How to Make Money Busking (Street Performing)
Busking, or street performing, is a great way to pursue your passion as an entertainer and get some valuable experience showing off your craft in front of an audience. Whether you're a musician, acrobat, comedian, juggler, or another performer, there’s money just waiting to be made from your talents. Successful busking is all about setting the stage, no matter where you happen to be performing, and impressing the crowd enough to earn their admiration—and a few dollars in the process.
Giving a Great Performance
Come up with an exciting act.Before you can start raking in cash from a curbside tour de force, you’ll have to make sure that what you do is something people want to see. Fortunately, you’ve got a vast number of options available to you. Almost anything can make a riveting street performance, from live painting and singing to improvisational comedy and skateboard stunts.
- If you find yourself stumped about how to get started, single out the skills and talents that you’re most proud of, then think of a unique way to present them.
- Some of the most consistently popular busking acts include musicians, jugglers, acrobats, magicians, and dancers.
- Consider learning a new skill to separate yourself from the pack. In a city that’s inundated with dancers, for instance, you might go unnoticed. As a mime, however, you’re guaranteed to turn heads.
Plan at least an hour’s worth of material.Before you take to the street, write out a setlist detailing exactly what songs, tricks, or skill you want to perform, and in what order. Busking is not the same as improvising. If you repeat the same schtick over and over again, it won’t take long before you start boring your audience.
- You’re welcome to play for more than an hour, provided you have enough fresh material.
- If you’re a non-musical performer such as a magician, put together four or five separate acts that are each 15-20 minutes long and rotate between them as your audience changes.
Tailor each act to the audience that you’ve got.A magic show intended for older audiences, for example, should involve more sophisticated illusions than one for children. If a certain performance isn’t well-received, switch it up the next time around. Not only will this flexibility keep onlookers guessing, but it will also show off your range as a performer.
- Take requests, if asked. You might love Baroque music, for instance, but it will pay to have a few jazz or classic rock numbers under your belt if you find that crowds tend to call for them.
- One useful tactic is to survey the crowd as it gathers and determine the average age among the faces you see. You can then choose your material accordingly.
Ignore negative responses.Busking can be sweet, but it can also be sour at times. Try not to take it personally when someone walks away during your act or laughs when they’re not supposed to. Focus on entertaining the masses and drown out the naysayers and attention-hogs that attempt to rain on your parade.
Make an effort to improve with every performance.At the end of the day, review your act carefully. What succeeded? What still needs work? Jot down a few ideas on how to strengthen your weak spots and put your plan into action the next time you hit the sidewalk. By continually strengthening your craft, you stand to gain a larger audience, reach more people with your passion, and increase your earnings in the process.
- Observe your audience’s reactions closely. They can often provide you with the feedback you need, even if it’s mostly unspoken.
- Keep a notebook to record details like how much you earned for each performance, how busy different spots are at different times of day, and what people seemed to respond to the best.
Choosing an Ideal Setting
Read up on the laws on busking in your area.Not all cities have the same opinion of street performers. Some view them as harmless entertainment, while others consider the impromptu acts as a public nuisance or a type of glorified panhandling. In some cases, it may be necessary to apply for a special exhibitor’s permit before you can perform for money legally.
- Even different boroughs within the same city may have different regulations, so read carefully on the area you’ve chosen to stage your performance.
- If you’re asked to leave by a patrolman or property owner, comply. Putting up a fight will only land you in trouble and give buskers a bad name.
Find a spot with lots of foot traffic.Focus your search on high-visibility areas where people come and go all day long. You’ll get many more eyes on your act at a busy street corner or subway station than you would in a vacant alley. Other promising places to set up include town squares, open-air shopping malls, and outside popular night spots.
- If possible, select a location that’s suitable for the act you’re putting on—for instance, you’ll need quite a bit of room for an acrobatics display. Similarly, musicians will benefit from areas with good acoustics where the sound will carry to more curious ears.
- Be careful not to get in anyone’s way. This can quickly change the perception of your act from an endearing display to an irritating obstacle.
Schedule your performances for when the most people are out.Take note of when the streets in your area are busiest. During the workweek, rush hour and midday, when employees typically begin taking their lunch breaks, are ideal. Weekend afternoons and evenings are another good opportunity to get people flocking to see you, since they’ll already be out and about.
- Performing in or around train and subway stations can be a smart strategy, since you’ll have a new audience every time the shuttle stops.
- When you’re first starting out, stick with regular hours that you can bank on. As you get more experience, you can experiment with different times to adapt to the rhythms of your city, or even begin moving your act from place to place.
Set a simple yet eye-catching stage.Your busking backdrop doesn’t have to be elaborate. In most cases, a small signboard or banner will be sufficient for signalling that you’re a performer and not a panhandler. Make sure there’s a placard bearing your name nearby so interested onlookers will know who you are and how to find more of your work.
- If your act relies on lots of props and accessories, turn your storage solution into an advertising opportunity by stashing them in a push cart with the name of your act displayed on the side.
- For musical and spoken word performances, you might also make use of a microphone or amplifier, though this will limit your options as far as where you can set up.
Making Your Performances More Profitable
Set out a tip jar.Slap a label that reads “Tips Appreciated” or something similar onto your jar and situate it somewhere in plain sight—your audience will know what to do with it. For acts that are more or less stationary, make sure the tip jar is easily accessible so that onlookers aren’t forced to go out of their way to make a donation. If you move around a lot during your performance, you can carry it down the line or around the circle from person to person.
