For our American friends, Busking is the act of street performing and when done right, it can be profitable enough to help fund your travels. You find buskers all over the world showing off their talents by singing, playing instruments, juggling and performing magic.
If you aren't shy and have any sort of talent that people might be interested in watching, then you are already qualified to be a busker.
For starters, to become a busker you need a place to perform. Many cities have specific laws either banning or regulating street performing. This is simply because busker's are considered to be beggars in many of the books. This is an old and archaic law and if your city doesn't allow busking, then we recommend getting involved in making it right.
Busking regulations are different across the globe. In the US for example, it is legal on most public property to busk as it is considered freedom of speech. Then it comes down to the municipal level, whether it is allowed or not. Some places busking is allowed but you need a permit to do it, others not at all.
Busking Locations - Locations around the world where you can busk your heart out
What can you do that will make people say to others "hey, you will not believe what I saw the other day". You busking talent can be as easy as swallowing swords while balancing on a basketball and singing Lean On Me or as hard as playing the guitar. Period.
If you can combine your talents to create one hybrid mega-talent than you can expect a lot more attention. It also helps if you are quick witted, so learn some jokes to improve your banter with the audience.
In deciding your busking area, you want a quiet space that has high foot traffic and ample standing room. Having lots of tourists helps as often they have small change and are looking to be entertained. See to it that the crowd has room to stand without obstructing local businesses and roadways. Make friends with area shops and fellow busker's as to avoid any unnecessary conflict.
Interact with the audience by telling jokes and offering stories or anecdotes. You will win the respect of the crowds as an entertainer and thus you will win their money.
Getting noticed as a busker
If you want people to pay you, you better be worth paying. Dress up in an original costume. Something that will help draw peoples curiosity to see what you're all about. You finally have an excuse to wear that old Dashiki with burgandy corderoy jeans.
It is great to be a person of contrast. For example, in Adelaide's Rundle Mall, there is a bikie who plays the flute. I kid you not. Check out his photo. This guy gets noticed because he twists your image of a tough bikie. He even has his own Facebook Fan Page.
You also have this piano playing busker in Melbourne, who looks like a vaudeville bum. How cool is that?
Remember the louder more conspicuous you look, the more attention you will grab, thus the more pitches. A great example of success is in the US with The Naked Cowboy. He makes a very good living busking in New York, but it is hard not to get noticed with an outfit like that.
One method of getting more people is to have a crowd. If other people see a crowd staring at something, they will almost always see what it is they are missing out on. So get that first crowd to watch you and more will come.
You will need some sort of receptacle for people to tip you with. It is recommended to throw money into the bucket beforehand so your audience knows what the bucket is for. Don't put in change as that tells people that you expect change. Start with 1, 5 and 10 dollar bills to help them get the hint.
If you have a large audience feeding on your every word, then be sure to let them know your pitch one last time before your finale. Even feel free to recommend an amount of money as they might not know an "appropriate" amount.
There is also such a thing as a professional busker, a person making their living traveling to different cities performing for the public. Becoming a professional busker is very difficult work and takes many years of practice but it can be done.
As with any form of live entertainment you will likely start out making very little money. Don't get discouraged, it takes time to hone your craft and learn the ropes of successful busking. With the right amount of practice, professional buskers can make over $200 a day for performing on the streets.
A few notable entertainers who started out busking which you may know of include Neil Young, Bare Naked Ladies, Sting, Benjamin Franklin and Steve Martin.
You can find a great many buskers and street performers at various festivals around the world. These are perfect for networking and sharing advice on busking and the trade.
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