/microphone/tape deck? Or some fool in the audience gets drunk and slips on their way out, breaking their leg? Or you inadvertently touch something that breaks something (in my case, "What's this do?" turned into half a blown-out lighting rig. I no longer touch anything that might hold fingerprints.) I've seen all of these things happen on the folk circuit. Liability insurance is accident insurance for people like us - someone else's accident and our insurance payout. Even if the Presenter lies about it, if they sign the contract saying they have it, they're responsible. When all those suits start flying around, your lawyer can get you out of it pretty quickly.

"Sanitary Working Conditions/Safety" is because of gigs like this: I arrived at a new club in Massachusettes four years ago with my bass player (6'4" in his stocking feet) and drummer (6'3"), to find the club owner had moved our show from the upstairs room to the downstairs without telling anyone. Downstairs had no seating, just a cement floor ("The audience knows to bring its own"). The capacity was a quarter of the upstairs room. His reasoning was specious - he thought downstairs would be "more fun". The truth turned out to be that he'd booked a dance band to start their show just as mine ended, and needed the bigger stage for them. The idea of striking our stage and putting theirs up quickly hadn't occurred to him because it would mean hiring roadies to help.

I didn't know what to do - I was with a different agency at the time and my contract didn't specify "seated on chairs" or the specific room; since both rooms were part of the same club, he was within his rights. But I knew my audience would hate it. He had gone ahead and moved the lighting rig from upstairs down so he could be in compliance with my rider. When we walked on stage, the ceiling was so low that the light cans were only 6' off the floor. That gave me my out - I loudly said "I determine that this stage is unsafe" and led my band off. The club owner tried to insist that it would be safe for people to play with earphones made of stage lights, but I stood my ground, and he finally told the upstairs band they'd have to start an hour later and moved our show back there.

It also prevents your being electrocuted because there's a terrific thunderstorm at your outdoor gig and the stage roof leaks. Ever wonder why most European rock and rollers from the '60's through the '70's wore sneakers on stage? or why so many people use wireless when they just stand there? There've been enough "accidents" because of hazardous work conditions that people try to anticipate it.

As to the "sanitary" part, none of us need any further explanation, right? The word "cholera" should suffice....

Laws and Jurisdictions

"Law" is a good thing, and you always want the promoter to abide by it. That way you won't get arrested. It also means they've had to file for the proper permits and licenses, so your show can't be closed down before it happens.

Paragraph 10 "Jurisdiction" matters because if there's a dispute, you want it argued in a) your home state if possible, so it doesn't cost you travel and hotels; b) a state friendly to artists. Really - some states think what we do is the same as being an accountant, or a teacher. The argument that you couldn't do your show with a broken hand won't mean much to them, because their court precedent will be based on something like "Can't you hire someone to play the guitar for you? Then you could have done the show."

Paragraph 11 is also very important; "force majeure" literally stands for "an unstoppable force". It means that if you used your best efforts and still couldn't do the show, it won't be held against you. Ergo, you won't be sued for not showing up when the airport was closed due to a thunderstorm. Likewise, you can't sue the presenter if the theater's on strike and it's a lockout (no one can get in). The second half of that paragraph ("or future obligation" is the key here) matters because you don't want to have to do a "rain date". For instance, I was due for a show on the tip of Long Island, an area notoriously difficult to reach quickly. Since I had a show the night before, I put myself on a very early flight to New York (try 5:30 am), expecting to catch a commuter flight from LaGuardia airport at around one. When I reached LaGuardia the city was in the grip of a massive thunderstorm and all flights were delayed. Hours passed as I frantically tried to find an airline that was still flying. Around five, all remaining flights were cancelled. I literally ran to the Marine Air Terminal to try and get a helicopter over; the moment I reached the counter, they announced that La Guardia itself was closing. I managed to get through to the club owner and apologize, then waiting for him to rebook his "rain date".

Unfortunately, he needed a weekend. Unfortunately, all my weekends were taken for the year, so I traded half my fee for a weekday. Even more unfortunately, it cost me three times that to fly back in from the date I had the night before in Denver. It was no one's fault, but with my current contract we'd just have offered to give him a better deal next tour, rather than having to play a rain date within a 3 month period.

Paragraph 12 is about the infamous rider, which we will deal with in the next article. It just says those pieces of paper stapled to the contract are going to be regarded as part of the contract.

