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Rllink
09-11-2014, 06:46 AM
When I started playing the ukulele, my goal was to someday stand on the street in Old San Juan, open up my ukulele case and playing my uke. I told my wife that she could sing with me, but she declined, but I'm not there yet, so there is hope that she will be inspired. My goal was to at least make a little money in the process.

OK, so the other day I was talking to a friend. He was complaining about all the "pan handlers" around this summer. The guy in front to the Quick Trip playing a guitar, the guy out in front of the Hotel on Main Street playing the Sax, and all the ones at the farmer's market. So he said, " isn't there a law against pan handling like that." I've always considered street performers as artists. In fact, I've always admired people who have the guts to put it all out there on the corner, but evidently there are people out there who consider street performing just another form of begging. Anyone run into that attitude in their travels?

coolkayaker1
09-11-2014, 07:02 AM
If a homeless man is laying on a busy sidewalk, against a building, in a puddle of urine, half-asleep, with a dirty foam coffee cup full of change two-feet from him, not making a sound. Is he begging?

A man paints himself gold, stands on a milk crate and acts like a statue, a cup of coins at his feet. An artist? Busking or begging?

A homeless man sits on a busy sidewalk with a parrot on his shoulder, cardboard sign, "Meet Polly", telling passersby that his bird can mime them or sing to them. He has a cup of change at his feet. Busking or begging?

A man on a street corner with a typewriter has a sign that says he'll type out a personal, four-line poem for $2. Busking?

I rest my case.

(Kidding, rllink. All things I've seen. I don't have the answer to your good question. A quick Google search shows me that your question has been debated more than the US tax code. lol)

PhilUSAFRet
09-11-2014, 07:08 AM
People who don't understand the difference between "panhandling" and "busking" are not necessarily mean spirited, but just ignorant. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, I would just prefer they base it on fact.

http://busking.streetiam.com/

http://thingstodo.viator.com/puerto-rico/exploring-calle-fortaleza/

DownUpDave
09-11-2014, 07:29 AM
I am not a musician or a performer, I started playing uke 6 months ago from a basically non-musical background. I will give my opinion but it is just that, probably full of ignorance. I was born and raised in the big city of Toronto where there are alot of different people doing alot of different things to try and get some money.

What is the difference between a busker and squeggy kids. Both are offering a service or something of preceived value in the hopes you will give them some money. One is cleaning your car window at a red light, the other is playing music you hear as you pass by. Both are looking to get money from you. I guess I do enjoy hearing the music more than having my windshield cleaned. I actually applaude both of them for a least doing something instead of sitting against a building holding out a coffee cup.

Jon Moody
09-11-2014, 07:41 AM
When I think of someone "begging," they're usually by themselves at intersections that have long lights or on highway off ramps with some sort of sign SPECIFICALLY ASKING FOR MONEY.

When I think of someone "busking," they're usually playing some music outside and may or may not have some people stopping to listen. They also may have a can/jar/case where, if you're so inclined, you can give them money. We usually have a lot of buskers the first Friday of the month, when the downtown holds their monthly Art Hop, where businesses all showcase local artists.

There is a HUGE difference between the two, and yes, I've run into people that don't consider busking anything more than begging (those are also the people, I've found, that can't comprehend that music is a career for many, and not just some silly hobby).

Ukejenny
09-11-2014, 07:44 AM
You rarely see any busking or begging in my very small community. When I've been to places like New York, say, or New Orleans (rarely) and see the musicians playing, I always think highly of them, especially if they are performing well. I try to show my thanks, especially if I stay and listen.

KaijuEmily
09-11-2014, 08:26 AM
What the heck are u comparing? These people are performing to earn money, not begging....

Dan Uke
09-11-2014, 08:55 AM
My friend just got a permit to busk so certain cities regulate it (make money).

hoosierhiver
09-11-2014, 09:06 AM
As someone that has traveled quite a bit in places like India, I am very critical of pan-handlers, but I have no problem with buskers even if they are not talented, they are at least trying to give something to get something.

ricdoug
09-11-2014, 10:43 AM
Busking is a first ammendment right. Like Nongdam stated "money" drives municiplaities to liscense and regulate this. too. Generally, when playing farmers markets and street faires, other musicians are my best tippers. The venue basically gets free entertainment for their patrons, while the musician works for tips and exposure. Ric

JupeyWoopey
09-11-2014, 10:44 AM
We had an old guy in my town who would stand on street corners playing a guitar with only 3 strings (all out of tune) singing crazy songs that made no sense. He would do this every day regardless of the weather. Most people would've probably classed him as a beggar. He became a bit of a tourist attraction and you couldn't help but smile when you saw him. It wasn't until he died and his death was reported in the local paper that it transpired that he was actually a millionaire who lived in one of the most affluent places in town. What people didn't realise before this was that all the money he made while doing this he donated to charity. Every single penny. He didn't advertise what he was doing. He just done it. What a crazy kind hearted man. There's a moral to this story somewhere. Personally I think as long as you are providing some sort of service, be it a song or a laugh then it's all good in my book.

Kayak Jim
09-11-2014, 11:43 AM
We had an old guy in my town who would stand on street corners playing a guitar with only 3 strings (all out of tune) singing crazy songs that made no sense. He would do this every day regardless of the weather. Most people would've probably classed him as a beggar. He became a bit of a tourist attraction and you couldn't help but smile when you saw him. It wasn't until he died and his death was reported in the local paper that it transpired that he was actually a millionaire who lived in one of the most affluent places in town. What people didn't realise before this was that all the money he made while doing this he donated to charity. Every single penny. He didn't advertise what he was doing. He just done it. What a crazy kind hearted man. There's a moral to this story somewhere. Personally I think as long as you are providing some sort of service, be it a song or a laugh then it's all good in my book.


I like this story. A non-conformist, likely judged harshly by many, just doing his thing, and a good thing at that.

sukie
09-11-2014, 11:58 AM
Wasn't it Joshua Bell who was busking in the subway and no one recognized him? I think it was him.
Anyway...seems to me busking and begging are 2 completely different things. With busking I believe the artists are hoping you will compensate them for their talents.

Artists are sooooo undervalued.

chefuke
09-11-2014, 11:58 AM
7078070780

Anything goes in my view - we have the choice of donating or not.

The picture is Dieter Meier from Yello in New York.

kypfer
09-11-2014, 12:00 PM
I'm not even sure what comprises "pan-handling", but here in our sunny but fairly conservative little island you need an official license/permit to busk and the cost is not insignificant (30 sterling as I remember), so you'd need to be fairly competent and consequently feel fairly confident that you'd be able to cover your expenditure reasonably quickly!

I'm not sure what would happen to an unlicensed busker ... we don't have an on-street begging issue here so there's little precedent. I suspect a stern word in the ear of the offender would be a first step, re-offending would probably incur the wrath of the authorities and result in some hours of community service needing to be served ... it's been some years since they abandoned flogging locally ;)

SteveZ
09-11-2014, 12:10 PM
Very interesting topic!

While "free speech" can't be blocked, compensated activity can be taxed.

I guess it's all about being a good neighbor. If folk use common sense, usually life goes on peacefully for all. It's when folk get too in-your-face pushy or whatever term you prefer that makes local government (regardless of size or locale) seek creative ways to curb the complained-about activity.

So, as far as moneys received through busking is concerned, is it charity or is it taxable income? Is the busker an entrepreneur or beggar? Is busking a business activity which may require a local business license like any other business or just a person goofing off at a pedestrian-frequented location? Should a busker-businessperson's sidewalk access and activity be regulated just like a hot dog vender is? What's the difference, and calling it "art" when the intent is to acquire cash doesn't cut it.

I'm not against busking as a money-making for-profit activity, but do believe that if my income-for-services is taxed that others providing services-for-income be treated simlarly out of simple equality.

hoosierhiver
09-11-2014, 01:24 PM
Very interesting topic!

While "free speech" can't be blocked, compensated activity can be taxed.

I guess it's all about being a good neighbor. If folk use common sense, usually life goes on peacefully for all. It's when folk get too in-your-face pushy or whatever term you prefer that makes local government (regardless of size or locale) seek creative ways to curb the complained-about activity.

So, as far as moneys received through busking is concerned, is it charity or is it taxable income? Is the busker an entrepreneur or beggar? Is busking a business activity which may require a local business license like any other business or just a person goofing off at a pedestrian-frequented location? Should a busker-businessperson's sidewalk access and activity be regulated just like a hot dog vender is? What's the difference, and calling it "art" when the intent is to acquire cash doesn't cut it.

I'm not against busking as a money-making for-profit activity, but do believe that if my income-for-services is taxed that others providing services-for-income be treated simlarly out of simple equality.

Some interesting points and perspective.
I suppose any busker could keep track more or less of what they make and pay their taxes, some probably do. Others may be clearly below the poverty line and wouldn't owe anyways.
In my town, you've got to get a permit which seems to be easy and free and then it comes down to finding peace with the closest shop owners by not impeding traffic, etc.

ericchico
09-11-2014, 01:30 PM
Our little city is full of panhandlers. They drive out downtown patrons and make the downtown park a mess. Its a big topic here to the point where the downtown businesses hired their own security to keep them from loitering. If they were entertaining people it might get taken differently.

Skinny Money McGee
09-11-2014, 02:37 PM
First pict is a begger panhandler, 2nd pict is an artist busker

SteveZ
09-11-2014, 03:09 PM
First pict is a begger panhandler, 2nd pict is an artist busker

Is there any difference between the "artist busker" in the second caption and, let's say, Billy Joel? Both perform music for money, albeit the audience pays more to listen to Billy Joel. Shouldn't they both be subject to the same rules regarding the accounting for revenue, paying taxes related to revenues collected, et cetera?

Part of the problem is the inferred notion that the "artist busker" should not be subject to the plebian rules levied legally on the rest of us, or the more financially successful other "artists" related to professional activities. Whether it's full-time or part-time, it's indeed "self-employment" if the goal is to obtain money. After all, the pail, hat or open instrument case strategically located between the "artist busker" and the audience is there for one purpose only (as money collector). Being an "artist" isn't a general exemption to the mundane things like income taxes, Social Security contributions, etc..

As soon as expecting/hoping/receiving money for performance is involved, the person crosses the line from amateur to professional (some more successful at it than others!). Once professional status is attained, then along with it comes all sorts of licensing, permits, taxes, fees, regulations and such.

So, it brings us back to the original question. If the "artist busker" sees him/herself as exempt from professional regulation even though money is expected/hoped/received for the busker's performance, then the busker is not a professional, but indeed a beggar.

coolkayaker1
09-11-2014, 04:07 PM
70788

Busking? Begging?

(Aside: SteveZ, you made a solid point in your post below, btw. Agree!)

Icelander53
09-11-2014, 04:54 PM
Well I like hearing folk playin on the corner. There I can keep an eye on em and know they aren't around back breaking into my car. :nana:

UkerDanno
09-11-2014, 05:32 PM
then there's the guy I saw several years ago on a median in Boulder, CO with a sign: "Won't work, Ain't hungry, need beer" is that begging? certainly not busking, though it could be viewed as that by some, I'm sure. ;-D

UkerDanno
09-11-2014, 05:38 PM
We had an old guy in my town who would stand on street corners playing a guitar with only 3 strings (all out of tune) singing crazy songs that made no sense. He would do this every day regardless of the weather. Most people would've probably classed him as a beggar. He became a bit of a tourist attraction and you couldn't help but smile when you saw him. It wasn't until he died and his death was reported in the local paper that it transpired that he was actually a millionaire who lived in one of the most affluent places in town. What people didn't realise before this was that all the money he made while doing this he donated to charity. Every single penny. He didn't advertise what he was doing. He just done it. What a crazy kind hearted man. There's a moral to this story somewhere. Personally I think as long as you are providing some sort of service, be it a song or a laugh then it's all good in my book.

that's a very cool old guy! I was actually thinking of putting myself out there, with a sign on my case "All proceeds going to (some abused women/children) charity." I wouldn't be doing it to make money(for one thing I'm not that good), just to maybe entertain and get some approval! Isn't that what all entertainers crave is approval?!

itsme
09-11-2014, 05:47 PM
Wasn't it Joshua Bell who was busking in the subway and no one recognized him? I think it was him.
Yes, it was.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html

"the final haul for his 43 minutes of playing was $32.17. Yes, some people gave pennies."

We are talking about a world class player in a busy subway.

For most buskers, that amount isn't exactly typical.


As soon as expecting/hoping/receiving money for performance is involved, the person crosses the line from amateur to professional (some more successful at it than others!). Once professional status is attained, then along with it comes all sorts of licensing, permits, taxes, fees, regulations and such.

So, it brings us back to the original question. If the "artist busker" sees him/herself as exempt from professional regulation even though money is expected/hoped/received for the busker's performance, then the busker is not a professional, but indeed a beggar.
Damn, dude, I mean no disrespect, but I think you've missed the point.

If someone tosses a dollar or a quarter or whatever into your case because they enjoyed your playing, it doesn't instantly make you a professional because you accepted the money and that you need to declare it as income for tax purposes.

Would you expect a teenager that babysits a couple nights a week to file a tax return on their earnings? Or an old lady who does laundry for a neighbor that doesn't have a washer/dryer for less than it would cost said neighbor to go to a laundromat?

Even when you're considered a contractor under a 1099, you don't get one til you've hit $600/yr.

sukie
09-11-2014, 05:50 PM
Is there any difference between the "artist busker" in the second caption and, let's say, Billy Joel? Both perform music for money, albeit the audience pays more to listen to Billy Joel. Shouldn't they both be subject to the same rules regarding the accounting for revenue, paying taxes related to revenues collected, et cetera?

Part of the problem is the inferred notion that the "artist busker" should not be subject to the plebian rules levied legally on the rest of us, or the more financially successful other "artists" related to professional activities. Whether it's full-time or part-time, it's indeed "self-employment" if the goal is to obtain money. After all, the pail, hat or open instrument case strategically located between the "artist busker" and the audience is there for one purpose only (as money collector). Being an "artist" isn't a general exemption to the mundane things like income taxes, Social Security contributions, etc..

As soon as expecting/hoping/receiving money for performance is involved, the person crosses the line from amateur to professional (some more successful at it than others!). Once professional status is attained, then along with it comes all sorts of licensing, permits, taxes, fees, regulations and such.

So, it brings us back to the original question. If the "artist busker" sees him/herself as exempt from professional regulation even though money is expected/hoped/received for the busker's performance, then the busker is not a professional, but indeed a beggar.
I'm not at all saying I disagree with what you say. But....you do seem to be saying that buskers don't pay taxes on the money. I actually tend to agree with you, but that is not necessarily true. How do we know if some do or don't?
Wouldn't a beggar be someone who asks for stuff with no intention of giving you something back in return? At least buskers are giving you something and hoping you show some appreciation in return. I'm not sure where the tax part comes in. Technically, beggars should be paying taxes too as they are receiving an income, no?

sukie
09-11-2014, 05:57 PM
I just played in my State Fair's talent show. People had to pay to see me play. Everyone had to buy an admission ticket to the fair if they wanted to just see me play -- and some people did just that. (Cripes! Even I had to pay to play). So.....am I now a professional? I don't think so. I didn't make any money by doing this, but the State Fair people did.


It was sorta fun, though.

jcarlos
09-11-2014, 07:03 PM
There's a HUGE difference between beggars and buskers. Since we are discussing more than just musicians, I'm going to use street performer for the rest of this reply. I'm a street performer, I have been doing it on and off for 4-5 years and I have never asked anyone for money or favors. I have my case open and if someone wants to donate money to me I will accept it. Me performing music is not a service, I do not take requests. I was not contracted by anyone to go out and perform. I go out and perform on my own accord because I like to perform in public places, sometimes with a case sometimes without it. When I perform it is not a service. Some performers may work this way, but I do not. So you cannot pigeon hole me and performers like me with other street performers who are offering their skill or talent up for transaction and transaction only. To me a service is defined as money up front for a trade and then the trade is completed, end of service. If you believe that every street performer is offering a service either way, then you are simply wrong.

Should we tax all street performers. Hell no, its a pure donation based system. If we as a society want to tax all donations and every single transactions, then lets start with all the major churches who are purchasing mansions and private jets from donations made by their followers. As well as the non profits that are making a killing in profits off of their donations. Once you get those laws passed let me know and I'll start making sure the government gets their cut of my measly $20 that were donated to me after performing for a week. While we are at it lets also tax the homeless man who is collecting money to get something to eat.

When it comes to permits. I agree that some places should require permits, like private owned property and what have you. However I do not agree with the idea of requiring a permit for every single place you want to play music, especially in a public space. Can you imagine if you went to a park and played music, a cop shows up and tells you to stop if you don't have a permit. Its happened to me before. In that particular city the permit was $500. Its not worth it as it could take months to make $500 as a street performer, so I just chose not to perform in that city. The funny this is I didn't even have a case with me to collect money, I was just singing some songs at a bench. The most I ever payed for a permit was $30 in another city and no reporting how much you made was not required because they understand its small donations. I was told by a city worker that they could care less how much you made, the permit is their cut.

If you really want to understand the differences between a performer and a beggar, especially those who like to pigeonhole the two together, I suggest you go out and try it for a few months. I would say 5 months at least. Don't ask anyone for anything, just set up and perform in a high traffic area for hours at a time. You will see that it is not an easy thing to do, you will soon find out that being a street performer just for money is not worth it.

Then if you really want to have a real experience, go out and beg for money where ever you can. You will find that it is actually easier to make money begging, I know because I tried it before as well. Yes people will think you are homeless or on drugs, and they will treat you with no respect as if you were less than human. They will run from you as if you have ebola, or just give you money so that you can go away. Then right after your done begging for a couple of days, go and perform some music in the same area, and take note of how people treat you. After you do all that come back and tell me that they are the same thing.

His Sinfulness
09-11-2014, 08:12 PM
I live in Korea, and busking is a little different here. Korean culture can be quite conformist, so doing something in public that gets you stared at is actually completely horrifying to many Koreans. I know Korean musicians who are quite good players, but they would NEVER consider playing in a public place unless it was an organized performance. In Seoul, there is a certain neighborhood where busking is quite common, but it is in the "Arts District" so it is expected. Most of the performers there are also playing gigs in the clubs around the area, so busking is mainly a form of advertising, not a big money maker. The places where you see buskers in the US (like subway stations) are generally free of buskers or panhandlers.

Our band has busked a bit in the college district of our town and it was well received, but our band is mostly foreigners, so we are a bit of a curiosity. We drink a few beers, and play through our song list for about 2-3 hours. It's fun, and the last time we went out we got a lot of applause and pulled in the equivalent of $85. Sometimes it's good to be the strange foreigner... ;)

Dan Uke
09-11-2014, 09:09 PM
I think as musicians, we are all sympathetic towards other musicians. One thing interesting is that I've seen some bad musicians busking but I don't recall ever see a bad dancer or those robot guys.

kohanmike
09-11-2014, 09:50 PM
If I remember correctly, in the US, you can be paid from a single person or company up to $600 a year, to I think it's around $9,000 dollars total before you have to declare it.

I'm also one who does not consider busking begging. I spent a couple of summers with a close guitar playing friend as he performed with a jazz combo and a blues group on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California (I even sat in a couple of times on harmonica). At that time Santa Monica required street performers to have a permit, which was $35 a quarter.

Yes, there was one guy who sat at a toy drum set banging with no rhythm at all, obviously a beggar who figured on getting in on the income of real performers, but most all of the street performers were quite good. I donate to most everyone, even more for the really accomplished ones.

chefuke
09-11-2014, 09:56 PM
There's a HUGE difference between beggars and buskers. Since we are discussing more than just musicians, I'm going to use street performer for the rest of this reply. I'm a street performer, I have been doing it on and off for 4-5 years and I have never asked anyone for money or favors. I have my case open and if someone wants to donate money to me I will accept it. Me performing music is not a service, I do not take requests. I was not contracted by anyone to go out and perform. I go out and perform on my own accord because I like to perform in public places, sometimes with a case sometimes without it. When I perform it is not a service. Some performers may work this way, but I do not. So you cannot pigeon hole me and performers like me with other street performers who are offering their skill or talent up for transaction and transaction only. To me a service is defined as money up front for a trade and then the trade is completed, end of service. If you believe that every street performer is offering a service either way, then you are simply wrong.

Should we tax all street performers. Hell no, its a pure donation based system. If we as a society want to tax all donations and every single transactions, then lets start with all the major churches who are purchasing mansions and private jets from donations made by their followers. As well as the non profits that are making a killing in profits off of their donations. Once you get those laws passed let me know and I'll start making sure the government gets their cut of my measly $20 that were donated to me after performing for a week. While we are at it lets also tax the homeless man who is collecting money to get something to eat.

When it comes to permits. I agree that some places should require permits, like private owned property and what have you. However I do not agree with the idea of requiring a permit for every single place you want to play music, especially in a public space. Can you imagine if you went to a park and played music, a cop shows up and tells you to stop if you don't have a permit. Its happened to me before. In that particular city the permit was $500. Its not worth it as it could take months to make $500 as a street performer, so I just chose not to perform in that city. The funny this is I didn't even have a case with me to collect money, I was just singing some songs at a bench. The most I ever payed for a permit was $30 in another city and no reporting how much you made was not required because they understand its small donations. I was told by a city worker that they could care less how much you made, the permit is their cut.

If you really want to understand the differences between a performer and a beggar, especially those who like to pigeonhole the two together, I suggest you go out and try it for a few months. I would say 5 months at least. Don't ask anyone for anything, just set up and perform in a high traffic area for hours at a time. You will see that it is not an easy thing to do, you will soon find out that being a street performer just for money is not worth it.

Then if you really want to have a real experience, go out and beg for money where ever you can. You will find that it is actually easier to make money begging, I know because I tried it before as well. Yes people will think you are homeless or on drugs, and they will treat you with no respect as if you were less than human. They will run from you as if you have ebola, or just give you money so that you can go away. Then right after your done begging for a couple of days, go and perform some music in the same area, and take note of how people treat you. After you do all that come back and tell me that they are the same thing.

Thanks for your insight. I had a few mates back in my bad days that roughed it on the streets and they shared similar stories about begging - do you think that some towns charge more for a permit to avoid street performers at all?

SonSprinter
09-11-2014, 10:52 PM
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zsYIwvlejC4
How is this one. It has got to be busking ...

Icelander53
09-11-2014, 11:57 PM
I don't want to live in a town that doesn't allow street performers. Things are drab enough as it is. It never crossed my mind that street performing was begging. I know begging and see a lot in my town because the money is good. I see a lot less street performers which is a shame as they are often very good and I really don't like going to large venues to hear music. But running into a musician playing on the street can make my day and has.

kypfer
09-12-2014, 12:25 AM
Icelander53 wrote:
I really don't like going to large venues to hear music ... running into a musician playing on the street can make my day and has. :music: :cool: :cheers:

Jon Moody
09-12-2014, 03:00 AM
If I remember correctly, in the US, you can be paid from a single person or company up to $600 a year, to I think it's around $9,000 dollars total before you have to declare it.

Anything over $600 from a single source you have to declare, period. I do a lot of gigs in community theatres (for musicals) as well as high schools, and usually have a large number of 1099s at the end of the year, a couple of which are as low as $625.

And technically, ANY money you make needs to be declared; ask someone in the restaurant industry about declaring tips. Doesn't mean they're entirely truthful, but...

HBolte
09-12-2014, 03:55 AM
Probably most people here would be more likely to get more upset if you indulged in the USA custom of asking for a tip than they would if someone is busking, panhandling or begging. Here asking for a tip is very close to begging. How many people reading this rely on tips for their income, and can you explain why begging is any different to asking for a tip in many circumstances? Sure the tipping is part of the "system" and allows employers to underpay you by a lot, which just increases your reliance on the tips, but the customer has paid the amount on the invoice and you are still asking for a further unspecified amount of money to support your family, not unlike many beggars.
Anyway, the idea of setting a goal to be able to busk successfully with a ukulele act is very interesting and could be a useful inspiration.

What do you mean by the "USA custom of asking for a tip?" I have lived here most of my life and have never been asked for a tip. I do tip in restaurants here I also tip in restaurants when I am in Australia.

SteveZ
09-12-2014, 04:41 AM
Damn, dude, I mean no disrespect, but I think you've missed the point. If someone tosses a dollar or a quarter or whatever into your case because they enjoyed your playing, it doesn't instantly make you a professional because you accepted the money and that you need to declare it as income for tax purposes.

Would you expect a teenager that babysits a couple nights a week to file a tax return on their earnings? Or an old lady who does laundry for a neighbor that doesn't have a washer/dryer for less than it would cost said neighbor to go to a laundromat?

