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Street Preforming?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by balton4, Jun 29, 2012.

  1. So, as a broke teenager, i need cash. We have a festival in my small, Minnesota town next week, and i was thinking about trying my hand at street preforming. I was wondering, do i need a license? If so, where do i get one, and how much does it cost? Is preforming in the streets generally accepted? What should i use as a tip jar? Please don't say your guitar case, because all i have is a gig bag, if it was a hard shell, sure! But, alas, it is a gig bag. Well, any advice is appreciated.
  2. Uhmm. You need a license for busking, not sure about actual shows though.
    If you fully opened your gigbag, does it have a slight lip on it? You need something that people can throw money into without it coming out.
  3. To "preform" a street requires heavy equipment.

    To perform on that street is much easier.

    FIRST: check with the city to see if any license is required.

    THEN: sure, if you are OK to perform and ready to do so, set out a tip jar. Don't use a tip jar that looks like you fished it out of a dumpster. Make it look decent, with a nice sign on it.
  4. check your local laws ... Mine are different than yours.

    Some places require a license

    usually you can't blatantly ask for tips ... This is a grey area for buskers
  5. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Busking is begging. It cheapens music.

    But if you're going to do it, check with your town about busking licenses. Some places you need it (police states), others you don't.
  6. Some great artists have been discovered while busking. I completely disagree with the "fact" that it cheapens music. Ever been to Seattle, Washington? Pikes Place market is full of buskers that absolutely loved interacting with the crowd. The crowd loved the buskers. They provided a very entertaining atmosphere while my school's band was walking around, looking at the vendors. Just my opinion in a sea of others though :smug:
  7. Corbeau


    Dec 14, 2011
    I don't think busking cheapens music or is begging. I think begging is when you hold out your hand and hope someone drops spare change. When you're busking, you're actively giving out music for people to hear - i.e. you're doing something for someone's change. I actually think busking gives people experience playing live, so I think it's a good thing to do.

    To the OP - you will have to check with the city to see if you need a licence. Some places do, some places don't, so it varies. You can use whatever you want as a tip jar. A hat is alright, or you can get creative and use something like a jar or a novelty item to attract attention.

    Performing on the street is accepted, but don't expect to make a lot of money out of it. Occasionally a busker can live off their earnings from the street, but usually you can expect something like enough money to buy yourself lunch. Just view it as a bit of fun and a learning experience on how to operate live.
  8. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    It's just having fun really, don't expect much. You'll probably end up playing slap because it's the only damn thing that impresses people without spending years to learn how to shred fingerstyle on bass :rollno:

    How are you going to get power for your amp?
  9. bigfatbass

    bigfatbass Banned

    Jun 30, 2003
    Upstate NY
    Endorsing Artist: Karl Hoyt Basses
    Why is it the voices of inexperience are always the first to chime in on this board?

    I have busked in a lot of places while on the road. Sometimes legally, sometimes not so much. Every time we made $100-200 or more in the jar by the end of the night/afternoon/whatever. Been busted more than once, but never fined. Just told to move on, etc. If someone hassles you, be polite and respectful and plead ignorance. Lots of ignorance.

    You'll want to call your county courthouse to find out if a license is required where you live, that number should be easy to find.

    Some places that allow busking have strict noise level rules. Just something else to be aware of.

    The first rule of street performing is simple: have something worth paying attention to.

    If you aren't sure you meet that criteria, you might not. Be honest with yourself. Can you entertain a random group of strangers enough to make them stop walking and listen to you? You'll need to be able to accomplish this feat for at least 20-30 minutes at a stretch if you want tips. You have to show confidence and the ability to engage if you want folks to reach in their pockets.

    A tip jar can be anything deep enough for paper money not to fly out of on a windy day. Ours is a big ass coffee can painted like a hoop with a plywood "backboard" screwed to it. Always seed it with a nice pile of quarters, and some $1s and $5s. If it is touristy, throw a $20. You always want to appear like people are already digging you enough to throw money.

    Signage is also key. Just a little neat (but not too neat) handwritten sign on the jar. We've had good luck with "The 6 Million Dollar Can", and "Parents ditched us, need money to get home (drunk)", or our current favorite: "Show Us Your Tips!". That one gets great double-takes/giggles when we throw it out at brunch gigs. Since you're a teenager, don't use the (drunk) one, lol.

    Don't let the poopoo-ers above deter you. I've had some great fun, and very lucrative days, playing some random busy shopping area for a few hours.
  10. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    This is completely false. I am vacationing in San Francisco this week and I have seen at least a dozen buskers who are probably better musicians and entertainers than you are.
  11. SF has really great buskers. Every time i'm in the city I see so many, get down to the Haight and that's where you find some of the best musicians you'll ever hear, very creative too (one man band stuff).

    On another note, I personally think it takes big balls just to get out there and do it. Whether you need the cash or not. One time I was in line for a show in the parking lot behind a hotel and a guy was out there soloing on a drum kit with a sign saying he was looking for a band. I was about 18 at the time and all the people my age were scoffing and laughing and walking past. I threw the guy some change and gave him a thumbs up because that was brave as hell to do. None of those people in line, nor myself, woulda had the spheres to do that.

    Find out what your laws are and go for it.
  12. XtheDeadPawn


    May 24, 2008
    Best busking band I found
    You Bred Raptors?

    NYC's best buskers
    Search Youtube take notes.
  13. haha, i probably should have included the fact that i play the electric and acoustic guitar too. Acoustic is what i would take out, but i have many places that would let me plug in a small amp for my bass if i wanted to. I plan on going to the city hall soon and figure out all the laws around here regarding busking. Next, i need a pickle jar and some paint :p
  14. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    In an era of rampant piracy, sharing, downloading & everybody who owns a computer churning out dreck by the disc-load, how can busking possibly cheapen music?

    OP: As others noted, your town may (or may not) have a busking ordinance. Go to the town hall & ask at the municipal clerk's office. They'll know everything there.

    It may be very different with a town festival going on. Normal rules may not apply. I also live in a small MN town, & when there are festivals here the sponsoring organization (Chamber, Lions, etc.) basically "rents" the downtown streets & sidewalks, which means that anybody who wants to operate a concession has to go through them.
  15. how? Isn't the whole point of playing music to go out and share it with people?

    So you're not playing MSG for 30,000 screaming fans. So what? Maybe you meet some cool new people who genuinely enjoy your tunes.

    I just got back from OCMD this evening, and every night the boardwalk was littered with street performers. I actually took the time to hang out with a few and get their stories. It was a great time.

    I had my acoustic guitar with me, just couldn't convince myself to hang out in that heat!! Next time.
  16. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    To some the point of playing music is to earn money and many of them are of the opinion that when we play for free it makes it harder for them to get paid. There may be some truth to that in some places, such as in Austin, where I live.

    That said, I make my living in other endeavors and I frequently play for beer and tips. I sympathize but not enough to turn down an opportunity to play.
  17. XtheDeadPawn


    May 24, 2008
    I play for free all the time. The times I do get paid it really just goes to a Slurpee and a chip in for gas.

    I play music in a band and we all just do it for the love of it.
    We have a few regulars who are at almost all of our gigs and honestly their the only reason we keep giging. We aren't making anything if anything we're losing money. :)
    And I wouldn't have it any other way.

    To the OP do it for the love of it. It's rare to ever make money at what you trully love without eventually ending up hating it. Seen it heard it hope to God I never witness it.
  18. Haha, were all broke muscians here! I made 30 bucks last year doing this, but i didnt know if there was laws revolving around it. Not to mention my capo was jsut stolen, need to make 20 bucks for another one. Ill go and ask tomorrow at city hall.:)
  19. Don't forget to throw a few bucks into whatever you're using for a tip jar when you start! I've played guitar on the street a few times just for funsies. It takes a lot longer for the change start coming in if people don't know where to put it.
  20. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    How is it possible to "cheapen" music? The very thought. :rolleyes:

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