That's pretty much it, except for the signatures. And you must get signatures. How many of us have gotten to shows and discovered that the venue had never signed the contract? Almost all of us, I'd bet.

In the next series of articles we'll be looking at riders - what seems necessary (you really think you need a monitor?), and what seems silly (how many brown M&M's have to be removed from each bowl backstage?) - and the real reasons why.

What's a rider?

"Why do I need a rider?" you ask. "I thought we covered everything I needed in part one of this series, where I learned what a show contract was." Well, yes and no. I began this series after spending dinner with a couple of friends who'd just returned from their first European tour. They looked awful - haggard, ill-fed, sick of touring and record companies. When I asked how it had gone, they recited a long list of problems - backstage food was limited to crackers and peanut butter even on sold out nights, there'd never been time for sound checks, promoters had arranged dozens of interviews on their days off, and none of the equipment they'd asked for had been available. "What about your rider?" I asked. "What rider?" they replied. So here we go.

A rider is your chance at perfection. It's your first major communication with the promoter and crew, a shot at telling them about your show and the way you do business way in front of your actual appearance. Perfection is subjective, which is why all riders differ. When I started this series I asked a bunch of friends for their riders, thinking I'd just put together an amalgam. What I've discovered is that riders are so subjective that the best I can do is offer you the basics of my own, with hints about other folks'. There are a lot of things in this rider that beginning acts won't need (a touring corporation)or won't have (like a business manager). Please remember that as I've often pointed out, I come to this with 30 years of baggage, and my infrastructure is set up to deal with all of that - my life is a lot more complicated than yours needs to be.

A few suggestions

John Gorka's rider is one page, double-sided. Patty Larkin has 3 formats: Patty solo, Patty trio, and Patty with band. The Rolling Stones Steel Wheels Tour rider I saw was 143 pages, double-spaced. I have various Janis Ian Solo configurations (U.S. club, U.S. theater, Europe theater, Japan theater) with the same for band tours. See how complicated it is already?

So my first suggestion is: keep it simple. There's a certain amount of legalese necessary no matter what you do, but try to make the whole thing reader-friendly. Use headings, plain fonts, normal paper. No promoter wants a 20-page rider in blue italic printed on lovely dove-gray paper.

Second, leave yourself some negotiating room. Sure I know I'm not going to get a Mackie 24 channel board at a parks & recreation gig, but at least I can start with that and come down to a decent 24-channel, instead of hearing "You don't need that for a girl with a guitar". Speaking of which, when I looked at Ani Difranco's rider I realized we'd both been running into similar problems as Girls With Guitars and had begun to address them formally. Ani's, for instance, says "This show is VERY dynamic and is NOT a typical folkmusic/acoustic guitar performance". That's because promoters tend to think of folksingers as quiet mousy creatures with very few needs who Live For Art. While this may be true, we also live to be heard in the back bleachers. My rider is tougher than it used to be because last fall I thanked a promoter who was hauling two sidefills onstage, only to be told "I think this is overkill, but he (nodding at my soundman) says it's necessary. You don't need these." Well, yes I do, and yes he'd agreed to provide them so yes, we demanded them. The problem is that when someone like that complains to your agency they just say you were "demanding" and "difficult"; they never mention that when you arrived the equipment was nowhere in sight.

Third, take a deep breath. You won't get most of this - it's really a "wish list". Some venues, like Alan Pepper at NY's Bottom Line, just send the entire thing back crossed out; he's done business with me for so many years that I know what to expect. (The B.Line provides a basket of "goodies" backstage - miniature chocolate bars & some fruit; it's the same basket no matter who you are. There's a famous Bette Midler story that Alan & his partner Stanley went all out for the Divine Miss M's first shows there, even repainting her dressing room in her favorite shades. However, on the 3rd night Bette asked for a fresh basket, figuring she'd get one every night, and was informed that it was one artist, one basket, whether she played a night or a month. So much for riders; at least they're egalitarian!)

Last, remember that the Promoter/Purchaser is not the enemy. We're all in this together; ideally, your rider is a guide to what you need in order to put on the best possible show. With that said, here's my rider, explanations in italics & names changed to protect the innocent - good luck!


