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The Street Musicians/Buskers Information Exchange

#1 User is offline   Bonder

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 01:39 PM

I am a street musician and have played and paid my way from NY to EU. This is my life and how I make my living...

Anyone who works the streets knows how rewarding it can be in so many different ways. Just as well, buskers know the pitfalls associated with this ancient profession, such as getting moved on by police and such.


So I wanted to start this topic so that we buskers can share information and updates about the cities we are playing in, so as to keep each other informed about the reception that we expect to receive from city to city..


So here are some reviews of the cities I have played in:

1. New York - a bad city to busk in for the most part. The only real place worth playing is times square, where a lot of money can be made in a matter of minutes...However, you need a permit, which are no longer being issued last i checked because there are too many..

if you decide to be a rebel and take your chances, private security guards who work for the so called times square alliance will be quick to move you on once they see you..

and if the police get to you first, they will move you on without question...

Penn Station is a decent place to busk because there are a lot of tourists and out of towners who pass through there...At rush hour when it gets really busy, chances are you will get moved on for impeding traffic..but otherwise, its a great pitch...


On average, New Yorkers are pretty blase about street performers so unless you are in a tourist infested place, you will be hard pressed to make money...

The subways are fine, if playing in hot, sweaty dungeons all day is your thing, and chances are no one will bother you...but more than likely, the good stations will be occupied by buskers with licenses to be there...

I played in a not so busy station in Herald square one time, and I must have played for 45 minutes or so before I gave up because I was making absolutely no money...


2. Washington D.C.

D.C. is a city where I have made the most money, but I have also gotten arrested the most. I used to make 300 USD a day regularly busking on the NAtional MAll and in front the the various Smithsonian museums such as Air And SPace, Museum of Natural HIstory, etc...

But this tourist trap on the national mall is a no go if you want to make money. You can play on the mall for free, but if the police catch you accepting donations, there is gonna be trouble..

I have been arrested twice for playing on the National Mall, and threatened with arrest on too many occassions to count..

The National Mall is patrolled by the U.S. park police since it is federal property and not a part of DC..Park police are federal officers and they are ASSHOLES...these cops were seriously bullied in school and were never picked for the team during team sports!

So if you want to play it safe and avoid the National MAll which is a tourist goldmine, especially in the summer, you can play in places like georgetown, with no problem, or any other busy subway station during rush hour like gallery place, lenfant plaza, metro center, etc. and make pretty decent money...

The DC police generally dont care much about moving buskers on..they will leave you alone for the most part..
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#2 User is offline   Gregam530

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 01:39 PM

3. Barcelona

In the summer, BCN is awesome..I am talking 60 euris or more an hour awesome, but there are a few downsides to this place, although there are many upsides..


in BCN, the government is power now is pretty fascist to say the least, which means the rights of the citizens come AFTER the rights of businesses and corporations in the society..

Now In BCN, you need a permit to play on the streets...I went to the office at the Ajutament near La Rambla and they told me that the office was closed during the summer and was not issuing permits at that time..


Mind you, when the touritast leave during the fall winter, BCN becomes a barren place in a lot of ways because there are virtually no tourists, even though the weather is still pretty warm..

Even if you are lucky enough to get a permit, you can only play at certain marked points throughout the city.. these marked points are not very good locations mind you..on top of that, you can only play at those points at certain times...


You can be a rebel and take your chances and play wherever you want, but chances are, the guardia urbana will shut down your operation eventually...its only a matter of time..

and in spain, the guardia urbana are fond of writing you fines, and even seizing your instrument on top of a huge fine if you are a repeat offender...


mossos d#esquadra police in BCN never gave me a problem because i guess they have more serious issues to deal with so if you are an unlicenses musician in BCN, by all means, watch out for the guardia urbana!


There is one consoliation in BCN, though and that is parc guell...here musicians are allowed to play freely without being molested by the police...until you encroach on another musicians terrtitory that is!

In parc guell, if you can find a good spot to play, you are lucky, because it seems that most of the musicians there have been playing there for years and feel like they are entitled to certain spots..if you challenge them, they will call the police and have the police try to back them up..

I have been in so many turf wars with other musicians in parc guell, its unreal, but hey...people are selfish..i guess thats part of human nature..no one wants to share..

so if you dont have balls, you wont last long in parc guell, or you will just be relegated to some remote corner of the parc where no one will hear you and you will make no money!


in BCN you can play at the musicians point with no permit with no problem, even though the points are for licensed musicians..The police dont go underground really, and only the metro security patrols there, but they dont bother musicians...but the money in the BCN metro sucks. on average, you will make 7 or 8 euros per hour down there, regardless of how busiy it is..not only that, but its HOT down there!


4. Paris


What can i say? I love paris, but playing there is unreal at times..

forget about playing in the metro...in a city as beautiful as paris, you have to play among the monuments in order the have the most impact esthetically and financially...

paris is totally arbitrary...there are probably half a million police officers there who cant seem to agree on the rules for street performing...So you just take your chances..PAris is big, so if you get moved on in one place, just go to the next until you find that place where you can play unmolested...but it changes from week to week..

one week, notre dame will be alive with buskers, then the next week, there is a police car posted there all day everyday to keep buskers away...

But generally, i made a good living in paris, although I never really played in any one place on a permanent basis..but in paris, there are tourists everywhere, and monuments everywhere so its not just hard to pack up and move somewhere else close by...



5. Denmark -

I have played in copenhagen in the summer and aalborg in the winter...

its some of the best money i have ever made, but go figure...its denmark...everyone there has money and they need it because denmark is crazy expensive!


everyone is pretty liberal and easy going there, i would say...its a rare occasion that police will move you on, and in order to be courteous, I would reccommend moving about 200 meters every half and hour or so because the streets are small and danish people are often too polite to just tell you to move, so if you can, try to save them the stress and the energy and you will make lots of money and go unmolested..


but overall, the money in denmark is great all year round..danish people are very generous, although it is rare that they will open and friendly with you...


6. Berlin


To Be COnt.
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#3 User is offline   PorfirioB

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 01:39 PM

Wow! Great tips Rudy! Thanks! Cant wait to know more of your experiences.
S
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#4 User is offline   SlimJim

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 01:39 PM

This is an informative commentary Rudy. It seems to convey the specific street culture of the places. Not only is there tension between the establishment and avonguard, you mentioned how there is contension among street musicians to perform in places. I am a musician and play in restuarants. My experience as a musician seems to be different from what you explained. I have a set space to perform and predictable income unless the customers tip me. Street musicians experience is open for income but also open to being abused.
Thanks for sharing,
Brendan
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#5 User is offline   facebulk

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 01:39 PM

hello.great post! i play in brass band and we play always on street!
if you need information about busker in south of france, germany, italy you can tell me.
good luck!
seb
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#6 User is offline   Marlboro

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 01:39 PM

I play to, but in the underground in Kyiv and now. Do you want to play here?))
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