Summer is just around the corner, which usually means … live shows! You may have had the opportunity to find a booking agent for you or your band and are now ready to go on tour! Therefore, it is incredibly important that you know how to write a good tech rider for your upcoming shows.
What is a tech rider? Very simply, it’s a list of technical stage instructions that allows the venue where you will be performing in, as well as the engineers who might work the gig, to be ready for your technical requirements. It’s a document that contains all of the relevant information on your band and it is an incredibly important communication tool.
In my personal experience as a touring engineer, I have seen a variety of tech riders and today, I want to share with you the 7 most important points that should never be missing on your own tech rider!
1. Line Up and Equipment List
In the first part of your tech rider, it is good practice to introduce the members of the band, mention their names and which instruments they will be playing. The idea is to give the venue a quick overview of how many people they are expecting and the kind of instrumentation. This can be done as a simple list but it can also be presented with a well organized table that highlights the band members, their instruments or for example, whether or not they are going to use an amplifier or a DI (Direct Injection) box … venues and engineers will be very appreciative if you do this!
In the image below, you can find an example of a tech rider from a fictional band.
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2. Backline in the Tech Rider
In a live show setting, it’s fundamental to familiarize yourself with some technical terminology. One of the most common terms used is “backline”. The backline refers to all of that equipment that is going to be required on stage for the artist(s) to perform. This includes guitar amps, bass cabinets, drum kits… but also music stands, stools, mic stands, tables and more.
This list outlines everything that the artist needs from the venue to put on the show. This must be agreed to in advance, in order to allow the venue to rent equipment, if necessary, and avoid terrible surprises on the day of the show.
In some occasions, backline can include instruments such as guitars, basses, synthesisers or pianos; this will depend on the size of the venue and their availability.
The artist should specify any preference in brands or gear makers for example:
- A Vox AC30 Tube Amplifier for electric guitar is preferred but a Fender amp is acceptable too. Tubes must be in good condition.
- A 5 piece professional drum kit (Pearl or Tema preferred). Include the size of the drums and let the venue know if the drummer will be bringing their own cymbals, kick pedal… etc.
- Specify the size of any table: give dimensions and mention what the purpose is going to be (“require a table for an Ableton Push”)
3. Input List and Stage Plot
An input list is a list of all the audio lines that will be necessary for your show. This list, will highlight every single stage connection that the engineer is going to be making and it gives them an idea of how many channels are going to be required of them for the show.
Depending on the size of the venue and the relevance of the band, an artist might specify which preferred microphones they would like to see in the set up and for which instrument.
Keep in mind, that an engineer will likely organise this list in the way they see most fit to the situation, keeping in mind what the requirements are.
It’s great practice to let the venue know if you are going to be bringing any of your own microphones and remember that it is your responsibility to provide 1/4 inch TRS cables (or “Jacks”) for your instrument, but the venue will take care of all the microphone cables (XLR).
Often, input lists are followed by a stage plot, a rough block diagram that shows where each band member is going to be placed on the stage. This is important because it allows the venue to account for space so that they could begin to set up, prior to your arrival, and then only make minor changes if necessary.
4. Monitors and Front of House (FOH)
Once again, depending on the size of your act, and the size of the venue, your band might be able to make specific requests with regards to stage monitoring and front of house. In this section of the tech rider, it’s key to specify how many monitor speakers you will require, if each band member requires an individual monitor feed or not, if you will be needing in ear wireless monitoring or not, etc…
Similarly, you can specify what kind of effects you might need on the FOH mix, your requirements for the PA system, and for the mixing console. Make sure to specify if you will be bringing your own engineers and, if possible, put them in touch with the venue or production manager to agree on what their requirements are.
Very often, emerging artists and smaller acts don’t have their own engineer and they will be looked after by the in-house venue technicians. This might sound strange, but it is okay to specify if you have any preference on what language the engineers speak and to ask for them to be “sober”, for example.
Don’t forget to mention if you require any specific outboard gear to be used for your set and if you need to be able to use a Dante network to send information to and from stage and/or record your performance!
If possible, try to include in your tech rider a list of all the songs you are going to perform. There are a few reasons to do so:
- It gives the venue and the engineers an idea of how long the show is going to be
- It provides a cue sheet to understand the different sections of the concert
- It is useful for lighting design
- It can be used by the venue for your royalty allocation (artists should receive royalty payments even when they perform by companies like ASCAP or BMI if their songs are registered)
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6. Additional Requests and Hospitality
In this final section of the tech rider, you can include all other relevant information: what time the set up is going to be, when the line check and sound check will take place, how much time you will need for soundcheck, etc…
But also, this is the section in the tech rider where the act can ask for any hospitality resources such as:
- Food and Beverages
- Changing/Dressing Rooms
- Any other miscellaneous items (towel, tissues…)
7. Contact Information
Last but not least, the tech rider should have all the necessary contact information for the venue to be able to contact the person responsible for the management of the band or artist in case something needs to be clarified or if there are any points that need to be discussed and arranged.
– Written by Giorgio Schipani in its original version, translated by Betty Gonzalez Gray –