By Thomas DeVoy
When you make a band the last thing you think about is the paperwork involved. There's only a couple of things you need to look drastically more professional. This paperwork is called a "Production Bid" and "Technical Rider." Most people refer to the whole thing as a "Rider." The three main things included in a production bid is an INPUT LIST, STAGE PLOT, and TECHNICAL INFORMATION. They are quick and easy to make and you don't need any graphic design skills to accomplish it. A lot of venues will request these things and you want to be prepared. You can also use these when you are approaching venues or festivals and asking to play.
An input list is exactly what it sounds like. It's a list of inputs for every microphone you are going to be using. Every soundboard has a number of inputs that range from 4-128. Most boards have 16-32 inputs or "channels." Each input is assigned a number and every microphone will be plugged into one of these inputs to run sound to the soundboard and then out of the speakers, Your input list can be created on a word document, and can look as simple as this:
Input lists are practically useless if you are not using your own FOH (Front of House) or sound man. If the venue has it's own FOH then they are going to run the input's the way they are most comfortable with. And it doesn't matter to you. You won't even notice and shouldn't care. It is however important to include it so you can include this statement at the bottom:
"Venue needs to provide all PA equipment and equal or better quality microphones listed in the input list"
This is important because your production bid is essentially a contract. When a venue accepts your production bid they are accepting a contract that is legally binding. That's where the famous "No brown M&M's in the green room" came from.
In the 70's Van Halen knew that they would be playing venues that might not be made to hold a rock band of their caliber, as well as all of the people. Old boards could buckle or old electrical outlets could short. They included this clause to make sure the promoter had read every single word of their rider. It was a warning sign. If they found brown m&m's, they immediately checked every single inch of the venue to make sure it was safe to perform and hold all of their fans. If it wasn't safe then they walked.
Because the promotors accepted their rider they can walk just for the m&m clause alone. The promotor breeched the contract and therefore the contract is void.
When you're just starting out as a band you probably don't want to walk (or even include a clause) because there are brown m&m's. But it is important to let the venue know what equipment you will be bringing and what equipment they will need to provide to have a successful show. Both you and the promotors want the show to be successful so you want to make sure everything on your end is covered.
A stage plot is an overhead view of the stage with all of the band's equipment set up and mic'd. This is useful so the stage manager and stage hands know what to expect and how to set it up before you arrive. This cuts out a lot of time in between bands and may even allow load in time to be closer to when doors open. You can literally draw this on a piece of paper and scan it in or take a picture with your phone. It should look something like this:
You can also label the microphones and should also include all monitors needed as well as DI (Direct In) boxes and where you need power. This will be the most useful thing to include for venues or promotors.
These first two things are the most important. Everything you have else is just gravy. This section could include literally anything and it can be a list as well. Here are some things you can include:
Merch table needs and location, green room specs including food or seating, soundcheck length, what you expect to be paid or other avenues of payment besides just your performance.
You will probably want to include that the venue and promotor cannot take a cut of your merch sales. Some venues are shady and hide things like that in their paperwork so make sure you read everything they give you. You can also include a clause that you don't need to sell a certain number of resale tickets to be paid. That is another shady thing a venue or promotor does to put the pressure on you to sell tickets. Of course you should promote your shows as best you can, you want the place to be packed, but the promotors are the only ones that should be taking the risk because they are the ones that also get the most reward. That's how this business works.
DON'T GET GREEDY
You should stand your ground and make sure you are paid what you deserve. But if you are relatively new to the scene then you don't have a ton of ground to stand on. You don't want to burn bridges with local promotors or make your technical rider so ridiculous that you become unobtainable. Remember the point of you forming a band is because you want to perform and have fun!