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The Rider: Technical Needs

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In this short series of articles, I plan to explore the mythical "Rider". What is the rider, and why does it evoke grandiose images to the general public, and how should YOU as a touring professional view the rider. I'm also going to go thru the standard laundry list of things to think about as you create your rider. Some of these are "obvious", but it's amazing how often the obvious is not so obvious to the little podunk venue you are about to load a semi trailer full of gear into.

I've broken this series into three articles. The first covered what a rider is, and what sorts of things the Artist ought to put on for their own use. If you haven't read it, please go here. This one (the second) covers technical things that really ought to be on the rider, and the third is VERY important; it's all the little tips about the rider that often get forgotten. Stay tuned for it.

After you have nailed down what you as an artist need on a daily basis to stay happy and healthy on the road, lets explore what it takes to do a great show. This is what I would term the "technical" part of the rider. Most people think of this as the sound and lights requirements, but there is more to it than that. Lets start with some examples…

What time do you, as a band, NEED to be at the venue to set up? If it's a large production, you need to be there earlier, and the venue needs to know this so they can have the doors unlocked. Often this depends on when doors are at the venue, so some times people specify they need so many hours prior to doors.

How many loaders or local crew do you need? If you're a band traveling with a small (or no) crew, you may want to specify that a house sound engineer, a house monitor engineer and a house lighting person all be available from load-in thru the end of load-out. If you have a truck to unload, how many people do you need to get it all in the door and how long will you need them? For example, with a full 16 foot trailer of gear, you may want to specify 4 loaders, and that you will keep them for an hour or two. If you have lighting or other extensive production to set up, you will want to keep 2 or 3 for 2 to 4 hours beyond the initial load-in. Experience with your own production will soon tell you what you need in order to have you and your crew not fall flat from the daily grind.

In some cases, for larger productions, the rider will specify things about the location of off-stage costume changing areas that are not part of the dressing rooms. It will certainly specify the number of dressing rooms you need and how they are to be outfitted. It can also specify the size and height of the stage, to make sure the band gear will fit. (YES, I HAVE seen clubs bring in additional stage risers to expand the venue stage to get bands I've worked for onstage.) It may also specify the need for a barricade. In some cases, you may have the kind of show where you explicitly don't want a barricade. If you have any specific instructions for security personnel (or even to specify how many will be needed), put that in the rider as well. This might also be a good place to specify that you either need or don't need a drum riser. If you are the headliner, you will DEFINITELY want to state that NONE of YOUR equipment will be struck from the stage without your express consent after your soundcheck is over. You also want approval of the opening acts, and control of their set times. You want to be sure that YOUR show starts on time.

Do you have video you want to project, but you don't carry a screen or projection equipment? Specify you need a projector in the technical section. If you're doing video production, you may want to show people what you are bringing. Do you need risers for the cameras? Do you need specific space in the audience that the promoter can't sell seats in because a camera has to go there?

Now, on to the typical things the technical section should contain. For sound, it will contain an input list, it will contain some other specific things such as the number of monitor mixes needed, the number of compressors, limiters, and EQ's needed, the types of microphones you want. MANY riders are very specific here so that they don't get crappy sound boards or non-standard microphones. Ideally, it will include a stage plot, so the house people can know ahead of time where to set things. If you are carrying any additional sound gear, this is a good place to list it, so the venue will be ready for you. Specify the amount of stage power you want so you can plug all your gear in. You may want to specify the location of the sound consoles, so you don't end up with a sound engineer in a DJ booth trying to mix your show with no way to hear anything.

Lighting? Well, naturally, as a lighting designer, MY list of things to specify here is almost endless. Lets start with the fixtures. Some venues think colored 150 watt outdoor floodlights in coffee cans plugged into the wall are adequate for a show. I can tell you they are NOT. I start by specifying the number of lamps I want in the front, side and back of the stage along with the gel colors for them, as well as the wattages and beam spread for those lamps. I also specify the number of front specials I want (individual lights to aim at specific band members.) On a good day, I walk in and the house system has been re-gelled to match my desires. On a bad day, we start from scratch. I specify how many follow spots and operators I intend to use, and that there be a working communication system between the lighting console area, the backstage area, and the follow spot operators. If I'm not carrying any special production or moving lights with me, I'll also usually specify strobes (if appropriate for the act), color changers, floor lamps, and ACL racks that need to be part of the system and controlled by the house lighting controller. I may also specify certain house lighting controllers as NOT acceptable (like the NSI MLC-16, or the Martin 2510). I usually end up carrying some level of production with me on tour, so I like to see it mentioned in the rider. I try to include a plot of what this production is so the venue knows what to expect (see my website for the plot of augment lighting system for the last Genitorturers tour Http:// ) . I'll also specify how much power I need for these additional lights (because lights draw a lot of power). I specify that I'll need the house lighting person for the day, from load-in, thru the show, as well as load out, and that he or she will be expected to assist with the set-up of my lighting as well as the traditional regel and refocus of the house lighting system. I state the possibility that I will have them assist me with the programming of the house lighting console (as I'm often too busy overseeing other things to do it personally) as well as sometimes having them run a house console or two during the show (on headset with me calling cues to them), and finally the tear-down on my equipment at the end of the night. I'll usually specify the house lighting controller be in such a position as to offer a clear view of the stage. I will also, when carrying production, specify just exactly how much real estate my console will take up and that they may expect to move the house controller if needed to get it near my console. I specify the number of additional crew people I will be keeping specifically to assist with the set-up of the lighting system, and how long I expect to keep them. I also specify some things that may seem obvious, like the need to physically GET to the lights so we can refocus them. Basically, these are the things I need in order to make my day go smoothly. Hmm, my list is longer than the other lists. I think that's cause I know this list the best. If you get a sound guy to go over the sound list, they will undoubtedly point out holes in it. Please also note that on many smaller tours, I DON'T get everything that I want on the rider, simply because it's not necessary to specify things at that level.

Ok, at this point you have a rough idea of what it takes to write the technical side of the rider, and after that huge laundry list, I'm going to let you all take a break. Please stay tuned for the last installment. The philosophy of how to write a rider and how you as a band ought to think of it as a tool in your bag of touring tricks…

John Schlick is a full time Concert Lighting Designer who lives in Seattle when he is not touring. His website is http://eXotic-Lighting.Com, and you can contact him at with any questions about the lighting business (or to hire him).

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