The Smoking Gun's "Backstage Pass" archive reprints or excerpts more than 250 riders from a wide variety of touring acts, both classic and contemporary. From Van Halen’s infamous 1982 demand that all brown M&Ms be picked out of their candy bowl, to Jennifer Lopez’s request for expensive French candles in her dressing room at a recent charity event, to megawatt pop star Lady Gaga’s surprisingly polite and low-key catering preferences, the contracts can tell you a lot more about your favorite recording artists than just their beverages of choice (though for what it's worth, rap mogul Jay-Z requests more than $1,000 worth of alcohol in his dressing room at every concert).
So would a venue's failure to provide Keith Richards with his $45 "medium white Casablanca lilly arrangement with weeping eucalyptus" result in the last-minute cancellation of a Rolling Stones gig? The hypothetical might make interesting law school exam fodder, but in reality concert promoters simply strike out unfeasible, unreasonable, or impossible provisions (see a marked-up example for The Bloodhound Gang, rejecting their admittedly non-serious request for "one small rhesus monkey skeleton" and other demands). Many artists claim that the more outrageous demands are simply a test, to ensure that the more serious sound, lighting, security and other technical concerns had also been carefully read and handled. Others take a more light-hearted approach to handling the mundane details, such as Iggy Pop’s hilarious send-up of typical rock star riders.
While backstage riders are essentially contracts, you’re more likely to find information and analysis on them in entertainment law publications. If the representation of recording artists sounds like the legal career path for you, take a look at some treatises and handbooks in the library and online.
- In the Duke Libraries Catalog, try a subject search for “Artists’ Contracts—United States” and “Entertainers—Legal status, laws, etc.—United States” to locate titles like Biederman’s Law and Business of the Entertainment Industries.
- On LexisNexis, follow the path: Legal > Area of Law - By Topic > Entertainment Law > Search Analysis, Law Reviews & Journals to locate practice guides like Entertainment Industry Contracts.
- Westlaw’s Topical Practice Area for Art, Entertainment & Sports Law provides treatises and handbooks like Lindey on Entertainment, Publishing and the Arts, 3d (LINDEY3D).
- As always, for help researching this or any other topic, Ask a Librarian.