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your best busking opportunity ?

TristanCrusade 10 Jan 09 - 02:13 PM
Lox 10 Jan 09 - 02:46 PM
alanabit 10 Jan 09 - 02:54 PM
alanabit 10 Jan 09 - 02:56 PM
Leadfingers 10 Jan 09 - 03:01 PM
Artful Codger 10 Jan 09 - 04:23 PM
Betsy 10 Jan 09 - 08:08 PM
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Subject: your best busking opportunity ?
From: TristanCrusade
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 02:13 PM

Hi ! After reading many subjects about busking and because of life's issues, I decided to busk next summer! well, the more I read subects about busking, the more a feel freedom and it makes feel hopeful !

I read many things about buskers, and I'm impressed by how long some of you are on the streets !
I'm a little french guy who's dreaming a lot in that time,so busking means two things for me : freedom and maybe success.

In order to keep dreaming (sorry for my english, I'm not sure of it!), I'd like to know what was your main opportunity which came after busking for you : meet a professional, ask for auditions, ask for gigs in a good place...

Maybe i'm wrong to write this, I just want to .. dream !


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Subject: RE: your best busking opportunity ?
From: Lox
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 02:46 PM

Go and busk.

Its fun.

I would say this - don't put unnecessary pressure on yourself by thinking about what might come out of it - just enjoy yourself.

Don't be shy when you busk.

Put your hat/bag out in the street and yourself out there with it.

To make real money you need a crowd.

To get a crowd you have to work.

You won't get one if you hide in a doorway.

And you have to talk between songs.

Chat to the street as if you are having a conversation with your best friend and keep a smile on your face.

When people stop, engage them.

Tell jokes and make observations.

Have an arsenal of jokes about money.

These will ensure that people are thinking about giving you money wihout you having to embarass them or yourself by asking for it.

Invite people to gather round.

Forming a crowd is essential.

If you have a small crowd, people will wonder whats going on and will be more likely to pay attention and that means they will be more likely to contribute.

When you set up, once you have your instrument tuned and you are ready to start, greet your crowd loudly.

Start strumming the first chord of your first song on your guitar or whatever you play and announce:


Smile at an imaginary person standing nearby as if you are sharing a private joke that the crowd can be in on if they hang around and start singing.

Even if nobody pays you atttention, say thank you after each song.

If you act like a confident funny pro people will treat you like one.

Jokes about money ...

"If you liked that song you may feel free to contribute a small token of your appreciation - the standard amount is 1 euro ... if you are a tourist and unfamiliar with european money, this is a note with 20 in the corner."


"If you liked that song please feel free to contribute a small token of your appreciation - but please remember that it might blow away if you don't fold it."


"If you liked that song you may feel free to contribute a small token of your appreciation - children, if your pparents don't give you 1 euro or more it meanns that they don't love you .....

... don't worry - I'm only joking ...

... (aside to the imaginary crowdmember) it means they aren't your real parents!"

These jokes need to be made with a naughty smile but total confidence - this will come with practice.

etc etc etc etc

Once you have a crowd, you will be able to use you instincts to select people in the crowd to make eye contact with and engage with.

If you can flirt with them even better.

A compliment, delivered without sleaziness, but with that naughty smile will get you everywhere!

Street crowds have no sophistication. Don't bother with subtle jokes - go for obvious ones.

Organize your crowd to sing along with you.

of course some shows are different to others.

In amsterdam you will busk to cafes/terraces and you have a captive audience who do want to be entertained but don't want to be assaulted.

In Prague you busk on the bridge and play to crowds of 200 - 300 people who will sit on the floor and make themselves at home.

Again, experience is the key - as is being well and truly tuned in to your instinct.

If you happen to be approached by a pop star or a record producer, chance are that they just want to give themselves kudos by being seen hanging out with the busker. They may make suggestions that they have absolutely no genuine intention of following up on.

Remember that your pitch is your territory. You are the cool one and submit to noone else.

Above all ....... Have Fun!!!!!

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Subject: RE: your best busking opportunity ?
From: alanabit
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 02:54 PM

I am a bit down at the moment, because despite perfect conditions today, (sun shining and -6°Centigrade) I went out and delivered two of the most miserable, pathetic sets I am ashamed to recall. I earned virtually nothing, which was all I deserved. Let's hope you do not ever play that badly!
However, although the good days can be truly wonderful, remember that although you can make money and have fun through sheer luck from time to time, the only way you can do this consistently is by being really good. Nowadays you have to be a lot better to make money than I was when I started (some thirty years ago). You will only make money consistently if you look good, sound good and feel good. Whenever you see a successful busker with a big crowd, stick around and watch what they are doing, which you can learn from. I was lucky, I got to watch masters like Glynn Nicholas and his idol, Phil Free. (Paul MacNeill was not bad either).
Bad buskers (which is what I was today) do not make money. Nor do they deserve to. There are no excuses for not making money. It means you failed, point. Watch other buskers, get well prepared and read the other busking threads here. Good luck!

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Subject: RE: your best busking opportunity ?
From: alanabit
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 02:56 PM

By the way, everything Lox wrote makes sense.

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Subject: RE: your best busking opportunity ?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 03:01 PM

And check the local By Laws - Some places are very igid about street Entertanment - and some places ONLY allow Licenced Buskers !

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Subject: RE: your best busking opportunity ?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 04:23 PM

Since the topic was raised: How does one find out what the by-laws are in one's locale? Of course this will vary according to the country and municipality, but specific suggestions would save folks lots of time--possibly jail time.

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Subject: RE: your best busking opportunity ?
From: Betsy
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 08:08 PM

I have always steared away from giving advice about busking - but as a former Straat Musician here goes.
I enjoyed my times busking when I was young, stupid and full of confidence.
Busking is not a Folk club spot - it is a very limited timescale to catch someone's ear in order to get them to put some money in your bag - much less than one minute - because people are walking,talking and thinking about other things.
Times change, but familiarity does the trick.

Try these at the top of your voice ( especially in Europe ) and if you run out of words - make 'em up !!!

Oh Sinnerman where y'gonna run to,
My Bonnie lies over the ocean ,
What shall we do with a drunken sailor,
Wild Rover.

Don't be frightened to repeat the song without stopping - make 'em last as long as possible - once you get started - providing of course you don't have a standing /static audience.

Yes - they're all shite but they appeal to a wide cross section of people - trust me.

You can sing and play perfectly John Martins "May you never" or Oasis etc and no one will take a blind bit of notice - but give them a bit of shite which they recognise in their distant menory - and you'll do OK.
Ones which don't do OK - drop 'em - and relace with simple songs - sang with enthusiasm.
Essentially - smile - and thank as many people (between lines of verse) as you can.
Those were the days - Oh! - perhaps that's another.
Good Luck.

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