Busking is a great side hassle for musicians to earn some extra cash, to get used to real stage and real audience, to sharpen your skills and to train your strain capacity — you never know what your audience may react to your performance and what request they may make… Apart from all those pragmatic benefits, it is just fun to busk, especially during holiday times, whether be it piano, guitar, drum, harp or whatever! So if you are tempted and wanna try busking, the following are what you should prepare for and be aware of :
1. Get A Busking License
This is rule NO.1! Nobody wants to be shut down and threatened with a fine, so check out the local busking laws in your city, as the rules can vary from place to place. Some cities may not require permit to perform in street ( Such as Los Angeles), however, there may still be a noise ordinance, so it is important to do your research and make sure what you do is in compliance with local rules and laws, this could save you man headaches later.
2. Be Well Prepared
That include both physical material and non-physical material. If you perform with any instrument, make sure to tune it well and check all parts before play, treat it seriously like a real show, have spare strings ready just in case. If you’re going to perform the same 4 songs over and over again, the shop in front of which you perform is not going to be too pleased. The passers-by who you managed to hook are gonna leave and you’re going to bore yourself. Prepare an hour minimum (1.5hrs / 2 hours, even better!).
3. Use Signs Or Business Cards
If you are a musician and wish more people to listen to your music, it is important to take every chance to promote yourself and your work, and more professional you make yourself look, the more serious people will treat you. That being said, get yourself with a business card that have your personal website Facebook fan page, sportify channel, Youtube url, etc., it is also good idea to have a sign that encourages people to pay and interact with you. There’s no better way to connect with potential fans than busking, and with the right approach, this can translate to online growth too!
4. Always Dress The Part
After you’re noticed for your music, your appearance will be the next thing you’re judged on. When it comes to street performance, you want to keep people entertained – and part of that means dressing well. You shouldn’t look like you live in a cardboard box, but you also shouldn’t look like you just stepped out of your penthouse suite. Find a look that keeps you comfortable for several hours while engaging people without offending them. Basically, look cool.
5. Avoid Being Too Loud
A lot of buskers perform unamplified because it’s a drain to transport an amplifier (and it needs to work with batteries that you need to recharge every day too) and also because in some towns you’re not even allowed to amplify your instruments (to avoid complaints of neighbours, shops, etc.). However, performing unamplified means that you will strain your voice to make yourself heard (unless you’re an opera singer). You want to be heard but not disturbing, If someone tells you it’s too loud, turn the volume down.
6. Perform Actively
Don’t play looking down at your instrument, only raising your head when you hear a coin falling. Perform actively, that is: standing, dancing, or sitting if you need to but always looking at people. Acknowledge your listeners. Try to get them into your music with a smile. Don’t close your eyes all the time. Engage. If you’re shy, it’s the moment to fight against your natural inclination. People may or may not respond to your smile but it’s a first step towards the other. It will also allow you to judge your environment and see if anyone’s trying to steal away from you.
7. Make Money Collection As Easy As Possible
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at how many street performers make it difficult for people to offer up gratuity. Poor placement or a small-size collection box will make it difficult for people to see if you’re even asking for money. Make sure that your collection box is large and has prominent signage for your patrons to easily see it. The easier you make money collection for your audience, the more you can focus on your performance and forgot about money.
8. Don’t Get On People’s Nerves
If you’ve set up in front of a market or seating area, then cycling through the same three songs all day will make your captive audience want to defecate in your flight case. Learn a decent repertoire and don’t play it too loud (many councils state that a busker’s music shouldn’t be heard beyond a distance of fifty metres). Even if you have documentation, the police can move you on if they decide you’re causing a nuisance.
9. Be Friendly To Other Buskers
Especially in big cities, there might be well established buskers or busy areas where all the buskers converge cos they know they’ll make a lot of money. If your pitch is already taken, don’t hesitate to come and ask the busker in place how long he’s planning to stay and when you can come back. Otherwise go somewhere else. Always be friendly. The same chap might keep your spot for you when you come back and you should do the same for him if asked. You can even collaborate and share the revenues.
10. Grin And Bear It
You’ll get drunks, nutters, thieves, pensioners informing you that you suck and hoodies gobbing in your case. Take it all on the chin. If you get heckled, laugh it off. If you get robbed, don’t chase them. Dealing with borderline psychopaths is an invaluable lesson for anyone hoping for a career in music.