THIS RIDER shall be attached to & made part of the contract for services between Revenge Touring Inc., a TN. Corporation (that's my touring corporation; we set it up because of liability and to keep the income separate from songwriting income. It also keeps it cleaner when we hold deposits, & provides some tax advantages I'm incompetent to explain) (Federal ID#00-000), furnishing the services of Janis Ian (hereinafter referred to as Artist), and your organization (hereinafter referred to as Purchaser) for the engagement described in the contract, and shall supersede any & all riders or addendums of Purchaser. (eg don't try to change it or weasel out of it without lots of paperwork and discussion!).

INFORMATION NEEDED: Please fax this information to (our office fax number).

1. House Manager: Contact__________Phone_________Fax___________

2. Press Contact: Contact__________Phone_________Fax___________

3. Sound Co: Contact__________Phone_________Fax___________

4. Lighting Co: Contact__________Phone_________Fax___________

5. Stage Manager: Contact__________Phone_________Fax___________

6. When appropriate, name/number of inexpensive but clean hotel/motel near venue and/or interstate, & any information about requesting preferred rates - thanks! If Purchaser is providing rooms, please advise us ASAP of the name, address, phone & fax of the hotel.

This is a good section to start with, because you will want all this information, & it gives them something they can answer right away.

ARTIST CONTACT INFORMATION: (include company, phone, fax, address, contact for each)

Management: (they're liaison for everything until the road manager or I take over)

Business management: (this is where money is sent & tax information dealt with)

Booking agency: (changes by country)

Record Company: (also changes by country)

Road manager/House Sound Engineer: (this is who they can call for technical stuff)

Publicist: (if there's an outside person hired for that tour; otherwise list management contact)

* Press photos (high res), bios, quotes all available at www.janisian.com in the "Press Kit" section.

Fan Club/website: (promoters like this; it gives them a place to send mail, inquiring fans, complaints about the show, and any other miscellaneous stuff)


1. The following provisions are deemed incorporated in & an integral part of the agreement to which this rider is annexed. Any changes, modifications or waivers are invalid unless agreed to by the Artist or her designated representative (hereafter included in all references to "Artist") & initialed by both Artist & Purchaser. You can't change anything unless both you and I or someone I choose signs it too.

2. The show shall be presented as a "Non-Smoking" evening; no smoking in the performance space, backstage, onstage, or dressing room at any time. You'd be surprised how grateful people are for this!

3. If venue serves food &/or beverages to seated audience members, all service will cease when Artist begins her portion of the show. Artist reserves the right to end her show prematurely in the case of unreasonably loud bartenders or servers, with no prejudice to her rights. Sure there's only so much you can do, but most clubs are pretty good when they hire people like us; their audiences want to listen.

4. The use of an opening artist must be cleared with Artist prior to confirmation of this contract; there will be one opening act only; only solo or acoustic duos are acceptable. Yes, for those of us who are openers (myself included a lot of the time) this is harsh. BUT last year one W. Coast club booked 4 opening acts at 45 minutes each; the audience were throwing things by the last one! And my stage setup is more complicated than you'd think; stripping down drums, percussion and a bass rig is something we don't have personnel or time for.

5. This is a sit down show. With the exception of "standing room only" tickets for a sold-out show, all venues will provide seating. Can you believe it's necessary to say this?


1. The correct billing for Artist is: JANIS IAN. Not Janice, or Eian. Artist will receive 100% headline billing when she is headlining in all advertising, publicity & promotion including programs, lobby boards, marquees, tickets, and print advertising. Not WROK RADIO PROUDLY PRESENTS Janis Ian. Don't laugh, it's happened.

2. If Artist is not headlining she will receive 100% of headliner's type-size billing and her name will be prominently displayed in all advertising publicity and promotion. Otherwise you'll be lucky to get your name mentioned when you go onstage, much less in the ads.

3. There will be no announcements or speeches prior to performance or during any intermission or at the end of the show except those approved by Artist. Pre-show announcements should be completed no less than 10 minutes prior to start of show. As opposed to the guy in a clown suit who stayed on stage all through one benefit, mugging for the balcony. And who wants to hear "We're out of big fries but we still have potato skins" just before they go on?

4. Purchaser will not authorize, schedule, or promise interviews or other promotional activities involving Artist without prior consent of Artist. Artist's representative will coordinate all press; press photos & TV coverage of sound check or show require advance approval. Artist appreciates the necessity for press and will endeavor to help Purchaser whenever possible. Look, I want to sell out more than anyone; we almost always agree to do them, but his gives me some control over my life on the road, not to mention my health. Notice that my rider does NOT forbid the audience to take pictures, because I don't mind. If they get out of hand I ask them to stop from the stage. But I don't want TV cameras at sound check when I'm makeup-less & look like I've been up 3 weeks straight - not without some warning!


1. Purchaser agrees to distribute no more than 2% of venue capacity as complimentary tickets each performance without prior consent of Artist. Press, radio, promotional are to be covered with this allotment. Purchaser will provide road manger with a list of complimentary distribution at sound check. In other words, you can't take a 350-seater that's full & tell me I didn't sell out because 50 seats went to the local radio station and your friends at the bar down the street.

2. Purchaser will provide Artist with complimentary tickets per show as follows: these amounts depend on you; ours range from 10 for 200 seats to 30 for 750. Artist's comp seats shall be in center of the venue, rows 6-10 mainly so I don't have to stare at my family in the front row. Any unused comp tickets will be placed on sale day of performance after consultation with Artist/road manager. We usually have all of ours for sale, but it's nice to be able to offer them in strange towns to anyone from a nice waitress to your uncle's great-niece you forgot about.

3. All tickets will be printed by a bonded ticket printer and be of one stub, one price variety; there shall be no multiple price tickets printed.Tickets sold at different prices must be of separate and distinct colors. This should be obvious - of course no one cheats, but just in case....

4. Ticket price(s) will be those stated on the face of this contract & will not be changed or modified without prior written consent of Artist or Artist's agent. If upon Artist's arrival at venue ticket prices have been changed without written consent, Purchaser will pay Artist 100% of the difference in price for each ticket sold. We actually had to invoke this last year; it's stupid, but venues will agree to one price (& tell you you'll sell out) then up it by as much as $8 out of sheer greed - then blame you for not selling out! This clause is good incentive to NOT do that.

5. No tickets will be sold for seats located where stage, equipment, walls or pillars obstruct viewing of the performance unless the words OBSTRUCTED VIEW are printed on the tickets in plain view. This is because the audience blames the artist otherwise.

6. There will be absolutely no on-stage or rear-of-stage tickets sold. My personal preference.


1. Unless otherwise specified on the face on the contract, a deposit in the amount of 50% of Artist's guaranteed fee shall be paid in advance by Purchaser. If deposit is not received by the date specified on the face of the contract, Artist may construe this as a material breach & cancel the performance with no liability or further obligation to Purchaser, with no prejudice to Artist's rights herein. Pay the front money or don't count on getting a show.

2. All payments shall be made in United States Dollars, cash or certified check. Duh...

3. The balance of Artist's guarantee will be paid in cash or certified check at the venue, prior to Artist's performance. I watched Chuck Berry refuse to go on in the '60's until he'd been paid, literally in the wings; he got his fee & I got stiffed. You should only have to learn that lesson once. You don't HAVE to get paid up front, but at least this is a safety net. When fee is based in whole or part on a percentage of box office receipts, settlement & overage payment is due as soon as practicable after box office closes but no later than _ hour after Artist's last show hereunder. No you cannot count the extra tickets later and mail it in, though I have done that. At that time Artist's representative will need the following: hall contract (what they paid for the hall, union fees etc), ticket manifest, all unsold tickets (so if they say "We only did half a house" they can prove it by showing you the unsold tickets) and any original receipts for expenses. Any expenses not validated with specific receipts will be considered Purchaser's personal responsibility & may not be included as expenses. (My friends had done a sold-out show in London, on a percentage deal; the Promoter charged them $350 for backstage food which consisted of chicken drumettes, 2 bottles of rank wine, and a dozen Perriers. He said the rest was "labor".)


Purchaser is responsible for any and all entry & exit visas, working papers, bonds, customs clearances, & requirements set forth in Purchaser's jurisdiction regarded under the heading of "customs & immigration" for the duration of entire engagement, including instruments, clothing & persons. Some countries require you to post bond for all your instruments; you arrive at the border with $5,000 worth of guitars & they want $500 plus 10% of whatever your stage clothes and other gear is worth. Some countries demand entry visas & working papers, which can cost you a quick $250 a pop. Some require equipment lists to be filed well in advance of your shows. Lack of any of these can jeopardize your tour; make it the Promoter's responsibility, since they know the laws of their own area (or should!).


