Busking and its brilliance.
Busking is defined as the art of performing music or any other similar art in a public place. Normally it is for money, however it is a very rare occasion that a busker will actually ask for money. Typically a busker will place down his or her instrument case in the hope that people will enjoy their music so much that they feel they should give something back. The art of busking is arguably as old as music itself and is a pure, enjoyable past time that all musicians should try.
From the moment a child learns a musical instrument they get excited when they play and want to perform to their family and friends. It is a natural feeling to want to perform to an audience when you learn to make music and i believe that this natural instinct to perform should definitely adhered to.
Have you ever been busking before?
I began busking when I was 18. I couldn't find a job and had a lot of time on my hands so I decided to grab my guitar and plucked up the courage to give it a go. At first I was very hesitant and it took some will power to perform but I quickly got into the swing of things and soon came to love it. I busked for almost a year, a few days a week, which enabled me to earn some pocket money for myself. I noticed that the more I done it the better I got, which made it very rewarding. When I eventually got a job and became more financially stable I would still go busking from time to time because it became a hobbie that I loved. Here are some things I have learned from my experiences.
Besides a bit of extra cash, there are many benefits to going busking, here are some reasons why I believe every musician or performer should go busking at some stage in their lives.
- It is a way to gain confidence with your playing. Performing on the street or in a city can be scary at first but with so many people walking past and not notice you can quickly feel like nobody is even paying attention and you will gain so much confidence with playing for an audience.
- Busking is a good way to practice your skill and perfect your art. Instead of practicing over and over at home, why not challenge yourself and take your practice to the streets. If you forget some lyrics or even miss a few notes nobody will notice and you can keep on playing and learn from your mistakes.
- You don't have to be very good to busk. Some people will still give you money even if your not playing. Sometimes its about looking the part rather than sounding the part.
- You can meet new friends and even join in with other musicians. Buskers are really friendly people and if you can play or sing a certain song people will join in and sing along or bring along their own instruments and ask to join you.
- Hearing a particular song can really make a persons day. Many times I have had people come to me and thank me for playing a song that has meaning to them. For example; a girl came up to me and said her brother was very ill in hospital and I had just played his favorite song (The fields of Athenry). It felt good to know I brought her comfort with my music.
- Busking is fun. When busking with friends it is good to play around with songs and get a reaction from your audience. People will come and clap along and talk to you and dance and it can really bring a place to life.
- You can make money. Although some people have and do make a living from busking I would be of the view that the extra cash is just a bonus for doing something you love.
- Busking can make you famous. There are many stories about people who used to busk, were spotted by a talent scout and made it big. Just think, this could be you!
The best time of year to go busking is at Christmas.
Christmas is the time of year where buskers rally to the streets to take advantage of the masses of people rushing around getting their shopping done for the holidays. Christmas is the time of giving and when people feel most generous.
Everyone has their own favorite Christmas carols and you really can't help but join along when you hear carolers fill the cold winter air with their beautiful chorus. During the dark nights there is always an amazing atmosphere with many people out singing whether for money or not. Buskers just add to the spirit of Christmas so why not grab a few eager friends this year and give busking a go? It could potentially pay for Christmas presents.
Do you enjoy the music?
What is your favorite kind of music to hear from buskers?
Some famous people who used to busk.
- Ed Sheeran
- Tracy Chapman
- B. B. King
- The Stereophonics
- Rod stewart
To name but a few.
Money making tips!
From my experience there are a few key things to note that can and will help you increase the money you can make while you are busking.
You must be good! It's as simple as that! Practice and perfect what you know and make sure that your music is up to a high enough standard so that it is very enjoyable for the audience.
Play popular songs.
Everything that is new and is on the television and radio are the songs that stick in peoples minds. Basically, If it's in the charts then play it.
Dress for the occasion.
There are two sides to this tip. The first is to dress like a professional. Your personal attire will determine to some people whether or not you are worth giving money to. People will throw you more change if you look the part. The other is to stand out from the crowd. Wear something that will grab peoples attention before they even hear you play. Once you have their attention, you have their generosity.
Choose your spot wisely.
Choose a spot to busk where there is plenty of people traffic. The more people that come through an area then the more potential for money. If you can accompany this with a place with good acoustics then you are on to a winner. The advantage of a place with good acoustics is that your voice will be carried further and for longer and so you expand your audience and give people a chance to give you a good listen.
Bring a friend.
I have found that having multiple instruments and harmonies in vocals really make an impact and can draw a crowd that will bring you in that well earned income. It might seem a flaw to have to split your earnings afterwards however, it can work out better for both of you, depending on your abilities
Put a swing on it.
Don't be afraid to change up a song and play it your own way People love to hear something done differently and doing this will will earn your audiences' respect and make you stand out bringing more money to you.
Busking is not begging.
A beggar will beg and ask for money
A real busker will never ask you for money
Begging is Illegal in most places
Busking is legal in most places, with some requiring a permit
Begging is frowned upon
Buskers create a positive atmosphere
Begging can be unsightly and rude
Playing good music can compliment a place
A buskers love story.
I thought I would add an example of how busking can open up more than one opportunity for success. I was teaching a friend of mine at work how to play guitar and we would practice on our lunch hour. Gradually he found the courage to try busking so he could show off his new found skill. We decided to venture in to Dublin city one Saturday afternoon and try a few different spots and every spot we tried we would always run in to the same girl who was doing charity work around the town. She really liked our playing and would chat with us whenever we saw her. Well, to cut a long story short they hooked up and have been together for four years now. All because of that one day of busking it changed my friends life forever.