BUSKING: “The activity of playing music in the street or another public place for voluntary donations”
Great Practice & Exposure to New Crowd
Sometimes, musicians must accept that there are no venues hiring as seems to be the case currently with COVID restrictions and concerns. In order to keep up on one’s chops and set list, the age-old practice of taking to the streets might be an option worthy of consideration. Obviously, a city location is best although rural downtown locations (on a town Green) where people walk and gather are also good choices for busking.
The upside of this approach is that many people will hear you for the first time and will often tip if you put a tip jar out in prominent view. Sometimes, other musicians will happen by with their guitars, harmonicas, percussion toys, and other “portable” acoustic instruments and sit in with you, upping your “game” in an unexpected but usually pleasant way. This writer has often booked private gigs from street performances, and those tend to be pretty good paying jobs.
Prepare for Weather Exposure & Basic Comfort
Of course, the downside is that you are subject to weather and would be wise to dress and plan accordingly. Additionally, there is always the possibility of being “asked” not to play by officials which can also result in a fine for not having obtained a permit to do so (never happened to me but I’ve heard stories). Then there’s the challenge of “nature calling” – best not to eat and drink much before or during busking unless you have scoped out a place to “do your business.” Last – there is no guarantee that passersby will be in the mood to tip so keep your expectations in check.
If You’re Brave Enough, You Can Learn…
Having said all this, busking is yet another approach to sharing and honing your act and is highly encouraged for those brave enough to give it a try or two.
“Years of busking had taught him how to hold a crowd”