HomeUncategorizedWhy Are We So Obsessed with Musicians' Riders?

Why Are We So Obsessed with Musicians’ Riders?

There’s never a shortage of discourse. Not in politics, not in sports, and certainly not in online music circles. When it comes to the latter, on any given day, there’s a topic du jour, be it some asshole (Ben Shapiro) rapping with some other asshole (Tom MacDonald) or a hardcore band kicking out a member for secretly feeding their bassist estrogen. Though, one point of interest seems to pop up on a strangely regular basis: riders. Just yesterday (March 12th), a blurry picture of Pavement’s 1999 rider once again sparked thread upon thread dissecting the merit of musicians asking venues for snacks and a case of beer — leading many to ask, are we really doing this again? Why are we so obsessed with musicians’ riders?

For the unfamiliar, a rider is a list of hospitality requests made on behalf of a touring artist. They’re sent to promoters and venues who, in turn, might fulfill all, some, or none of the asks. (Think Van Halen requesting no brown M&Ms backstage.) More often than not, these are not contractual obligations, though, of course, the more famous the artist, the more pressure they can apply to ensure the green room will have exclusively colorful M&Ms.

Pavement might be the latest band to go viral for their rider, but they’re not the first to get caught up in social media crossfire. Jack White’s inclusion of a homemade guacamole recipe on his rider elicited plenty of digital chuckles, and an unknown DIY group was put on blast for merely having a rider when, according to the original poster, they might have struggled to sell tickets.

But why do these posts garner such engagement? Riders are extremely commonplace when it comes to live events; both pop stars and indie bands alike have their own. So, why is a practice that nearly every band in your Spotify library engages in so darn interesting?

Well, for one, it’s the a great opportunity to dunk on strangers — and dunking on strangers is the internet’s bread and butter. Quips and witty comments are catnip for posters, and the idea of some entitled, famous, rich artist asking for a handout or a low-level indie band acting like hotshots is fertile ground for a flaming hot takes.

And, like, sure, whatever. Internet callouts are nothing new, and they’re not even necessarily always unwarranted. But in the specific case of the rider, there’s certain undertones that pervade the criticism. Behind laughing at [REDACTED]’s request for six hot vegan meals, there’s the implication that touring musicians should be roughing it, sleeping in vans and scraping by on nothing more than the strength of their will until they hit the big time.

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