1. Purchaser warrants & represents that s/he has & will maintain in full force a comprehensive general liability (wall-to-wall liability coverage) insurance policy with a reputable insurance company licensed to do business in the state & country in which the engagement occurs & that this policy provides coverage of at least ONE MILLION DOLLARS U.S. for combined single limit Property Damage & Bodily Injury. Remember The Who show with festival (open) seating where the Promoter apparently didn't think he'd need much security, so he laid most of them off? Hearing the band begin soundcheck, the audience rushed the locked glass doors and stampeded through. People were killed & injured; the band were sued by everyone. This clause means they sue someone else. And don't say you don't need insurance - the US has more lawyers per capita than any country in the world; they're all making a living suing someone! I've been sued (whether I was being famous at the time or not) for everything from someone drunk who fell onto my guitar & smashed it (said I should have known my carrying it off stage with me constituted "undue provocation", as it made them want to touch it) to an audience member who'd bought tickets to a show I canceled when I was hospitalized in 1986. What if the electrical goes blooey & hurts you? or a riser collapses around your drummer? or someone steals your equipment? What if?

2. Purchaser warrants & represents that said insurance policy will name Revenge Touring Inc, Janis Ian & their/her authorized representatives & employees as additional insured parties for the full period of this engagement, including all rehearsal & post-production periods. Extra insurance.

3. Purchaser will assume full responsibility for all of Artist's personal & professional possessions while on premises, including those of Artist's representatives & employees. This is because a club left their dressing room/fire escape door locked during sound check but neglected to tell us the lock didn't work; we got back to find the room stripped & the club refused to pay, saying it wasn't in the rider.

4. Purchaser agrees that its employees involved in the performance of this agreement such as stage manager, stage hands, security personnel, sound & light operators, or any others deemed necessary are not the responsibility nor the employees of the Artist. Even more extra insurance.


1. Artist's obligations hereunder are subject to prevention or detention by reason of sickness, inability to perform, accident, failure of means of transportation, acts of God, riots, strikes, labor disputes, any act of public authority, or any cause similar or dissimilar which is beyond Artist's direct or absolute control. In the event that Artist does not perform the engagement for any of the reasons set forth above, any & all monies paid to Artist shall be returned to Purchaser. Artist shall not be obligated to perform at any other time period. Phew. Talk about covering your bases!

2. Artist reserves the right to cancel this agreement without liability upon written notice to Purchaser no less than 30 days prior to the date of the first performance hereunder. This looks unfair at first, but think logically - no performer would willy-nilly cancel gigs under this clause, because your reputation would suffer & bookings would be hard to come by. It's another safety net.

3. In the event of any failure by Purchaser to fulfill any of the terms & conditions provided herein, Artist shall have the election to cancel the engagement hereunder & Purchaser shall remain obligated to pay Artist the full specified contract fee. Further, Artist shall be discharged from any & all liability hereunder & shall be entitled to retain any & all monies paid by Purchaser. This is your muscle - provide what was promised, or I won't play, & you'll have to pay me anyhow.


1. Artist agrees that Purchaser has exclusive right to sell candy, drinks, & other normal theater concessions at no charge to Purchaser. Purchaser agrees that Artist has exclusive right to sell any & all merchandise bearing the name, likeness &/or performance of artist at no charge to Artist. Purchaser agrees that venue will be paid no commission for any merchandise Artist sells. Purchaser agrees that if venue demands a commission on Artist's merchandise, Artist shall be paid the same percentage of gross profits from venue's food & bar receipts for that night. Last fall I watched the new owner of the Iron Horse take 20% from my opening act, who'd sold a total of 3 CD's at $9 each. I think this practice is disgusting. Any venue that provides tables, lights, & staff to help an artist merchandise should receive some compensation, but many provide nothing but a bored staff member who'd rather be in the kitchen. 20% is too high, & until we all take our merch out to the street to sell from our cars & vans, they'll continue to say things like "can't give you lights, tables, time, staff, but why don't you just add another $3 to each item to make up our 20%?" And we wonder why business is down & audiences feel under-valued....

2. Purchaser will provide a table (minimum 6' long) for the sole use of Artist, placed at Artist's direction in a well-lit area easily accessible to audience members before & after the show for the purposes of selling Artist's merchandise. No other sales people will be permitted to handle goods or monies if Artist is traveling with a merchandise salesperson. See Merchandising 101 in a previous issue for details.

3. Artist will usually remain after show to sign autographs at the merchandise table, & venue will remain open for this purpose until Artist is through.


1. All Security personnel will be over 18 years of age; they must be paid employees, not working as a means of gaining entry to the show. The use of alcohol or drugs must result in immediate dismissal. If in Artist's estimation any security person poses a risk to Artist, her staff, or the show itself, Artist reserves the right to have that person ejected from the premises & replaced immediately. This clause is not negotiable & may not be changed by Artist's representative(s) or venue. This looks harsh - it is. A drunk security person, much less a bully, is too big a risk when you're like me and wade into outdoor crowds all the time. Better to make one quick enemy than injure an audience member..

2. Purchaser will provide ample & adequate security personnel throughout the venue, specifically in the stage area & at any & all entrances to the backstage & dressing room areas. Again, it sounds harsh or like overkill, but I've been backstage too many times with dozens of people I didn't know wandering in & out; one took a swing at me once, one told me she'd written "At 17" & wanted her money - now.

3. If Artist is performing for 2 or more consecutive nights, security arrangements must be made for Artist's equipment left in the venue. This could be an overnight security guard or a tightly secured lock up area. This is more important with a band, since I can carry most of my stuff off-stage. Still, I'd rather not risk mikes, wireless units, echo units etc. if I don't have to.


1. When necessary, Purchaser will provide ground transportation to & from the local airport as required and to & from the venue as required for sound check, show, & return to hotel. This transportation must be sufficient to accommodate 4 people, luggage, musical equipment, & merchandise (minimum: one seven-seater van). One of the ways I can afford to do "weekend fly dates" [a single show that requires me to fly in], particularly low-paying festivals, is to have all my other expenses covered. This is part of that.

2. Purchaser will make all arrangements & acquire permits required for parking for 1 large vehicle at loading area of the venue; this area shall not be in an emergency exit lane & shall be a legal, secure space. Artist will need access to the space from load-in on day of performance until load-out is complete. The area shall be properly secured; if necessary Purchaser will place a security guard in this area. This is more important in the UK than here, but still a helpful clause. It's useless trying to unload from 5 blocks away!

3. If Purchaser is providing lodging, Purchaser will reserve 3 double rooms at a clean, comfortable hotel reasonably close to performance location, on the same floor, accessible by elevator. Each room must have cable TV & air-conditioning. It's not that we watch so much TV as that places with cable tend to be a tiny step up from our usual Fly By Night Motel standard.


1. Purchaser shall provide Artist with telephone numbers & pagers of Purchaser's principal & representative so they can be reached at all times on day of show. How many of us have sat around a hall waiting for the Promoter's rep to show up?

2. Doors to lobby and/or house will not be opened without specific approval by Artist's tour manager, after all lighting, sound, & staging work has been completed. For this reason, we strongly suggest Purchaser's equipment & staff be set-up & ready to go when Artist arrives; laxity in this area may result in delays to the show. There's not much more you can do about this but hope; at least you've warned them. My former agency got complaints about me running late last fall from a venue whose sound system didn't arrive until after 5 pm for a 7 pm show!

DRESSING ROOM/HOSPITALITY: here is where you can actually improve your life on the road!

1. At Purchaser's sole expense Purchaser agrees to provide 1 clean, private dressing room, accessible to the state without crossing ANY public areas including lobby, hallways, entranceways, or the main audience area of the hall. This room shall have direct, private access to washroom facilities with working toilet, 2 rolls toilet paper, soap, towels, sink, and hot & cold running water. The room shall have adequate heating, air-conditioning, & a minimum of 4 20-amp electrical outlets.

2. It is imperative that nothing in dressing room contain feathers or down - Artist is highly allergic!

3. Dressing room furnishings shall consist of, at Purchaser's sole expense, minimally:

  1. seating for 4 persons including 1 straight backed chair (for making up)
  2. one full length mirror
  3. one well lit professional makeup mirror
  4. one standard table for makeup use with minimum top size 30" x 36"
  5. 3 large clean cotton towels (bath-size) & four small dark cotton towels
  6. one lined garbage pail
  7. one box of unscented Kleenex or other facial tissue.

or whatever else you want in your room. I've seen people request specific wall colors, fresh carpet, candles, incense, cleaning equipment, double beds... the possibilities for creativity are endless.

