Busking or Street Performing

Wikipedia states ‘Street performance or busking is the act of performing in public places for gratuities. In many countries the rewards are generally in the form of money but other gratuities such as food, drink or gifts may be given’.

Street Performers or Buskers as I prefer to call them come in many forms, musicians, jugglers, mimers, singers, living statue, acrobatics, balloon twisting, clowning, caricatures, puppeteering, prose, street art, sword swallowing, ventriloquism, flea circus, to name a few.. And they can be of any age, be male, female or other and work together or alone.

One thing to consider before you begin your act is whether or not you need a licence to busk. If so, it is usually obtainable from the local council or town hall. Without the legal approval you will need to keep your eye out for the authorities. You may get off with a warning the first time but the second time round you may not be so lucky.

Many countries have embraced buskers and in some places it has a highly organised business. For instance, in Melbourne, Australia they have a ‘Street Performers’ Policy’ which you can download at their website www.melbourne.vic.gov.au. You will also need to apply for a permit to busk in this city.

Melbourne is not alone, most cities have a policy and require you to apply for a permit. Bern in Switzerland is another such city and has drawn up regulations that buskers must abide by. In fact, Bern has embraced street performers so much that every August they have a buskers festival. For more information to perform at this event visit www.buskersbern.ch.

Selecting your venue to make ‘loads of cash’ is crucial. Some authorities may advise you specific places you can busk but if they don’t you need your chosen spot to be accessible to the crowd with enough room for them to assemble. You need to find a place that does not block the thoroughfare or traffic. Some authorities may also be specific on the times you can perform.

A big ‘no-no’ is infringing on another busker’s turf so if you are new to the area, you may want to speak to other buskers first as many buskers share the same turf by allocating time slots.

Popular places to perform include shopping malls, public transport stations, outside or near tourist attractions or at major festivals and events.

Profitable times can be during the morning, lunchtime and evening rushes. Sundays are a good day with many people out and about and some buskers have told me that Sunday is their most profitable day.

Don’t forget your hat to pass around!

2 thoughts on “Busking or Street Performing

  • December 31, 2017 at 6:33 am

    I didn’t think of using my music skills learnt as a child to busk. I think I will be taking my old guitar on my travels now.

    • January 20, 2018 at 4:34 am

      Yes Jeff, many people use skills they didn’t realise they had to make money when travelling. Busking is one of them. A friend of mine and I tried singing once outside a tube station in London – unfortunately we didn’t make much money, but at least we gave it a go. I hope your music is more successful than my singing!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *