The best things in life are free . . .
Oh yeah it’s great to enjoy yourself without spending a dollar. Some people tell me their favourite thing is to watch buskers because it cost nothing.
So I tell them that I hope they at least applaud the performers they so much enjoy watching without having to put a coin in the hat. All buskers need a show of appreciation if they are to remain keen to continue. But busking is like fishing . . . sometimes you take something home and sometimes you don’t.
A coin or note dropped into a hat with an exchanged smile along with gestures and words of appreciation is the positive reinforcement we buskers require. A nod or word of thanks from the busker completes the transaction. However . . . there are lots of ways to improve your chance to make money and receive positive feed back. It does well to start busking with the understanding that to busk regularly and . . . more importantly to busk for a living . . . depends on how you join with the busking community. New buskers are joining an age old fraternity and often have little idea of street ettiquete and acoustic environment.
Recently I have met buskers using amplification who seem to consider their volume as their best asset. Most places using a permit system have guidelines that allow and encourage buskers to use public space for their performance. There is plenty of competition for the best well trafficked spots and if a number of buskers are operating in a close environment . . . the loudest usually drives other acts to extinction.
BUT the public are the fish the busker is out to catch and loud is usually not good bait. Just like anglers sharing a jetty or boardwalk who sometimes get their lines tangled . . . buskers can get be too close together to allow either performer a fair go at sounding good. Fishing ettiquette dictates that the first with a bait in the water has got the spot and woe betide the angler who drops a line on top of him or her.
So it should be with busking.
BUSKERS NEED TO BE AWARE:
LOUD SCARES DOGS
LOUD ANNOYS BUSINESS OWNERS
LOUD CAN BRING DISREPUTE TO BUSKING GENERALLY
Volume of amplification and volume of percussion should be used with an awareness of acoustic environments. A small battery powered amplifier of 5 – 15 watts will give good results when used facing out to the street rather than directing toward walls and shop windows. A larger amplifier of 30 or more watts and drum kits can be used in larger open spaces effectively and are overkill when operated in close proximity to buildings especially without consideration to other nearby buskers.
WHERE TO PLACE YOUR HAT OR WHATEVER YOU USE TO COLLECT DONATIONS
The choice of where to put your hat . . . or instrument case etc. is almost as critical as where to actually set up . . . and the two issues are co related. There are many scenarios and variables at play in knowing how to set your hat. Be aware that impeding public thoroughfare is not good practice. This means if you select a narrow but busy footpath . . . don’t put yer collection bowl where someone will easily trip on it.
The concept of spacial use for busking is one the greatest secrets of successful buskers . . . where possible choose a location for the public to sit and become your audience.
In hot climates . . . seek comfort by choosing somewhere with shade . . . for both you the performer and your audience . . . somewhere you can put your hat . . . or guitar case with CDs offered for sale a few metres away but PROMINENT in your performance space. If the punters can’t see your hat . . . they can’t throw a coin your way.
TALK TO BUSINESS OWNERS BEFORE AND AFTER YOUR PERFORMANCE
If you are annoying or frustrating business operators it is best to discuss volume adjustment . . . suitability of the act and whether or not you are welcome. If businesses like your act . . . and encourage you . . . your whole stage persona will reflect that. Setting up in front of display windows and too close to entrances without seeking permission is ignorant. If you are ignorant of ettiquette or choose to ignore best practice guidelines . . . you are creating problems for other buskers.
Many business owners are more than fair and reasonable if you approach them with the understanding you will comply with their requests. In fact . . . many business owners who enjoy having a busker nearby will drop in a note . . . or even offer a coffee or meal in the case of cafes. Look like a busker not a beggar !
RESPECT WITH GRACE THE BUSINESS OWNERS RIGHT TO:
Refuse you permission to busk.
Request your volume be turned down.
Insist on a clear thoroughfare to their entrance
REMEMBER BUSINESS OPERATORS MAY APPROVE SOME BUSKING ACTS . . . BUT NOT ALL BUSKERS WILL BE WELCOME IF THEY ARE DETERMINED TO BE ANNOYING OR RUDE. Don’t say fuck in front of a child !
FACT: Enjoyment of busking at a favourite location is enhanced by a welcoming business.
FACT: In this mutually agreeable situation WHERE A GOOD VIBE EXISTS money and public appreciation will follow.