4. Purchaser agrees to provide the following items in the dressing room. Non-alcoholic liquids must be available from time of Artist's load-in. All other items should be in dressing room at commencement of soundcheck:

  1. 12 unopened bottles of single serving spring water (this covers me onstage & after, too)
  2. 6 large bottles of spring water (covers backstage, guests, the drive back)
  3. one large ice chest full of ice (yes, I've had them arrive ice-less, that's why it's specific)
  4. a pot of fresh-brewed decaffeinated coffee, skim milk & sugar available
  5. hot water for tea, and "health-food style" tea
  6. one large bowl of fresh seasonal fruit for four
  7. one small deli tray of mixed vegetables, low fat dip, non-processed cheeses, & crackers. If dinner is a buyout please add sliced deli meats (no packaged meats), 2 cans tuna in water, bread, lettuce, tomato, & condiments (I realize this sounds picky, but I normally go out for 4-8 weeks at a time, playing 5 dates a week & driving most of it; this is usually our only "real" meal of the day)
  8. one 6-pack of Amstel light or other low-calorie beer, on ice (You can't get this at schools or churches, but it's sometimes nice for everyone after the gig is done & you're back in your rooms with all the bars & stores in town closed)
  9. one small bottle of Remy Martin/Martel/Courvoisier cognac OR one bottle of "decent Merlot/Shiraz OR one bottle very dry Pouilly Fume/Fuisse (Hah. I can count on one hand the number of times someone actually took the trouble to spend $8.50 & provide this. It's an immediate indicator of how much attention they're paying.)
  10. a minimum of 12 large plastic/Styrofoam cups, plus hot liquid cups as necessary
  11. napkins, plates, spoons, knives, forks, openers as necessary

Now some folk singers think this is already way too much, and some just don't care. I usually don't care either, until it's my 6th show in a row with 400 miles a day behind me in a dry state with nothing open after midnight. That's also one of the reasons we inserted the "Dinner" section, below; particularly in theaters, if you only have one vehicle or you're doing press or sound check is late, you just can't leave the building to go eat supper.


1. Purchaser agrees to provide a HOT MEAL immediately following Artist's soundcheck but no later than 5.30 pm for an 8 pm show. The catered meal for 4 should be served in the dressing room or a private setting on premises. The meal should consist of hot entree, vegetables, soup or salad, potato/rice/pasta, dessert, & iced tea/chilled water. Vegetarian meals are acceptable but not necessary. The meal must have NO EGGS, Artist is allergic. Lots of clubs will offer to take you to a local restaurant, which is really nice, but I get distracted if I go out before a show. This is my compromise.

2. If venue is a club with a full service kitchen, it is acceptable to allow Artist & personnel to order without charge from the regular menu. No restrictions will be placed on type of food ordered. (Don't you hate it when you haven't eaten in 14 hours & they offer you potato skins while you stare at steak?)

3. Purchaser may elect to buy-out dinner; in that event, Purchaser must provide a minimum of $15 per person & fulfill the extra requirements above under DRESSING ROOM 4(g).

This means if they don't want the hassle they can pay us something toward dinner; I'd rather have dinner any day with my type of schedule, but the $15 a head makes them think twice about stiffing us.


Please note: This show is very dynamic & not a typical "folk" performance. It is acoustic guitar played at electric guitar levels with reggae quantities of bass. Vocal intelligibility is of primary importance, so all seats must receive full range, even sound coverage. The system should be capable of producing 110 dB of clear, undistorted sound at mix position. Mix console & related equipment MUST be on separate circuits from lighting systems. This got inserted after an outdoor show at a municipal venue where 3500 people were trying to hear a sound system suited to 350. We got a lot of complaints; they blamed me & my sound person.

AT NO TIME will any equipment being used by Artist be touched, moved, or used by anyone else between end of Artist sound check & end of Artist's last performance; this includes faders, channels, cords, monitors, eq, outboard, microphones, etc. Yes it sounds harsh; yes we negotiate on it, but only at the gig, with the other artist.. Obviously if I'm working with someone I know they can use my stuff. But I don't know ANY Artist who wouldn't prefer that their stuff be left alone - even though engineers say "I put it back exactly", they can't, and you pay for it at showtime. This clause is not negotiable except in case of Festivals where all equipment is used by everyone & there are no soundchecks.

Artist will use a minimum of 12 input channels at Front Of House console. 4 stereo inputs for guitars, 2 for vocals (spare included), 6 for outboard (reverb, Jamman etc). A talk-back/return to monitors from FOH is necessary. If system has limiters, Artist's sound tech must have access to them. This went in after a disgruntled local sound man patched the entire system through his limiters, locked them in the closet turned up full, and left the building just before show time.

