Busking. The modern day activity of the traveling minstrel, singing for his supper, charming the fair maids and locals in each town he passes through. I’ll give you a few tips from my 8 years of playing streets, squares and corners in almost every European country and the U.S.A.
3 helpful tips
- Be engaging!
If you are interested in making more than pocket change in your case, you gotta learn to engage.
I have found making eye contact, smiling, standing up while playing (If at all possible) moving/dancing while playing, speaking to people between songs, playing familiar/popular music and limiting the number of sad/slow songs I play to less than 1/4 of my set has helped my engagement.
- Know the difference between real police and street police.
There are usually two types of police in Europe. Street police and real police. Real police, although they appear much more intimidating, are usually less likely to shut you down for playing music in the street. The local city council often requires a permit to busk. Acquiring one of these permissions slips can be quite a process. It is much easier to ask forgiveness than permission. I have not been fined yet for playing in the street even when I was told it was not permitted. DO NOT use the local language with police even if you know and understand it. ENGLISH=IGNORANCE. 🙂 use it.
- Watch out for “territorial” performers
Seriously. It’s not always a dream to tour Europe street performing. You will often find gypsy or Roma people to be very pushy and accuse you of taking their “spot”. I assure you in these situations EVERY spot in the city is their spot. If you are alone, you may want to back down or at least give a look at surrounding street corners. You can make sure there is not an accomplish of your competition waiting to follow you home.
Just be a friendly and respectful person to all who you encounter and most issues resolve fairly quickly. Listen to, and reach out to friendly and approachable street artists for some tips on good places to play around the city. Click here for a more detailed guide about busking from tuneupandtravel.com. Do you have any tips or experiences to share of your time on the busking circuit? Share in the comments below.