Do you ever wonder how the world’s biggest DJs can just walk onstage, plug their USB sticks / laptop in, and get going? Or how they manage to travel from city to city every night without having to worry about transportation details? That’s because professional touring DJs have what’s called a technical rider.
A technical rider has all the equipment requirements and layout specifics that a DJ needs in order to perform. It mentions gear requirements (eg two CDJ-2000NXS2 players and a DJM-900NXS2 mixer, two pairs of booth monitors) and how the gear is supposed to be arranged in the DJ booth. That way, DJs don’t need to bring their own gear, and their set-up becomes consistent at every show.
The DJ gives the technical rider to the promoter, and it’s the promoter’s job to make sure that all the requirements are met.
Often, a technical rider will also come with requirements for food, lodging, and transportation – this is called the “hospitality” portion of the rider. Let’s say you’re a vegan DJ who prefers to travel green and wants to sleep in an Airbnb instead of a hotel – you place those specifics here.
Do I need a rider?
Though you can just send out a text or e-mail to the organiser (eg “I need CDJs. And Jaeger. See you bro.”), creating a very simple technical rider that describes your set-up can make things smoother for club promoters and event organisers, and gives you a more professional image even if you aren’t a six-figure DJ living it up at the Four Seasons.
The way you do it is you first specify the gear you’ll be using to DJ, such as your laptop and a CDJ/DJM set. If you’re bringing a DJ controller, specify any cables you need to connect to their mixer as well as their power receptacle.
You can take this a step further by laying out your DJ gear on a table and snapping a photo of it to include in the rider, which will give the organiser an idea of what your set-up looks like. You probably won’t have to do this if you’re going the CDJ/DJM route, but if you want to you can download photos online of that set-up for inclusion in your rider.
Once you’ve got those down, you then fill out the hospitality portion. Just have the absolute necessities in writing (eg dietary restrictions, a place where you can freshen up before and after the gig, and so on). Of course, if your gig is two blocks away from your house, you probably won’t need to demand anything, so keep this portion for out of town shows and the like.
My technical rider
Here’s what my technical rider looks like. This is the same one I use whether I’m DJing a wedding, a corporate event, or an out of town show. If it’s a festival, my technical rider lets organisers know that I’ll be bringing my own controller. As a result, they allot space for me in the DJ booth beside the usual CDJ/DJM set-up:
A technical rider is important because it lets the organiser know ahead of time that you’ll need to perform at your best. It’s doubly important if you’re bringing your own gear and need to hook up to their system and, possibly, remove some of their gear from the booth.
You’ll also get a heads up whether or not you’re allowed to remove gear or even bring a controller, letting you make adjustments as necessary ahead of the gig instead of during.
Do you have a technical rider? If so, what does yours look like? Any gig horror stories where you’ve turned up only to find out that the gear in the DJ booth isn’t compatible with your set-up? Let us know below.