How To Make An Input List, Stage Plot and Tech Rider
The first post in our new Band Advice section was prompted by a Twitter conversation about frustration with bands that don’t give the beleagured sound guy (aka FOH or Front Of House engineer) and venue enough info to do their job properly. I’ve come across this when working FOH all too often – bands come in and just expect you to read their minds about how they’ll set up on stage, how many inputs they’ll need, if they’ll need direct boxes, cables or specific power requirements.
Want to know how to make load-in, setup and soundcheck go slowly, often resulting in little or no soundcheck due to time contraints? Give the sound guy/venue as little to work with as possible.
If, however, you want to make the sound guy love you, your show to sound awesome and everyone to be as stress free as possible, strap on your big boy/girl pants and read on as I’m going to tell you how to create and format a good stage plot and input list.
1. Some kind of drawing program (Photoshop, GraphicConverter, etc.) or someone with a decent hand at drawing – even a hand drawn and written stage plot and input list is better than none!
2. A complete list of inputs and monitoring requirements.
3. A list of all other requirements (power, cables, DI boxes, backline, etc) your band will need the venue to provide.
4. A text editing program (TextEdit, MS Word, Notepad, etc)
5. A CD or download/download code of your bands music.
6. Time – approximately 60-90 minutes
Stage Plot and Input List
A stage plot is a diagram showing how your band will be set up on stage, the relative positions and, ideally, the exact instrumentation, gear, etc. that you will be using. I usually use actual photos of the instruments and gear when possible – you can easily find most gear images by doing a Google search for them.
Open your drawing app and in the top half create a rectangular box that represents the stage – typically you’ll have the ‘front’ of the stage at the bottom and the back at the top. In this box drop in your instrument and gear images in their relative locations – or, if you’re drawing them, draw the appropriate image for the instrument and put the model/brand of the instrument/gear on each image to identify what it is.
Below that make a list of all the inputs and type that you’ll be using along with specific info about the type of input and if you have any special requirements – such as needing the venue to supply DI boxes, etc. You’ll duplicate some of this in the tech rider, as you can never ‘overshare’ what will be needed.
Additionally you MUST include contact info in case the venue has any questions. Put your contact info on EVERY piece of documentation you’ll be sending to the venue – it’s that important.
Once you’ve created the stage plot and input list, save the original so you can edit it later if things change about your stage setup, then save a copy both as a JPG and a PDF. You’ll want both as different venues have different requirements as to how they like to receive this kind of info.
Here’s an example stage plot and input list:
A technical rider (or tech rider) is a document describing your live show technical and other requirements. Things such as AC, cables, effects and signal processing, mic stands, etc. as well as any wishes/desires/needs as far as food, water, parking and such that you need/want to make the show a resounding success. This is where you should put questions to the venue that you will need to know so you can plan ahead – knowing where to park, how big the stage is, if there’s a green room, how long the set will be and so on. Remember – you can never be too prepared and, with all the unexpected things that can happen when playing live, the more you know the more likely you are to have a smooth load-in, setup, soundcheck and stress free show.
You’ll create your tech rider in your text editing app of choice – when finished, save it as a text, MS Word Document (if possible) and as a PDF, so you have one ready in the proper format to provide the venue.
Windows: Install CutePDF and, from the file menu of your text editing app, choose ‘Print’ then, from the ‘Printer Name’ drop-down box, choose ‘CutePDF Writer’ from the list. Click ‘OK’ and a window will pop up where you can name the file and choose the location to save it to.
Mac: From the File menu choose ‘Print’ then, from the new Print window, click on the ‘PDF’ button in the lower left and choose ‘Save As PDF’ – in the new window you can name your document and choose the location to save it to.
When titling your document make sure to put the band name and the type of document it is in the name – for example: ‘my_band_technical_rider’ so that, should you email it to someone, they can identify which band it’s for and what the document contains.
Here’s an example of a tech rider from the 2005 Artemis UK Tour:
Notice anything missing from the example tech rider? Yup – contact info! Again, learn from our mistakes and makes sure to put contact info on EVERY piece of documentation!
Timing is everything!
Now that you have all your documents ready, get them to the venue and/or sound person well in advance, ideally at least 2 weeks ahead of the show. Make sure you check with the venue to find out how they like to get this kind of info and whom you should be sending it to. After sending it follow up to make sure they got it, they understand everything and that they reply to your questions.
If you are doing a show where you’re the ones producing the show and hiring/recruiting the other bands, get all the other bands documentation and send it to the venue in one package, email, zip, etc. – that way the venue isn’t searching across multiple emails from different bands trying to find what they’re looking for.
One week before the show you should have everything in place, all your questions answered and everyone ‘on the same page’. If you don’t – follow up immediately. Murphy’s Law will dictate that, if you’re unprepared, things WILL go wrong.
Now go out there and ‘be pro’!