A tech rider (or technical rider) provides a concise summary of a band’s or artist’s technical requirements for live shows to deliver the best possible performance. They can be an invaluable pitching tool, setting you apart from other would-be artists looking to secure a place on stage. For more established musicians, a well-crafted techrider speeds up the process of preparing a gig and makes quick work of soundchecks.
If an event organizer is looking at dozens of EPKs from bands and solo performers for a sought-after spot at a festival, it’s artists with professional-looking tech riders who are going to stand out.
Don’t know how to write a tech rider? Perhaps your current band rider could do with a little work. No need to worry. Below, we’ll break down what you need to know about crafting a killer tech rider that will help you secure more gigs and take full advantage of the live music circuit.
Understanding the Basics of a Tech Rider
A tech rider is essentially a detailed list of stage and sound instructions that need to be delivered to any venue you’ll be playing at. This technical information will also be sent to any stage managers or sound engineers assigned to the venue on the date you’re booked to play.
Although some tech riders are fairly concise, they contain a lot of information. It breaks down your technical requirements as an artist. Venues and event organizers can use this information to decide whether or not they wish to book you or prepare for a gig.
Do Musicians Need Tech Riders?
If you’re just starting out in your music career, the consistent exposure and experience offered by live performance is invaluable, making tech riders essential.
Many of the issues that are flagged during a soundcheck are typically the result of tech rider shortcomings. It’s easy for artists to forget to include a critical item when compiling a music performance equipment list. What’s more, some artists fail to specify their preferences when outlining their technical requirements.
If you’ve already mastered the art of writing a compelling music press release and perfected your artist bio, now’s the time to prioritize your tech rider. If you want to make the right first impression with venue owners
If you want to make a great first impression with venue owners and promoters, you’ll need to have a polished tech rider ready to go. Without one, you’ll struggle to be taken seriously when attempting to secure live gigs and festival slots.
Components of a Tech Rider
When creating a tech rider for musicians, it’s best to break up the larger document into a few key sections:
Performance Equipment List
Otherwise known as a backline list, this is a full inventory of the equipment you’ll be bringing along with you for your performance. If you need any additional kit to perform, you’ll need to raise this in the tech rider and make the request well in advance.
Emerging musicians probably won’t have many technical requirements, but the list can expand as you begin playing to larger crowds. Will everyone on stage require their own monitor? Do you have something specific in mind for front of house mixing? Rather than save these for the soundcheck, preempt any problems by outlining them all in your tech rider.
To deliver the best possible performance, you need to perfect the art of creating a stage plot. A stage plot is a visual aid that specifies where each performer will be on stage. Aside from musicians themselves, it should include the location of microphones, monitors, and instruments.
Sound and Lighting Requirements
Along with your input list, you should include any sound specifics in your tech rider. Don’t be too surprised if the sound engineer at a venue makes a slight departure from your requests. They know the acoustic properties of the venue better than anyone, so any changes will be made in your favor.
Up-and-coming artists don’t usually have any significant requests when it comes to lighting. If you do, check with the venue to see if they have access to a lighting designer.
How to Write a Tech Rider
Before you start putting together a tech rider, do your homework. Take time to research venues you’re either interested in or have already been booked to play at. It’s easy enough to find out the capabilities of a space, with most venues having a readily available tech package.
A tech pack will include general details about the venue, its facilities, and more specific insights into the sound systems it uses. If the information isn’t detailed enough for your needs, reach out to venue owners.
Organization and Formatting
An effective tech rider starts with a solid introduction. Kick things off with a preamble that outlines who you are and what you do. If you’re in a band, include information about every member, along with images and the contact details of everyone.
By underlining everyone’s individual role, it’s easier for venue owners and engineers to touch base with the right people regarding technical queries. It’s also worth providing a link to some audio samples of your work. With these as a reference, nothing will be left to interpretation.
