Being a live sound engineer has taught me many life lessons; one of those is ‘not having a tech rider is better than a bad tech rider’. If you came looking for this post, I don’t have to tell you what a tech rider is. It’s your band’s technical profile/requirement for the organizers, sound vendor and engineer to be prepared with stuff you need on stage.
Do you need one?
If you want to put a gig together without too many words flying around during sound check, yes. Tech riders are great, they not only bring the sound vendor and sound engineer up to speed, but also work as a brilliant check list for the band.
It’s your insurance policy in case the equiment is a mess. I am using some screen grabs from a tech rider I use for Swarathma, a band I frequently travel with.
What goes into a tech rider?
1. The line up
This gives a simple but precise overview of the band.
2. Equipment/ Backline
List out gear that each band member will need on stage.
3. Stage Layout
Visual stage layout with marked positions. I use a software called Stage Plot Pro, which comes in both Mac and Windows versions. The best I have come across yet – makes the process simple.
4. Input patch list
This is self explanatory. I include my microphone preferences along with DI and mic stand requirement. This ensures the vendor doesn’t run out of either of them.
5. Monitoring requirements and send assignment
All information regarding stage monitoring for the band.
6. Any other special needs/ requests
A subtle reminder for the basics, but often ignored.
7. Your sound engineer’s requirements (if you have one)
In this case, I have my requirements in the respective pages. For example, my mic and DI requirement are in the input list, which makes for fewer pages and puts information in relevant places.
I usually put in a PA and FOH requirement to make sure I have at least the bare minimum to work with. This is an indicative list of equipment I am comfortable working with. Check with your sound engineers to make sure you get it right.
8. Contact Information
Make sure you include contact information for your bands tech representative and manager in case the vendor or organiser need to get any clarification or check on alternative gear availability. Provide band name, phone and email details on each page.
1. Mention your band’s name and tech contact in the header/footer on every page. The stage crew/ festival tech is provided with only pages relevant to them, like patch list or stage layout while backline page is provided to the team handling it. At the FOH, I have received such pages at festivals many times and had no clue which band it belonged to or who to call for clarifications.
2. Mention page numbers on every page in this format – ‘Page 1 of 4’. That way, the on-ground tech knows if the pages they received is the whole story or not.
3. Don’t make it longer than 2-3 pages including the stage layout. It will get ignored most of the time, utilize space wisely. Like the example above, the input list and aux assignment is included on the stage layout page. The input list has the mic requirement. Technically, the stage crew can use one page – the stage layout, while input list page can be used as a patching reference at the FOH.
4. Make sure you follow up the tech rider with a phone call. This way, when you ask questions regarding backline and other gear, you can ensure that they will read it at least once.
5. You won’t always get what you want – the rider doesn’t always guarantee the gear. If some gear has not been matched, learn to work around it. This is an opportunity to discover new gear. And if the gear is not useable, you can negotiate for better gear using the rider you sent, or worst case, cancel the gig. You may not have the liberty to do this, but you have something to back you up for that rainy day.
6. Last but not the least, thank the person for reading it all the way! And of course do mention endorsements.