Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

To polish my ‘in public skills’ on the box, I thought I would practice during lunch, say in a park or on a public square or the like. Sounds pretty harmless. My button box is not that loud.

Noooooooo. Forget the first amendment, you need a permit. Here in Chicago they want $100 and a face-to-face interview, by appointment only, oh…..and a two hour wait for the appointment.

I am curious. What do other places do for those of us who want to busk or just plain sit in a park an annoy the General public?

I kidded and asked if I would also need a clearance from The Department of Homeland Repression and Darth Cheney’s office….the lady at the desk was not amused.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

Do you honestly need a permit if you are not collecting money?

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

I think in the UK it’s up to local councils to decide whether to charge / regulate buskers or not. It’s about the only power they have left.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

Seattle requires permits to busk at the Pike Street Public Market and also at the Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is located). One performer, a magician, tried to challenge the requirements on First Amendment (free speech) grounds, but I don’t think he won his court case.

There have been problems in both places with conflicts between performers competing for prime spots, and also with aggressive panhandlers.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

God knows, I need the practice in front of people more than the money. City folks didn’t care. The Mayor needs his fees to finance all of the flowers they have planted.

I wa thinking I could put up a sign that says "Any money collected goes to Miserecordia (or some CHarity)- They need the money and God knows I need the Practice!"

Then I might even be able to deduct my box lessons as a charitable deduction on my tax return ;-)

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

I’ve got to say it, listening to someone practising in a public place at any appreciable volume can be bloody annoying - the stops, starts and repeats upset one’s expectations and natural rhythms somehow. But I’ve driven people round the bend with my own practising! I hope you find a thicket or a disused abbatoir or somewhere suitable.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

so, are you busking or are you practicing? What about the question of not accepting money?
I am brushing up on my performance skills on guitar by volunteering at a local nursing home where I provide entertainment for their "Happy Hour" on Fridays (2-3 in the afternoon).

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

I often take my mandolin to public parks and pick tunes while my kids play on the playground equipment. I don’t have a jar out, case open, etc, for collecting money. I am just making a bit of noise amusing myself. (And occasionally becoming an object of fascination for some wide-eyed tykes.)

Would this be illegal in Chicago?

Is it one of those gray area issues that depends on the mood of the enforcer?

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

I’m using the accoustic open mic nights in the bars up in town to annoy people, I mean to get used to fiddling in public

I would think that if you aren’t taking money, and you are on public property, that you are within your rights to make all the racket you want.

but I’m notoriously wrong about legal stuff, so don’t rely on reading this post out aloud in court when they throw you in the town jail

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

…Chicago!

I thought that was the place where, if you were any good at the ould trad, they would pick you off the street / out of the cells and give you a job with the police.

Maybe the city’s gone downhill a bit over the last century.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

Boulder, Colorado is a famous busking venue. People play on the Pearl Street pedestrian mall all the time.

The way I understand it, if you’re not amplified, and you’re only playing for tips, you don’t need a permit. If you’re trying to sell CDs, or doing something dangerous (like juggling fire), you need a permit. And if you’re doing "personal services", like Tarot readings or face painting, you also need a permit. And they only offer so many permits per day.

I know a couple of people who have made some money doing that. Might be fun to give it a shot some time.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

In Chicago no amplification permitted for street musicians. Not A problem. I did my time in hell with an band once. I appreciate not playing amplified.

crazy_fingerz: I suppose if I were out in the neighborhoods, I doubt the local gendarmes (who are much more diverse these days than in the days of Chief O’Neill) would push themselves out of the Dunkin Donuts to bother me. I work downtown so the local law enforecement types are more forceful

I think they must have a quota system. In the old days, they would have gotten a percentage of the take….

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

Lucky me. I can go down to my local brew pub and play my mandolin out on the porch. Of course I only know 2 tunes; Old Hag You’ve Killed Me & and a folk-punk song called Siobhan. Then there’s The White Petticoat which I’ve only got about 3/4 of down. But no one bothers me. Of course they don’t tip me either! Though I occasionally get sported a beer from a friend but that’s it.
The initial idea was to play and hopefully attract some other players to eventually someday form a session here. But that hasn’t happened at all yet. And most of the people I’ve met are into blues anyway. (good gawd I’m soooo sick of blues - YUK!)

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

So, as I understand it, you ARE expecting to accept money for your playing, not really practicing but performing in a public place?

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

wyogal

No. I simply asking about how permiting for street musicians is done around the Mustard Board known world! :-0

Having worked in government as a big cheese who was supposed to actually get things done (some time ago), the first thing I learned was never ever attempt to assign or expect any element of rationality on any aspect of anything done by any government entity. And to expect the unexpected. Alot like some church musicians I have crossed paths with over the years.

I was being frustrated by Chicago’s wealth of bureaucratic mypoia and was wondering what others had run into.

I do music for…um…I guess fun (some days more than others). My church music makes a bit of scratch that allows me to buy instruments and recording devices for ITM I otherwise could not afford without incurring Herself’s well exercised flaming red-headed Irish temper. She has practised alot on me. Anyway, I leave the attempts to make real money out of the music industry to those with skills far superior to mine.