The same here - no disrespect intended.

It all goes goes back to a simple question - Would the busker stand on the corner again and again performing if NO money ever was collected? If it's the expectation of "pay" and not the desire to bring artistic joy , then the busker is indeed a self-employed service provider. There are folk on this forum who routinely go to nursing homes, hospices, etc. and perform publicly for the joy of it (giving and receiving). Again, would the busker busk if no money ever was "donated?"


...]and I have never asked anyone for money or favors. I have my case open and if someone wants to donate money to me I will accept it.

Why is the case open? It's an implied solicitation for money and expectation that money will be "donated," otherwise it wouldn't be left open in a convenient spot for receiving "donations." That makes it "playing for pay" rather than "art for art's sake" as the volunteers going to hospitals and such do.


Should we tax all street performers. Hell no, its a pure donation based system. If we as a society want to tax all donations and every single transactions, then lets start with all the major churches who are purchasing mansions and private jets from donations made by their followers.

Ironically, no group is more regulated and placed under very strict accounting standards than the churches and non-profits, and their employees pay income taxes just like the rest if us.

My comments aren't out to condemn, but rather to explain why many folk see busking differently than many buskers do. Like it or not, every "industry" is regulated in some fashion, and the more in-your-face in-public an industry (industry defined in this case as money expected and received for service/product) is, the greater scrutiny it will get. The busker who expects "freedom of expression" combined with an expectation of renumeration (why is the case/can/hat open in front?) is indeed a self-employed entrepreneur applying a time-tested marketing approach for his/her services.

And again it brings us back to the first question - busking or begging? If the busker expects no regulation, no taxing, no control and says it's "free speech" (with an open case) and pockets the money for personal use, then it's begging.

coolkayaker1
09-12-2014, 04:55 AM
There used to be fellow in the Boston subway that, every morning during rush hour, used to play his saxophone. A freaking saxophone! Ever hear a saxophone in a subway tunnel?

Busker, beggar, whatever he was, seemed everyone wanted him to just go home. If he'd have placed a sign that read, "Give me a dollar and I'll go home" he would have been rich.:) And he actually played pretty well.

coolkayaker1
09-12-2014, 04:57 AM
And again it brings us back to the first question - busking or begging? If the busker expects no regulation, no taxing, no control and says it's "free speech" (with an open case) and pockets the money for personal use, then it's begging. Yes. (Ten characters minimum to post, so again, yes).

Rllink
09-12-2014, 07:14 AM
This thread is very interesting. I'm glad that I brought it up. While busking was one of my goals, mainly because it would take me way out of my comfort zone, I wonder what would happen if I just stood on the street corner playing my uke, case closed and behind me somewhere? Would people put money on the ground?

I am an artist. I do pencil drawings, charcoal drawings, and watercolors. I took up art as something to do after I retired, and have been doing it for some time. I've been offered money for some of my drawings and paintings, but I just give them away. My thought is that if I sell my art, then I am producing art that is marketable, not creating art for art's sake. So to stay an artist, I'm not willing to sell myself. Last year, during the San Sebastian Festival in Old San Juan, there were a couple of buskers who set up right across the street from my apartment. We were all sitting out there on lawn chairs taking it easy, so and enjoying watching the people going by. At one point I called across the street and asked them if they wanted a beer, and they said that they would. So I took them each over one. They seemed to like that a lot, and they stayed there a long time playing. They even took a break and came over and sat on the curb with us. In fact, they probably planted the seed that led to me taking up the ukulele. So when I think about it, what would be the reason to put out the case? Why not just play for the enjoyment of anyone who wants to listen? In fact, it might be fun to put the case out with a sign saying, "no money please, but I will take a beer." I don't know, just make it fun in some way.

Ukulele Eddie
09-12-2014, 07:26 AM
My thought is that if I sell my art, then I am producing art that is marketable, not creating art for art's sake. So to stay an artist, I'm not willing to sell myself.

There wouldn't be much art in the world if everyone felt this way. A lot of great Flemish painters survived (even if meagerly) with money from commissioned portraits. I don't think anybody would say they weren't artists. I don't think there is anything wrong with profiting from one's art. "Selling out" is usually used to describe when somebody creates something they don't truly believe in only to make (more) money. But if that's what it takes to keep a roof overhead and food on the table, so one can continue to produce "true" art then maybe it's not such a bad means to an end...

