Busking - A beginner’s guide

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by Malurkey, May 10, 2021.

  1. Malurkey

    Malurkey Senior Stratmaster

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    I don’t have any plans for a drastic career change, and I am far too insecure about my guitar playing abilities to ever do this out in the open, but whenever I see folks busking on the street I wonder:

    Is it really as easy as finding a nice corner, drop a few coins in your guitar case to inform folks of the general idea and start playing?

    For instance, do you need a license? Or approval from the local guild of street musicians? Are there written or unwritten rules about where and when (for instance, not to close to other buskers)? Do buskers each have their own turf? How do you select a good spot? How long does your set list need to be? Are there minimum requirements on skills or equipment? How much can you expect to make, and how does this depend on weather and other circumstances? Does it pay to form a duo/trio/more? Does amplification increase revenue?

    Also, if you have any busking war stories, please feel free to share.
     
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  2. Mouse

    Mouse The Knees of Rock

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    I’m interested in these answers as well. As to the “How long does your set list need to be” question. I’d say it depends. I always chuckle to myself when I see people busking on the NYC subway platforms as theoretically you could do it with only 2-3 songs. Particularly during rush hour, most trains will come before you finish a song or two. Every song or two you’re playing to a new audience.
     
  3. Malurkey

    Malurkey Senior Stratmaster

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    Yeah, even I could fill that! ;) :whistling:
     
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  4. bigtuna

    bigtuna Strat-Talk Member

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    I think how long your set last depends on if your after groceries or the house payment...
     
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  5. s5tuart

    s5tuart Perfecting time travel since 2525

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    I think you might need to seek permission the same as here in the UK.
    Or you could just learn to pack up quick and sprint away any time anyone official appears!
    5 songs/tunes should be enough to start out because folks are always going elsewhere but adding one or two a week would keep you and your audience fresh.

     
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  6. perttime

    perttime Strat-O-Master

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    Regulations vary. You need to find out what applies in your town.

    For example: my town does not require a license but you are not supposed to use amplification.

    There could be Musicians' Performance Rights Organization or Copyright Collective in your country/state/area that requires some sort of payment for playing covers, etc.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Performance_rights_organisation
     
  7. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

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    .

    Check with the city you plan to busk in. Some won't have any rules but others need you inform them and maybe pay a fee for a license as you hear their rules on where and when.









    Anticipate your gear hauling


    .
     
  8. Heavyriff

    Heavyriff Senior Stratmaster

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  9. gjohnson441496

    gjohnson441496 Senior Stratmaster

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    I've been busking on and off the last 3 years. I never asked questions I just started doing it.
    First I determine where I want to busk, then I look for electrical outlets. Usually I'll start around lunch time to catch the lunch crowd. Set up and play. I have a 2 hour set list. I play it and leave. I consider it outdoor practice and the feedback is encouraging.

    Just do it.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
  10. rocknrollrich

    rocknrollrich Most Honored Senior Member

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    In "my" city, I would be terrified to do it.
    15 people were shot (just yesterday), and that's....eh.... about average.
     
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  11. bbarott

    bbarott Most Honored Senior Member

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    Yeah, the 'city of brotherly love' indeed. Never did it (busking), thinking it might be interesting to have maybe one or two other folks/acts with ya. This way you always have a couple folks around you and this by itself will help draw others. One hat, divvy it up evenly. And maybe some free stickers or other bling to help promote an upcoming show.
     
  12. FireFunkRevival

    FireFunkRevival Strat-Talker

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    I moved to Colorado when I was 21... packed up what I could in my Volkswagen Jetta and drove out there with nothing. I found a few places to stay for a while with people I met. Slept in cars and sold my personal belongings for cash until I could find a job. Found a job at guitar center (very cool place to work) and also played on the streets at night. I was very up on a lot of covers at the time and I thankfully have a very good ear that I was able to ask people what they liked and usually deliver something close if not what they asked. Yes it's that easy. I could make way more money than at guitar center in 2 to 3 hours of playing on a busy street corner. When I was in summit County, we would go to veil for the farmers market on Sundays and my friend would make about 5 to 6 hundred a day driving kids around on a small train. I would play there on the street however the big money places never seemed to increase my wages playing. Veil kind of had that feel though as if the people there couldn't be bothered by someone trying to play them some music. Probably due to a high number of tourists I'm assuming. Beautiful places though and I'm glad I could experience the things that I did.
     
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  13. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster

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    Have done some research on the subject in my area and it seems that there are conflicting ordinances and interests at work that make it a difficult proposition.
     
  14. rocknrollrich

    rocknrollrich Most Honored Senior Member

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    I like the idea of it, but like I said, in philly, I'm not that brave.
    In a perfect world (or even a slightly better world), I would love to sit outside and perform. But the reality of it (the hassles and safety issues) is not worth it to me.
     
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  15. bigtuna

    bigtuna Strat-Talk Member

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    That just means your living in the wrong city, you gotta move...
     
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  16. Blue Beagle

    Blue Beagle Senior Stratmaster

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    Just turn up and play where you want.

    If you get moved along by a jobsworth Police officer or council worker then so what?

    If you want to do it again you then know where you stand!
     
  17. nuculer terrist

    nuculer terrist Senior Stratmaster

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    Philly, huh?
    Hack out a few songs/instrumentals from the rocky movies and busk near the rocky statue.
     
  18. s5tuart

    s5tuart Perfecting time travel since 2525

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    Spoon lady is hot!!
     
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  19. ukoldgit

    ukoldgit Most Honored Senior Member

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    Play one of these
    [​IMG]

    And make sure you leave your guitar case open
    [​IMG]
     
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  20. thomquietwolf

    thomquietwolf Dr. Stratster Silver Member

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    @Mouse
    Has the bottom line
    And then
    And
    Plus
    A few bars of improv twixt
    There are numerous people that work the patio
    In
    Front of Briar Patch Coop
    Grass Valley/Nevada city
    Some good
    Some just bold