A Guide to Busking in the USA

Re: A Guide to Busking in the USA

Thanks for posting this. Looks like good advice.

Re: A Guide to Busking in the USA

Here are some points I would add:

Be careful what you play - ITM is not pop music and you therefore do not have familiarity going for you. Make sure you stay dynamic and interesting. Avoid slow tunes that cause your audience to move on.

Be careful what you say - Don’t talk unless you have something to say and can be clearly heard. It detracts from the performance more than you know.

Be careful how you ask for money - This is a big one for street performers. Jugglers and such can get away (somewhat) with witty banter and techiques to pass the hat. Musicians do better if people simply drop money in the hat as they play. If you have CDs, have them available with the price and a place to drop the money in. Don’t do a sales pitch.

Be physically dynamic - Give your audience something to see as well as hear. Move around if you can. Play to the kids or members of the audience who are obviously into what you are doing. Make your audience feel they are a part of something. Don’t just play; give a performance.

Remember that your audience owes you nothing. It was your decision to play for them. If they feel from you an obligation to put in money, they won’t hang around long enough to feel like they should pay you. If they like you, they will be only too happy to pay - but not because you have made an issue of it.

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Re: A Guide to Busking in the USA

US courts from Hawaii to Maryland have held that busking is a form of speech and is therefore protected by the US constitution. You need not be concerned about technique, style, instrument, funds solicitation or any other aspect of performance in that you are exercising your constitutional right to free speech while engaged in busking.

I refer you to this article, which sums it up rather nicely: