OK – So you got your band put together with some lazy-ass drum player, got your first songs written and even convinced some filthy place to let you play your first concert in front of five people. Although this sounds crappy, it might be your start of something big and you should make your first gig as perfect as possible! You got everything finished to head off to the venue when suddenly their sound guy calls you and asks for your stage rider.
A Stage Rider? WHAT THE F***?!?!?
Shit, you missed one of the most important pieces of paper a band can have! To avoid this situation I want to show you how to make a stage rider!
What is a Stage Rider?
Every band is different. Some may have a crazy violin player with them. Some have a drummer that needs his frickin’ 25 different cymbals to transport his “inner feelings” (huh-huh) to the audience. And some bring a complete kids choir to the venue. The important thing is: the guys that make your sound at each concert NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS. And how do they know? Well, they won’t look at your website and search for that information on their own to “accomodate rock-stars like you”. They are specifially there to help you achieve your best sound and make you look good – which is why you should help them as much as possible. The first step is to give them a piece of paper that describes as good as possible, what kind of equipment you bring and what kind of setup you need on stage!
How to start writing a stage rider
Well, just imagine you would be the sound guy for a venue and you have to make the sound of a band tonight – what would you want to know first? Exactly:
- How many musicians are in your band?
- What do they play?
- What do they need?
- What do they bring?
Write a short introduction about your band – just like a business card. Explain how big your stage needs to be (no rockstar stories here please) and if you need a backstage area (also, no rockstar requests here). If you need anything else that is important (e.g. “water on stage”) or other things that are not (e.g. “I want M&M’s, sorted by color, without the brown ones though“), then include it here.
Most important Part of your Stage Rider
The most important stage rider information is a sketch or scribble that shows your stage setup from above. You should start out with the drumset in the back and give your sound guy an impression on where everyone is on his stage and what he actually needs there. So for every guy in your band, write down an “X” where he will stand, what his name is and what instrument he plays. Scribble down his equipment he will bring on stage as well: For drummers, try to include roughly what his set looks like. If he brings 6 Floor toms or 2 hi-hats, the sound guy needs to know to bring the necessary microphones. If you play guitar, scribble down where your amp needs to stand. Also include how many electric outlets you need on stage (use a flash as a symbol) and if your keyboarder or bass players need a DI box. Fancy stuff like the acoustic guitar YOU NEED FOR ONE FUCKING SONG also needs to be included. On top of that, add how many different monitor sounds you need.
Additional things for your Stage Rider
Some bands need to consider additional stuff they should include, like…
- …do you need the stage to be ready at a certain time?
- …do you need amplifiers or cabinets that you don’t bring (lazy!)?
- …do you have your own guy to do the lighting?
- …do you bring your own wireless in-ear systems?
- …and so on!
You might have heard about the most ridiculous stuff that bands included in their stage riders in the past – like lobster, champaign or stuff like that. Face it – you’re not Eric Clapton or Metallica. So stay grounded with your requests and only include the stuff you actually need. If your shitty band has bad rockstar manners, no one will let you play again at their club in the future.
- KISSS – Keep it simple and short, stupid!
- Include everything though that needs to be in there.
- Think like a sound guy – which info would you need?
- Be friendly and cooperative.
- If something at a concert goes wrong, think about if adapting your stage rider might solve this problem in the future!