The first time I ever heard of a contract rider was back in the 1980’s, when I heard that in the tour contracts for rock band Van Halen, a clause stipulated that backstage, there needed to be a bowl of M&Ms with the brown ones picked out.
A little over-the-top? Perhaps.
Author Steve Jones, provides more insight into the reason for this clause, in a fascinating article from Entrepreneur Magazine entitled: “No Brown M&M’s: What Van Halen’s Insane Contract Clause Teaches Entrepreneurs.” If you are interested in checking out the article, please click on the article’s title.
As celebrities progress through their meteoric rise to stardom, I think it is fair that their expectations when touring or on location should indeed be commensurate with the financial rewards they bring to the table.
Some requests may be very practical if they need to travel with family members or an entourage of staff.
Other requests might seem less practical, maybe bordering on the frivolous, but that would be a matter of opinion. I am certain that some celebrities make such requests to create the environment that ensures that they are at their creative peak and completely in the zone.
Either way, I have sometimes dreamed and wondered what I would ask for in a contract rider, if I reached a certain level of success and that my services were required for location work, interviews or speaking engagements.
I guess that would depend on the job, the duration and the level of involvement I hold in the creative undertaking (i.e., are all eyes on me, or am I part of an ensemble?)
Even if a screenplay I produced required me to be on set, I don’t believe I am terribly high maintenance by any stretch of the imagination (OK… those of you who are laughing can stop now!)
But seriously, I have never been one who liked to be a bother to others, or to have people fussing over me.
Just the same, I can see the possibility of certain practical requests, to ensure my energy is focused on the creative undertaking and not on scavenging for the essentials of life.
If an overnight stay is required, a must would be comfortable, clean, quiet hotel accommodations. I wouldn’t want to be stuck staying with someone’s Aunt Mildred, sleeping on a pullout sofa between her 4 cats, 3 dogs and pet goat.
Something that I have asked for in previous hotel stays is a room away from the elevators (where people tend to congregate, day or night, and can get a little noisy) is also preferred. Quiet is something I truly appreciate when I need to be at my creative best.
To be fully functional and sharp, access to good quality coffee in the morning is an essential.
Access to gluten-free meals and snacks is an absolute must. I really don’t have a choice in the matter. Otherwise, I would be unable to fulfill my duties when experiencing the symptoms of a serious stomach flu and unable to leave my hotel room’s bathroom.
If I am staying more than a week, a kitchenette might be nice, as I have been known to get tired (not to mention bloated) from successive restaurant meals. Sometimes a simple (gluten-free) sandwich and veggies, or a salad with grilled chicken pieces is all I need to keep my tummy happy.
Also, having a stash of fresh fruit, cheese, yogurt and milk in the refrigerator would keep me on the straight and narrow with healthy eating habits.
If I was required to be on the set of a TV show or movie production for the purpose of fine-tuning a script, a quiet office and the proper equipment to be able to produce rewrites would be necessary.
If I ever had to work in Hollywood, there may need to be discussion about transportation, depending on the proximity of my accommodations to the studio and/or set(s), given what I have heard about the region’s sprawling highway network.
Would I ever consider more frivolous rider items? It’s hard to say. I may need help in thinking big. Either way, it likely wouldn’t have anything to do with M&Ms.
At the end of the day, what I would request in a rider would really depend on what I’d be doing on location, how long I’d be away, and how rested and how sharp I would need to be to fulfill my obligations.
The truth is, I am a homebody through and through. I enjoy the comforts of home as well as my routine which enable and optimize my creative process.
To me, travel has mostly been a welcomed diversion. But there have been times that business travel has been a source of stress and disruption. I think that a practical, well thought out contract rider would help bridge the gap between the two.
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Have a great day,