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how to backline rider

We got a hold of Nick Norris, the east coast backline king, and asked if he had any pointers on writing a backline rider that works.

When writing a backline rider,

try and include organized auxiliary information so the backline company understands your needs as best as possible.

Include a stage plot and an input list.

Make yourself easy to find by putting your name, number and email address on the first (or every) page of your rider.

Riders are often updated, so identify them with a version, like a date.

When you update your rider send it to your management and booking agents

you never know when they might be responsible to turn it in.

When you contact a backline provider make sure he/she has the current version of your rider. (seems obvious but it is a common oversight)

If you are clear with your needs, the backline provider will be able to better help you.


Endorsement gear←


If one (or more) of your players is endorsed, put it in the rider.

Do not expect a price break but expect the correct gear, especially for television.

It is great to list your Artist rep with a phone number and email address, but do not expect the backline provider to call them.

It is your player(s) and your responsibility to have the Artist rep get in contact with the backline provider if they will cover the rental cost or provide endorsee equipment.




While listing sizes give some placement hints; this allows the backline provider the ability to set up and test the drums with the correct hardware to ensure proper function.


10 & 12 mounted on kick; 14 & 16 floor toms with legs; 22 kick.


drummer is left handed; 13 tom on snare stand; 16 on legs; 24 kick.

Make sure to include drumhead preferences and specify if you want to have brand new heads (you’ll pay extra for the new ones).



Be clear on what you want. At this point, there are multiple versions of almost every keyboard- name the manufacturer, series and version.

Korg is a manufacturer.

Triton is a series of keyboards.

Triton pro (76 keys) describes a particular keyboard in that series.

Be clear on the kind of keyboard stand(s) you want.

Ultimate is a manufacturer

Apex is a kind of stand that Ultimate makes.

Be clear on placement of the keyboards.

lower and upper keyboard;

left hand or right hand;

facing off stage, down stage, on stage.

These directions help the backline provider properly test and also place your gear before you arrive.


Guitar and Bass←

Request what you need to rent and mention what you are bringing.


EBS head and two (2) 4×10 cabinets;

P-bass (as backup).

We are carrying a pedal board.

If you are using boutique gear, either have the manufacturer send the backline provider one or list a substitute.

It is always a good idea to include a secondary choice for your amplifier

many backline companies will send both and only charge for the primary choice.



Make a stage plot for the percussion gear and label the pieces.

If you need something specific list it.

do not just request a box of toys (hand held percussion).



Use a spell checker and properly identify your backline.

Group your gear by the player and mention their location on stage.

There are six quadrants on a stage

Upstage stage

left, center & right.

Downstage stage

left , center & right.

the next time you are throwing a new rider together keep these things in mind. the backline will be closer, at least a little, to what you are really looking for.