Artists’ contracts for El Do Picnic have interesting requirements
Putting on a concert, especially in a small town like Stockton or El Dorado Springs, is not a simple endeavor. It takes more than just booking an act, having them show up and plug in their instruments and they sing some songs.
Welcome to the underworld of the entertainment industry, otherwise known as the contract rider. Some performers have become notorious for the demands they put into their riders. Heavy metal band Van Halen famously asked for a bowl of M&M’s in their dressing room with the brown ones removed. Rapper Eminem wants 25-pound dumbbells and six packages of Lunchables snacks, among other things. Madonna needs 20 international phone lines. And on and on it goes.
The two main artists scheduled to perform at this year’s El Dorado Springs Picnic have their own riders as well. To be sure, the riders for country stars Josh Gracin and Craig Wayne Boyd are not as outlandish as some of their fellow entertainers, but there are some requests city manager Bruce Rogers felt the picnic did not need to fulfill.
Copies of Gracin’s and Boyd’s contracts, and their riders, were obtained by the Republican and Rogers reviewed them recently with the newspaper.
“We call the different booking agencies and get the list of entertainers they have and what their prices are,” Rogers said. “If we’re lucky and we can find someone who has dates right around us, sometimes you can get them at a little cheaper price so you can fill that day so they’re not sitting idle.”
Rogers redlined several parts of the riders he believed the city could or should not provide and wrote in a few other things as well.
“You’ve got the basic contract and then you’ve got the technical rider,” Rogers said. “These contracts came from the same agency, so the contracts are pretty close to the same.
“Some of the things we scratch out are typically alcohol, anything requiring extra meals besides the one evening meal we provide around 6 p.m. They do appreciate having good food when they’re somewhere on the road all the time, so we have a caterer who provides the food.”
Josh Gracin’s contract calls for a 90-minute set with his band on Saturday, July 20, for which he will earn $10,000 from city funds. The first contract change occurs on page one, where Rogers wrote in, “The City retains final authority over sound volume as expressed in decibels. The City must retain 2% withholding from artist’s check as required by Missouri state law.”
So, not too loud, Josh, and call us back for the last $200.
Clause 16 was redlined. It reads, “In the event of any inconsistency between the provisions of this contract and the provisions of any riders, addenda, exhibits or any other attachments hereto, the parties agree the provisions most favorable to the artist shall control.”
By taking out the clause, Rogers essentially said, “Don’t blame the city if your contract does not make sense.”
Perhaps the most interesting redline came in the Dressing Room Requirements section. Since the concert takes place in the city park, there really is no location for a dressing room, let alone the requested bottle of Jack Daniels, bottle of Jager Meister, bottle of Fireball, case of bottled water, 12 cans of Red Bull and three pepperoni pizzas.
“These are generically written to apply to all kinds of venues,” Rogers said. “We’re an outdoor venue, so a lot of stuff we have to take out just because it doesn’t apply like dressing rooms and backstage passes and that kind of stuff.”
Rogers also inserted a change of venue in the event legal action is required. The original contract reads, “In the event of any default, dispute or breach of this agreement requiring court action, the parties hereto consent to venue in Davidson County, Tennessee, in any such action.” Rogers changed the location to Cedar County.
“Everybody always wants it in their state if you want to have any court proceedings, Tennessee usually,” Rogers said. “I always mark that out and write in Cedar County, Missouri. We don’t want to have to travel to take an artist to task for something, but we’ve never had any kind of legal proceedings involving anybody.”
Craig Wayne Boyd’s contract has several similarities to Gracin’s. Boyd will do a solo acoustic set Friday, July 19, for $3,232.
The big differences come in the technical rider, where a clause for two phone lines, a fax line and high-speed internet access was crossed out. A requirement for a drum riser also was deleted since it will not be needed.
Boyd’s dressing room, also redlined, called for fruit, veggie and meat trays, 3 cans of Rock Star Recovery orange drink, a 12-pack of Bud Light beer, a pot of coffee with low fat milk and “fake sugar,” coconut water, pizza and a bottle of Woodford Reserve.
According to Rogers, Gracin and Boyd’s catering requests are nothing compared to what country singer Chely Wright wanted for her $7,500 picnic appearance in 2005.
“That was one of the most detailed requests for stuff we’ve ever had,” Rogers said.
Wright’s rider, written by a different agency, had several grocery lists of items the promoter was supposed to provide for the dressing room, and for the bus at time of arrival, during the show and after the show.
Here is the bus list just for during the show: Two pounds of turkey, one pound of roast beef, one pound of ham, a half-pound of Provolone cheese and a half-pound of American cheese (purchased fresh from a local deli), a loaf of full-grain or multigrain whole wheat bread, a package of Kaiser sandwich rolls, assorted whole fruits and a small vegetable tray minus cauliflower and broccoli, mustard, mayonnaise, a box of large Ziploc bags for leftovers, a box of Grape Nuts cereal, a box of Raisin Bran, butter and jelly, a small jar of Skippy peanut butter, a quart of 2% milk, a pint of skim milk, a pint of half-and-half and two 20-pound bags of ice.
All of which was redlined by Rogers.
“Basically, they just wanted us to stock them up for a road trip,” Rogers said, reading between the lines. “They wanted us to provide rolls of tape, Duracell batteries and all kinds of stuff to stock them for the next two weeks, probably.”
Wright also wanted dinner on a regular plate, not Styrofoam, noting, “Traveling on the road, as much as we do, begins to feel like a perpetual camping trip when every meal of the day is eaten with Styrofoam plates and plastic flatware. Your consideration is this area is greatly appreciated.”
Remarkably, that part was not deleted. The parts that were — including a dinner request for “lean, grilled tuna, no grease or butter in preparation” — did not meet resistance from the artist.
“We crossed everything out and sent it into them and they signed it,” Rogers said. “They’re used to asking for everything and when they go to like a big venue like Madison Square Garden they probably get most of this, but little places like [El Dorado Springs], they don’t.”