There are a lot of benefits to being a performer aren’t there? You can do what you love and entertain crowds of thousands of people. But of course, we already know that, don’t we. One of the benefits a lot of people don’t know about is the artist rider, but what is it?
The artist rider might sound like a very strange type of fan or hype-man, but don’t worry, it isn’t. An artist rider is actually a set of requests (or demands if you want to be stricter) that a performer can ask for if they are booked to perform at a festival or show.
You can think of it as the criteria they ask for if they’re to perform at a certain venue. The host of the venue is then typically expected to fulfil the rider requests beforehand. Now you might have heard of some of the stranger requests or demands some artists have made already, but an artist rider is actually split into two main categories, it isn’t all fancy foods.
An artist rider covers hospitality and technical. The hospitality area covers things like food, drinks, transportation, accommodation, security, assistants, toiletries, and hygiene requirements.
The technical rider requirements are related to the performance including things like sound equipment, instruments, backing singers, lighting, crews, power requirements, and more. So you see, artist rider requirements aren’t all about those luxuries; they cover the important technical aspects of the performance as well.
But before we go on to take our deep dive into what an artist rider is all about and examine some of the stranger rider requests, we should take a look at the third category that comes under artist riders. Yes, as we said earlier there are usually only two but some artists (usually the more famous ones) do also have merchandising to consider.
Merchandising is usually only a factor when artists go on tour and it looks at what equipment will be needed to sell merchandise at the venue like stalls, stands, and tables. It may also include things like exclusivity rates and merchandising rates as well.
Why You Should Have An Artist Rider
So, that is the lowdown on what exactly an artist rider is and what they cover. But why should you have one? Well for one thing, without the artist rider process it would be very difficult for any artist to actually ensure they can perform to an acceptable standard.
It will also ensure that the artist feels comfortable on stage and that both them and their dancers, band, or backing singers can perform the way they want to. It also covers all the important safety concerns as well; like lighting, power requirements, and more.
But of course, we also need to consider the other positives of the artist rider process by looking at the hospitality side of things. Now of course this covers important things like security and hygiene, but also the more fun side of things!
Yes, as we’ve seen, the artist rider process isn’t just about food and drink, but hey that is where all the fun is. Being able to ask for your favourite snacks to have ready for before and after a performance is undeniably cool, and at WeJam we think it’s an essential part of the artist-experience.
Don’t we all have that artist fantasy where we can call the shots? Yes, it isn’t all funny food and drink requests and some musicians have certainly taken it to extremes, but many have also been very respectful with it.
But let’s be honest there is often a fine line between respectful and ludicrous when it comes to the artist rider. A lot of the fun is looking at the extremes and some famous artists have certainly had some outlandish demands. Let’s look at some examples of famous (or perhaps infamous) artist riders from performers.
Famous Artist Riders
You have likely heard of at least a couple of examples of musicians who have made some very strange requests for their performances. Sometimes these can be technical requirements, but it is usually the hospitality section that sees the most outlandish requests.
Perhaps one of the most famous examples of an unusual artist rider request was Van Halen asking for a bowl of M&M’s being in their dressing room for every performance. That might sound pretty simple, but in this case, the band asked for all the brown M&M’s to be removed. If they weren’t, then the band would not perform.
This request was quite notorious in its day, but it did actually have some significant reasoning behind it. The lead singer of Van Halen, David Lee Roth, revealed in his autobiography that this request was made to help ensure every venue paid close attention to the other more technical requests.
It was planned by the band because a member of their crew had almost suffered a serious injury: a venue hadn’t paid attention to one of their earlier requests for ensuring their stage was safe and secure. So, it makes you wonder how many other performers add the one outlandish request to ensure their other more important ones are being followed.
The Rolling Stones
Van Halen might have a reason for their unusual request, but we can’t really say the same about The Rolling Stones. For their headline performance at Coachella in 2016, lead singer and frontman Mick Jagger asked for a 36-meter air-conditioned running track.
Each act was allocated a meter of land for friends and family, so there was room, but we have to wonder why he didn’t just request a treadmill? But then again, we aren’t the frontman of a legendary rock band, are we?
Well, you don’t get a diva reputation like Mariah without having some very out-there demands do you? There have been rumours about her requesting kittens and doves, but they have yet to be proven true.
In fact, one of her rider requests we do know about, while a little odd, isn’t overly demanding. She asked for full-length drapes around the perimeter of every room and eight-feet tall leafy plants. We guess she really likes her privacy and imposingly tall plant life.
With her impressive career through the 70s and 80s, Grace Jones also built up a reputation for some unusual artist rider requests. While there is plenty of expensive wine and sushi dishes to talk about, it’s the oysters that many people remember. Jones asked for fresh oysters, but most famously stated she would do her own shucking, so a high-quality oyster knife was on the list as well.
Given his legendary status, Jay-z’s food requests of good quality peanut butter and jelly might sound pretty normal. However, it was also reported in 2009 that his artist rider requested 7 different dressing rooms. We can’t really say for sure why he needed all that space, but we’re sure it was put to good use.
You probably expected Prince to have some unusual rider requests, and he didn’t disappoint. There have been a lot of rumours about his rider requests, but perhaps the most outlandish was asking for luxury accommodation to be built near the O2 Arena in London.
It was also reported that he asked for all furniture and other items in his dressing room to be covered in plastic wrap. It would only be removed by himself when he arrived and was ready to use it.
So, that is a look at some of the more outlandish and unusual requests made by artists. Personally, at WeJam we don’t always think these artists were being serious. Some have even come out and stated they didn’t always expect their demands to be met, maybe some are just tongue in cheek?
But then again we can certainly see a lot of famous musicians being quite demanding – it is part of the rock and roll lifestyle after all. And if you want to live out your rock and roll fantasy then WeJam can help, and you’ll be happy to know that yes, we do have our own rider service as well!
The WeJam Rider
At WeJam we have made it possible for you to live out your rock star rider fantasies! And yes, our team will be happy to cater to your demands – after all, you’re the star, aren’t you? But what can you expect for your first artist rider?
Well, you can’t demand everything, not even the big name musicians can always expect their rider demands to be met after all. But at WeJam we do have quite the selection on offer, from small simple things like the infamous bowl of M&M’s (no brown ones included) inspired by Van Halen, to ensuring you have all the Red Bull you need just like Eminem.
If you want something a little more luxurious, then why not have some Versace hand towels at the ready just like Kanye, or we could even pick you up in an armoured Mercedes just like Whitney Houston asked for. Check out our riders page to see exactly what we offer, and remember, at WeJam you’re the star!