You’re probably here because you want to take your busking to the next level, whether you’re struggling as it is or just want to move up in the world of street performance, we’ve collected some busking tips to help you get to where you need to be. As always, the following tips are meant to advise, and shouldn’t be taken as gospel, you still need to make sure that you have the necessary permissions to busk!
- Find good spots! A simple tip in the world of busking, you need to find one (or hopefully a collection of) good spots to play at, they can be lively areas, affluent areas or musically receptive areas, make sure you keep a note of the profitable and most enjoyable places to play and keep going back.
- Keep your distance from both other buskers and any areas where you may be considered a nuisance such as shop entrances, shopping malls (which probably wont let you play in them anyway) and anywhere you might be in the way. Nobody likes a nuisance busker.
- Be opportunistic. If an artist is in the news at the moment or (god forbid) has just passed away, you can get noticed by playing their songs. If you notice someone wearing a Smiths T Shirt nearby, play a Smiths song! Busking is an art, and you have to riff off your crowd to be the best.
- Come prepared! Bring a case for donations, some CDs, your card or some leaflets or other promo material as well as spare strings and plectrums, a capo and anything else you might need, treat your busking like any other gig, and bring plenty of gear!
- Keep your stamina up, and play for as long as you can! Unlike a paying gig, if you’re making money at all out of busking, the longer you can keep going the better, so make sure you have loads of busking songs stored up and some food and drink (sugar and caffeine) to keep you going.
- Practice, Practice, Practice! Nobody wants to hear a rusty busker! Make sure you’re up to scratch and can play every song on your setlist to the best of your abilities. No point in attempting a Jimi Hendrix song when your guitar skills are more like those of E.T (no, I don’t know why I used E.T. as an example).
- Learn from the best. Talk to other buskers, stop and listen when you see one, you might pick up some new songs to play or an idea to interact with your crowd.
- Find a USP and use it. USP stands for unique selling point – what is yours? Can you play an unusual instrument? Beatbox? Live loop? Do anything you can to try and interact with your audience and stand out in a crowd.