The Stage front, sides, & wings should be covered with dark material. Purchaser will make provisions to black out any work lights or house lights during shows; exit lights will be dimmed as low as local law allows. This is to counter the gig I did last year in a gorgeous church whose overhead lights were all trained on the pulpit, unfortunately 8 feet above & behind my stage position. Talk about competition!


1. Purchaser and/or Purchaser's representative must be at the facility from time of load-in until load-out is finished, & available to artist's technical personnel. Representatives must have authority to make decisions on behalf of Purchaser, and must be fluent in English. You'd be surprised...

2. All stage, lighting, sound & security personnel will, for the duration of this engagement, be under the direction of Artist & Artist's representative.

3. At Purchaser's sole cost & expense Purchaser will provide the following personnel who must be present from time of load-in through end of load-out:

a) one experienced sound engineer, familiar with all the equipment in this rider, capable of re-rigging equipment &/or running front of house if necessary, with an assistant capable of running monitors

b) one experienced stagehand familiar with the venue

c) one experienced lighting person who'll gel & focus as necessary before & after sound check, & be available to run lights during the show.

d) one experienced spotlight operator available from opening of doors until end of show.


What follows is a listing of all the stuff I need for my own show. Every show will be different. Here are some basic suggestions for you to work from, with my own choices in italics:

The mixing position should include 1 24 channel x 4 x 2 console (Yamaha, TAC, Soundcraft Delta 800, Midas or the equivalent) with 4-band parametric eq on each channel, phantom power, mute, pan, at least 6 auxiliary sends, high pass filters, & channel insert points.

Then there's a list of the outboard stuff we want, including 1 CD player set up for house playback, 1 digital reverb Yamaha SPX 990 or better, cables, speakers & amps to suit the venue, etc.


High quality monitoring is crucial to this show; if monitors are run from house there must be at least 2 aux sends switchable both pre & post fade & EQ. The monitor system must be capable of providing 4 separate mixes through 5 bi-amplified wedges. Again, this is me. Sometimes when there's monitors at the front instead of the stage, they don't think that you may need eq or volume independent of the hall sound. I use bi-amped wedges because they sound 100% better. I use 2 mixes (one is almost all guitar, in the sidefills; one almost all voice, in front); the 5th monitor is in case one's broken. Clubs usually can't provide all of this but at least it warns them.


We provide a very simple sketch of what the stage looks like (it's got to be simple, I drew it) so people can be set up and ready to go when we arrive.

We will carry our own vocal mics unless otherwise discussed but will require the following:

  1. two high-quality acoustic guitar stands
  2. one 'bar' stool to hold water & towels
  3. one black thin cloth to dress stage area directly in front of microphone
  4. 1 heavy weight tripod boom stand for front vocal
  5. 1 roll black high quality Gaffer's tape
  6. 3 active DI boxes for stereo guitar & spare line


The show will run the gamut from quiet "folk ballads" to intensely loud guitar solos where Artist will be moving around downstage, next to house stacks, in front of stacks or in the audience. There MUST be adequate lighting on stage & stairs for Artist to see where she is going!

Purchaser will provide a professional lighting system with adequate instruments & coverage for the venue. There follows a list of gel numbers, a request for back, side & front lighting, general stage washes as well as isolated pools in various colors.


A sound check (MINIMUM 1 HOUR) will be required on day of performance after stage is set & all equipment is in operating order. The sound check shall occur at least 3 hours prior to performance time. All work on the stage & house must be suspended during sound check unless authorized by Artist's tour manager. This is because I almost got killed in Ireland when a lighting ladder toppled over onto the piano I was sitting at.

A typical show schedule might be:

2:00 Purchaser's crew arrive & load-in, setup FOH, monitors, lights; 3:30 Artist's arrival & load-in; set up equipment, final positions for lighting; confer with lighting person & check system; 4:45 begin sound check; 5:45 end sound check/dinner break; 8:00 start of show.

If you have any questions about any of the items contained in this rider please contact name of contact at telephone number.

Purchaser signs here & dates it

Artist's rep signs here & dates it

ps about those brown M&M's... it seems at some point during the '80's Van Halen had a clause put in their rider specifying a bowl of M&M's be left in the green room with all the brown M&M's removed. Much fun was made of this, but Van Halen's explanation a few years ago was that a) when they got to the gig it was a quick way to tell if the rider had been read, b) it was usually a good way to yell "breach of contract!"

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