Working in front of people is important in cementing things in the hand and brain memory. The experience is more valuable than the coin at my stage with the Box. But if I am good enough that someone throws some coin at me either because my music is appreciated or in the hopes I will go away, I would give it to someone for whom it would do more good.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

There is a permit required in Savannah for busking, but they don’t seem to enforce it. I’ve done it quite a few times, and as long as you don’t take the space of a "regular", no one seems to mind.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

First amendment? Ha… we stopped using that over 40 years ago.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

In the season in St Malo, Brittany, Northern France, you have to go to the Hotel de Ville where a nice lady will allocate you times and places where you can busk. They only used to give you three forty minute slots a day but the pitches (and the money) were good. No amplification allowed.

Apparently this policy arose from trouble in past years when amplified bands used to turn up and run pitched battles over the best pitches at peak times.

We’ve busked all over the place, and its usually the more touristy places where businesses are trying to make big cash in a short space of time that give buskers a load of hassle. Santiago in Galicia is a nightmare (so much for christian tolerance).

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

Assisi has gone the same way apparently - no room for the buskers amongst the myriad tourist shops selling plastic St.Francises.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

Here in Canberra, Australia you do not need any permit if you’re on public property. You also hear some very low standard artistes.

And Zippy my wife is the same - um, I mean the same flaming Irish
temper, not the same wife. Objects have been known to go flying that
weren’t meant to fly…

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

In Antwerp you pay a small fee for a yearly permit.No amplifiction. This year they’re introducing a test,to prove you can play.This is to filter out the people who hassle the customers sitting outside the cafes by blowing a few notes on the harmonica and then going around with the the hat.In the 1970’s they had a similar test in Covent Garden in London.The only person who failed to pass was Shane McGowan!

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

I have busked in a bunch of places where a permit is required and have found that the permit law is rarely enforced such as the middle of fecking Grafton street Guards walked by and didn’t say anything. I once busked in Seattle and nobody said anything there either.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

"Santiago in Galicia is a nightmare (so much for christian tolerance)."

I got moved on by a policeman there, who told me I needed a licence. I dutifully went to the police station, where a ‘statement’ was written on my behalf. I then had to take the document to some other department on the edge of town. There, they asked me for two photocopies of my passport. It seems, they didn’t have a photocopier there (or were too mean to use it) so I was sent to the shop across the road. As it turned out, they didn’t have one either. In the end, I thought, "This is going to take more time than I am likely to stay here." I talked to a few other buskers, who were dismissive of the licensing scheme and told me not to bother and just to play. The police never bothered me again.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

Its true that in Santiago you can usually get away with ignoring the police (for a while). Eventually we got stopped though. We ended up in the town hall where we were told all permits were allocated for the next two years. There didnt seem to be anybody actually busking apart from us.

I feel sorry for the folks who walk hundreds of miles on pilgrimage to this place, only to be confronted with bus party tourist babylon when they arrive. (I guess I didnt like Santiago). Elsewhere in Galicia - La Coruna, Pontevedra, the small towns, no problem - nice people, nice music.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

I’ll keep Santiago and Assisi in mind. I am considering traveling to Italy or spain next year (Herself wanted to try somewhere besides Ireland for once-she was worried I would spend to much time in pubs absorbing…..local culture as it were)

I don’t think she would tolerate busking. But I would like to do it in Chi-Town.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

In many big cities in America permits for busking are required (at least for the good locations), mainly to filter out the wheat from the chaff (so to speak). Some people want to make an honest wage off of it, and some think they can get by with scratching away in public and harassing passersby (think of it as cacophonous panhandling).

The busking permits basically serve to enforce a minimum standard (and it’s pretty minimal), as well as to help prevent the subways being taken over by competing squawkers.

That said, if you’re really just practicing (not putting a hat out for cash), and doing it outside prime busking territory, my bet is that you’re welcome to exercise your 1st amendment right (to free noisemaking) to your hearts content.

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

the goal includes no doing free noise making. I hope that is not too arrogant a goal!

Re: Busking permits-aka Public Performance Permits

i’m a bit tardy here but anyway…

London
you cannot busk in the "Royal" parks
ie
Green Park
Greenwich Park
Hyde Park
Richmond Park
St. James’s Park
ie the big ones in town.
i once saw a poor chap threatened with arrest in green park for playing the fiddle. he wasnt that bad.

in the old days busking was illegal on the tube/underground system but it was usually tolerated.
my favourite memory of london buskers is 3 totally mashed punks performing "hanging around" at victoria tube station, they were wasted, but good enough to be entertaining. yes i tipped them.

nowadays, in the interest of "raising standards" or was that destroying spontinaeity?…, busking on the tube is controlled by audition/licence and every sanctioned busking spot on the tube is designated by a big target/pad, sponsored by a big fracking logo of a big fracking beer company who are trying to make their name synonomous with live music throughout the uk.
needless to say, those punks i mentioned would never have achieved/applied for a licence.

welcome to the pleasuredome.

covent garden is totally regimented, i read somewhere that buskers have to turn up at 8am each day to be given a slot, then wait the rest of the day to perform.
….having said that its a perfect spot to busk and make money from it.

the south bank (of the thames) is often very busy with buskers, i dont know how it works down there; there are so many buskers, it seems difficult to make an impact, however you do see the same faces coming back so it must pay.

however, not much itm there… time for someone to have a crack….