- Get creative by incorporating your tip jar into the theme of your act. For instance, you could leave an instrument case sitting open if you’re a magician, or turn a top hat upside down if you’re a magician.
- Resist the temptation to beg for contributions. If people want to tip you, they typically will out of their own accord.
Stand up.Unless your act specifically requires you to sit or kneel, get on your feet. It will be easier to see and hear what you’re doing this way and make you more noticeable to people in the distance. You’ll also be less likely to mistaken for someone asking for a handout, which could attract the wrong kind of attention.
- Invest in a strap for your musical instruments so you can play comfortably in a standing position.
Display confident body language.Make eye contact, smile, and nod at the people passing by. Let your passion shine through your performance. Speak in a strong, audible voice, sing loud and proud, and be confident in what you do. The more spirited you appear, the more likely people will be to stop and tip.
- Pause for a minute or two after each act on your setlist to talk to your audience and answer questions.
Welcome audience participation.Get people clapping their hands, hooting and hollering, and generally having a fun time. Invite volunteers to assist you in a complicated trick, or to sing along with you if they know the words. Kids in particular make wonderful volunteers—their enthusiasm can be contagious.
- Teach willing participants how to perform basic dance steps to connect with them one-on-one.
- A little playful teasing can make your audience members feel more involved. Just be careful not to embarrass them or hurt their feelings.
Devise a “hat line” to close out your act.A hat line is a that buskers use to encourage crowds to tip at the end of a performance. For a simple, no-frills hat line, you might say something like, “Thank you for coming and having a good time with me tonight, everyone! If you’d like to contribute to what I do, there’s a tip jar making its way around. Hope you stick around for this last number!” If you prefer a little more showmanship, you could make your hat line rhyme or sprinkle it with clever wordplay.
- It’s a good idea to deliver your hat line just before the big finale. Otherwise, the audience may have already thinned out by the time you’re finished.
Show your gratitude.When someone makes a donation, thank them personally and sincerely. After all, they’re the reason you’re able to channel your passion into your paying gig. The people who feel appreciated will be more likely to turn out to see again—and make further donations—in the future.
- Acknowledge generous passersby with a smile or nod when you’re busy performing.
- Never perform with the mentality that you’re owed something. As a busker, you’ve decided to take your chances, and every little bit that you walk away with is more than you had before.
QuestionDo I have to do a cover of a song?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, feel free to sing or play or perform an original song. However, covers would definitely be more familiar to your audience and they will be likely to sing along if it is a popular tune.Thanks!
QuestionHow old do I have to be to busk?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt varies from country to country, but in most cases, there are no age limits.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are some good ideas for busking?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMusic, Henna art, magic tricks, and dancing are all good busking acts. Be friendly and approachable.Thanks!
QuestionAt what age can I busk?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can busk at any age. Talk to your legal guardian and let them know what you're doing before you start busking.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are the busking laws in Washington, DC?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou cannot busk anyplace on the mall, near the museums, or at the monuments. You'll be asked to leave. You can't even get a permit. Take it from me, I didn't follow instructions from police and I got locked up for it.Thanks!
QuestionShould I play originals when street performing?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt's all up to you. Try different things, see what makes you the most money, and adjust accordingly.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is a respectable noise level?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou want to be loud enough that the audience can here you but not so loud as to annoy passersby. In some places it's illegal to use microphones or amps. If that's the case, then you will need to work on being loud enough for a chattering crowd to hear.Thanks!
QuestionWhere can I get a copy of busking laws?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBusking laws vary based on the area. Search online for busking laws in your specific city, state, or country for accurate busking laws.Thanks!
QuestionDo I have to have a license?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIn some areas, yes, but in places like Little Five Points in Atlanta, you don't.Thanks!
QuestionIs there a restriction on busking acts?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBusking laws vary based on the area. Look for busking laws in your area to inform yourself of any restrictions.Thanks!
What are the busking rules in CT?
- Don’t forget the most important rule of busking: have fun!
- It’s a good idea to get permission from nearby businesses before you begin performing.
- Have some inexpensive business cards printed up and leave them where onlookers can grab one as they depart.
- Supplement your income by selling CDs, T-shirts, posters, and other merchandise related to your act.
- Get to know the other buskers in your area, and be careful not to intrude on their usual spots or compete too fiercely for crowds.
- Multiply your performances, along with your earnings, by diversifying your skillset.
- Should you decide to pass your tip jar around, keep an eye on it to make sure no one attempt to steal from you.
- Never leave your instrument, props, or tip jar unattended.
- Busking can be a fun, active way to make a little extra money on the side, but chances are it won’t be enough to provide a stable source of income.
Sources and Citations
In other languages:
Deutsch: , Español: , Italiano: , Português: , Русский: , Français: , Nederlands: , Bahasa Indonesia: , العربية: , 한국어: , ไทย:
Video: 7 Tips on How to Make More Money Busking!
How to Write a Basic Advertising Plan
The Weird Reason Why Your Cat Naps Everywhere BUT His Cat Bed
How to Plant Boxwood
How to Have a Brainstorming Session Without Talking
Your Weight Problem Could Be Genetic
Are Internet Cat Videos Awesome or Annoying Two Editors FaceOff
BareMinerals Expert Shadow Liner Brush
A Depressing Number of Americans Believe Brown Cows Produce Chocolate Milk
Jean Paul Gaultier FallWinter 2014-2015 Collection – Paris Fashion Week
Instagram’s Watermelon Makeup is The New Summer Trend
Frozen Yogurt vs
How to Make Your Cell Phone Battery Last Longer