Why Every Performing Musician Needs a Tech Rider

By Connor McCoy, Spire Contributor | October 18, 2018

Why Every Performing Musician Needs a Tech Rider

The last thing performing musicians want is to spend hours perfecting their live set only to show up at the event beforehand and realize that the venue doesn’t have any of the equipment that they need. To prevent this, most venues will ask a band or performer for a “tech rider” after officially booking the performer, a great way to ensure a better live performance.

A rider is a list of items, amenities, or accommodations that a performer requests to a venue to have beforehand in order to better prepare for the artist’s arrival.

A tech rider, on the other hand, goes more into detail on the technical side of the event, letting the venue know:

How many people will be performing and their positions on stage

Which instruments each person plays

What equipment the performer/band needs the venue to provide (monitors, mics, stands, cables)

Where on stage the equipment needs to be

Tech riders come in all shape and sizes; there’s not really a strict rule on what they have to look like or include. It varies between each band and the type of performance they plan on putting on. Some tech riders are fully illustrated, and have clearly had a large amount of effort put into them, but don’t be intimidated! Of course you can make your tech rider stand out by adding colored or 3D illustrations, but as long as you include the basic information so that it’s quickly readable by a venue or a sound engineer, you’ve done the job. Venues are very familiar with tech riders, and can often find their way around one as long as it is clearly labeled and easy to navigate.

Most tech riders start with a large illustration or “stage plot” of where each band member and their respective instrument stands on stage. This gives the venue a quick overview of exactly what basic setup they can expect from an act, like if your vocalist needs room for weird instruments to sing into, and helps to relate the rest of the information to the overall setup.

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And remember to be specific, it’s important to include every piece of equipment that you need from the venue. It’s most beneficial to do this in the form of lists: tell the venue what exactly you’ll be bringing and what you expect them to provide. Something like this.

 

The band will provide:

Full drum kit

Electric bass

Electric guitar

Bass amp

Guitar amp

2 ¼” cables

2 A.C adapters for both amps

 

The venue will provide:

Carpet

3 mic stands

3 mics (shure SM47 or similar)

3 XLR cables

One 45 or larger key keyboard

Keyboard stand

DI

2-speaker PA system w/ mixer and at least 3 XLR inputs and 1 line input

 

List of mics/effects/and comments for a common tech rider:

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It’s also a good move to include near the end of your tech rider: “If the venue can’t provide any of the items listed above, please contact (your email here) in order to work out other arrangements.”

While you hope that the venue is able to accommodate every artist and band, you’ll find that some smaller venues won’t be able to provide every piece of equipment that you ask for, and that’s ok. A tech rider is a professional way of letting a venue know that you have prepared your show beforehand and hold yours and their time in high regards.

Wrap-up

For the venue/engineer to get an idea of what your music sounds like, put any links that you have to your music near the end of your tech rider as well! This helps the engineer put your visuals to your sound, and understand your live performance a little better.

Most musicians forget one of the most important things on their tech rider: their contact information! Most engineers will print out a hard copy of your tech rider, and if there’s something on the rider that they don’t understand, they’ll need a quick way to contact you before the show. A phone number and email will help to ensure that the venue has no excuse for not being able to contact you incase of an emergency or last minute clarification.

And lastly...THANK THE VENUE. It’s always a smart move to thank the venue/sound engineer at the bottom of the rider. If all goes well, they’ve taken the time to read your requests and do their best to make sure your performance goes as smoothly as possible. You’re much more likely to have better communication and a better technical result if you cultivate a healthy and grateful relationship with the venue directors and engineers. Not only does a tech rider show steady professionalism, it helps make everybody’s night easier and dissolves any unforeseen confusions before the setup even happens.