News article

What superstar divas can teach you about producing great content

With the UK now emerging from pandemic restrictions, gigs, live shows, and festivals are back in the calendar, and musicians, bands, and artists are getting ready to tour again.

That’s all well and good, but what’s that got to do with producing great client-focused content?

Asking detailed questions makes for better content and happier clients

Well, let’s start with a question: what do the following things all have in common?

  • Belly dancers
  • Pink toilet paper
  • Somebody dressed as the comedian Bob Hope
  • A fully inflatable animal over five feet tall
  • A barber’s chair
  • Brand-new, never-sat-upon toilet seats
  • A 12-foot boa constrictor

This list includes some of the wild and weird things requested by superstar musicians, bands, and artists when on tour (attributed to, respectively, Pharrell Williams, Maria Carey, Iggy Pop, Deadmau5, Kanye West, Madonna and Mötley Crüe).

These supplementary clauses in a performer’s contract are known as “riders” and can specify everything from the kind of food, drink, objects, upholstery, plants (or even people!) that must be in the dressing room when the star arrives.

Many megastars remain refreshingly down to earth – Adele’s rider, for example, is reported to include simple things like a kettle, bottled water, fresh fruit, chicken salad sandwiches and a bottle of good quality red – and even accompanying the crazy requests in the list above were plenty of perfectly reasonable things like vegetarian food options, clean towels, and soft drinks.

These artists work hard, spending many months on the road, and arriving at a dressing room to find a fully realised rider makes them feel comfortable, taken care of and so able to perform at 100%.

Likewise, these detailed and demanding riders show the importance of asking your clients probing questions about exactly what they want and need in their content. Listen to their goals and aspirations for their business, and consider all of their demands, however challenging they may first appear (although you may draw the line at boa constrictors).

The importance of brown M&Ms and reading the small print

One of the most legendary and misunderstood riders belonged to the rock band, Van Halen.

Hidden in the middle of their enormous contract rider was the following clause:

“There will be no brown M&Ms in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”

This was written off at the time as an example of rockstar excess and self-indulgence, but the truth was far more interesting. The lead singer, Dave Lee Roth, explained the real reason years later in his autobiography.

Van Halen had a huge stage show that consisted of nine 18-wheeler trucks, full of heavy gear, and there was plenty that could go wrong. There could be girders at the venue that couldn’t support the weight of the stage show, flooring that might collapse, or the doors might not be big enough to move the gear through.

As a result, their phonebook-sized contract contained pages of detailed technical and electrical instructions. They knew that if something went wrong, it could destroy not only the show, but might also be life-threatening to the band, roadies, stage crew and audience.

So, when Roth and the band walked backstage, they could look down at the bowl of M&Ms and if they saw any brown ones, they would immediately know that the venue production team hadn’t read the entire contract closely. Brown M&Ms were bad news; they meant that there could be other things the venue had missed, increasing the risk of bigger, more costly technical errors.

The same applies to editing and proofreading content for your clients. Here at Yardstick, all content is written, edited, and proofread multiple times by different people with unique expertise, so that the final product is typo- and error-free, giving your clients reassurance and peace of mind that we’ve been paying attention to both the little and the big things in the brief.

Treat your clients like superstars so they can focus on their performance

For many artists, being able to draw up a rider is a sign that they’ve finally made it. They no longer have to set up their own equipment, get dressed in a broom cupboard, and scoff a Tesco’s meal-deal before the show. Instead, they can just turn up, safe in the knowledge that they’ll be taken care of, so that they can focus on what they do best.

When your clients come to you for great content, whether that be for websites, newsletters or social media updates, they want to know they’re being taken care of, that their needs are being listened to, and that every detail, however small, is attended to.

If you need rockstar client-focused content – minus the dreaded brown M&Ms – please get in touch.

Email us at or call 0115 8965 300.

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