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Going Green: Artist Tour Riders Should Become More Environmentally Friendly

We need to make the green room a little greener.
Panorama Festival 2017

Artist riders. They are one of the best and worst kept secrets in the business. Every once and a while, a star’s rider will get leaked to the public and people will get outraged they will demand so much from the venue. However, this is needed for large teams with potentially dancers, singers or bands to feel some semblance of comfort or normality when traveling all-year. These tour riders are designed to make the artist feel comfortable and they should continue to do so, but as many musicians start to care about their environmental footprint between travel and daily lives, there should be other ways to reduce waste. That can be in their riders.

There are ways to make a rider incrementally more environmentally more conscious. It is one thing to go vegan and not have any meat on your rider, but for those who are still carnivores, once can eat more chicken or turkey on the road, as opposed to red meat. Instruct the venue to do their best to buy recyclable plastics and as many compostable containers as possible. Tell them to have recycling containers in the green room and make a point to mark them as such. Some of them only have trashcans, which is pretty disheartening.

Food and drink are critical to a green room. Alcohol is what the AA vultures kill off first, but for those who don’t have their green rooms swarmed, food and drink need to be there for snacking and keeping the artists energy levels up. Maybe it will be their first meal in some time after traveling. However, if an artist knows there is no chance they will ever eat all of the food on their rider, then cut back on some of it. Or if there are some dates where the timing will be really tight, then cut back even more since there won’t be time to eat XXL fruit platter, sandwich tray and 40 bags of candy. If the boyfriend of some agent’s friend doesn’t have a snack that night, so be it. Also instruct the venue to give away any unused food that can be donated to a food pantry at the end of the night / morning.

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Often a hard touring artist, notably DJs, will ask for some clothes or towels to use. They will want them to be freshly bought. That makes sense if there is no time to do laundry or buy new underwear, black-t-shirts or socks. However buying 12 packs of underwear that is way above the demand of you and your team is wasteful. Think about what you need for the night to get to the next stop and then if you are discarding your clothes, instruct the next venue to give away your non-underwear and socks to Salvation Army.

Silly gags are fun like bobble heads or life-sized posters of The Rock, but putting them in at every stop may not be necessary. If you plan our your schedule and know there won’t be any time before or after a set, ignore the things used to kill time. Yes green rooms can be really boring, especially in cities where you don’t have many friends or you are early and have to wait for your set, but going over the top with disposable gags that look fun on a tour recap because #content and #engagement should be mitigated some.

Having a large list of demands is easier when you are a bigger artist. They are the ones who can push for wholesale change in industry attitudes for other artists and at venues from the stadiums to the small clubs. This will make it easier for the small cover band to ask for things to be more eco-friendly when they show up for a Wednesday night at a 50 capacity venue in January. Because tour riders are so closely held to the vest in the business, accountability will be hard, but the industry itself should do more to police itself on this. 

No one really knows why it is called the "green room," but at least we can make our actions a little greener while we are there.

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