Backline and Technical Requirements
In the next section, summarize what performance equipment you’ll be able to bring with you. You can also mention what you’d need a venue to deliver if you were to perform. Nothing not covered in the venue tech pack can be addressed here.
Do you have any major concerns about the venue and its suitability? Do you require the venue to provide you with additional equipment? Extra mics and support staff are standard but don’t forget to check about other basics like electrical sockets and PA systems.
Stage Plots and Input Lists
At the very least, a stage plot should specify the number of people who’ll be on stage and what they’ll be doing. You’ll also need to include a detailed input list. Bear in mind that sound engineers may decide to make changes. However, they know the venue better than you do, so it’s always a good idea to bite your tongue and trust their judgment.
IMG: stage plots/input list
Be specific here, listing every component of larger instruments and desired microphone models and stand types. Include a diagram to make life easier for everyone. Images can help organizers visualize performance requirements, while diagrams are also useful for streamlining soundchecks on the day of a gig itself.
With all the technical details taken care of, you’re ready to bring things to a close. Include anything else you deem relevant or need clarification on. Do you have any special requests? What about hospitality expectations? Make a note here to avoid any disappointment later on. If you haven’t yet included those all-important contact details, now’s the time to do so.
Collaboration with Sound Engineers
Sound engineers are the people who make it possible for you to perform, so make sure they have all the details they need in advance. Provided you’ve included sufficient contact information in your tech rider, a sound engineer can reach out to you if any urgent issues need discussing.
Tech Rider Best Practices
A technical rider is a definitive document that outlines what you need to deliver the performance you’ve promised. Nothing should be left open to interpretation. Be clear and concise in your wording to avoid any confusion and delays come the day of the soundcheck.
As well as specifying your requests, remember to mention what you’ll be bringing to the venue. Don’t forget to add references to make life easier. Diagrams are a must for stage plots, while audio samples can provide context if audio requirements are complex.
Don’t include unrealistic demands in your tech riser. It’s fine to expect a venue to provide some support and resources, but you need to cover your share. Even if a tech rider contains a lot of nice-to-haves, you still still accept some compromise.
A slick tech rider suggests you’re a serious player in the industry, presenting you as a confident artist with a handle on the specifics of live performance. A venue is far more likely to book someone with these qualities than someone without.
Technical Rider Examples
Still wondering how to write a tech rider? Below are a couple of useful tech rider examples to help you on your way.
Example 1: Stage Plots
One of the most important tech rider essentials is a reader-friendly stage plot. A simple diagram will make your next performance go more smoothly, while also endearing you to sound tech teams. Sometimes, keeping it simple is the best course of action.
As far as technical rider examples go, the stage plot diagram is fairly basic. However, it captures all the key points that a sound engineer will be looking for. The positions of musicians, monitors, instruments, and more are all clearly defined. Of course, you can be as detailed as you like with your own stage plot.
Example 2: Input Lists
Alongside a stage plot, it’s an input list that will guarantee a great performance. Input lists can be fairly succinct, as with the tech rider example above. A basic input list will include little more than snake channel and input. However, as with the technical rider example above, you’ll want to include your preferences for microphones.
While you can keep it simple with a barebones input list like the one in this example, it’s best to provide as much detail as possible. There’s no guarantee a venue will be able to deliver exactly what you’re asking for, so the more information you can provide, the better.
Prioritize Your Performance with a Tech Rider
If you’re serious about tapping into the lucrative live performance market, a tech rider is one asset you can’t be without. This exhaustive breakdown of stage setup, sound requirements, and equipment requests might seem like overkill when playing smaller venues, but it can set you apart from the competition when establishing yourself on the live circuit.
A comprehensive tech rider will make quick work of securing live opportunities with the best venues. While tech riders may be fairly lightweight for emerging musicians, they’re still useful for streamlining soundchecks and presenting yourself in a professional light. Furthermore, once you’ve locked down your tech rider, you don’t have to worry about the technical side of production. Instead, you’re free to focus on putting in the best performance possible, every time.