Ukejenny
09-12-2014, 07:48 AM
Be warned... you never know who these buskers are... For instance, the following:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnOPu0_YWhw

Edited to add the video description: Will one of the nation's greatest violinists be noticed in a D.C. Metro stop during rush hour? Joshua Bell experimented for Gene Weingarten's story in The Washington Post: http://wpo.st/-vP (Video by John W. Poole)

SteveZ
09-12-2014, 08:04 AM
Then if you really want to have a real experience, go out and beg for money where ever you can. You will find that it is actually easier to make money begging, I know because I tried it before as well. Yes people will think you are homeless or on drugs, and they will treat you with no respect as if you were less than human. They will run from you as if you have ebola, or just give you money so that you can go away. Then right after your done begging for a couple of days, go and perform some music in the same area, and take note of how people treat you.

This really explains itself. Folk's attitude change based on their perceptions.

With the beggar, there can be at times very little compassion for someone who appears that could get work (maybe not the kind of work they want, but work regardless). If the compassion happens, it's out of sympathy.

For the same person busking, the perception is one of an individual who, rather than just stand there with a hand out, actually tries to do something in exchange for money - and that makes the performance the individual's job - real work. The person who works for the money being put in case/pail/hat has empathy for another person working at their job and providing a service (in this case, the art) to the other and sees the busker as a fellow worker rather than a charity case.

So, is money being received from folk in the work-world coming out of sympathy or empathy? If the latter, then it's work wages.

Jon Moody
09-12-2014, 08:05 AM
My thought is that if I sell my art, then I am producing art that is marketable, not creating art for art's sake. So to stay an artist, I'm not willing to sell myself.

As someone that has made their living either by graphic design or music for the past 15 years, I am going to politely disagree. Part of being a professional, working artist is also being a small business owner and entrepreneur and knowing what is marketable. It's also finding that happy balance between what fulfills you artistically and what supports you financially. This is what a lot of people that are merely artists by hobby (and there is NOTHING wrong with that!) don't understand, and are floored that I'm doing gigs to get paid, and not because I just enjoy them (which I'm at the stage now that I can pick only things I enjoy).

Me creating a logo for a company is not selling out, nor is backing a singer at a gig performing music that I didn't write making me less of an artist.

Rllink
09-12-2014, 08:36 AM
As someone that has made their living either by graphic design or music for the past 15 years, I am going to politely disagree. Part of being a professional, working artist is also being a small business owner and entrepreneur and knowing what is marketable. It's also finding that happy balance between what fulfills you artistically and what supports you financially. This is what a lot of people that are merely artists by hobby (and there is NOTHING wrong with that!) don't understand, and are floored that I'm doing gigs to get paid, and not because I just enjoy them (which I'm at the stage now that I can pick only things I enjoy).

Me creating a logo for a company is not selling out, nor is backing a singer at a gig performing music that I didn't write making me less of an artist.I apologize if I offended anyone by my statements. I did not intend to. You are quite right, art and music are just a hobby for me. Frankly, everything is a hobby to me anymore. I have been blessed, and I am at a point in my life where I don't have to make a living anymore, and my views and opinions of things are sometimes a little slanted that direction. I did not mean to imply that professional artists and musicians are "selling out", even if, when I go back and read it, that is what it sounds like. That is very much a personal view of myself and it does not go beyond that.

lindydanny
09-12-2014, 08:59 AM
I'm getting into the topic a bit late. I'll admit that I only scanned the previous entries...

My understanding is that pan handling is asking for money without any sort of service or art involved. The "squeegee kids" aren't technically panhandling or busking. I'm not sure what I would call them, but I do know that touching someone's car without their permission would be deemed vandalism in most municipalities.

Artists who are painting, chalking, or standing fall within the using category if for no other reason than they are "performing" similar to musicians.

As for the first amendment rights, I've always found this funny (in a sad way). I remember talking with a European friend who busked and he said that it is an assumed right in almost every European country to do so. In fact, many cultures in Europe (Gypsies and Roma) derive a considerable amount of their economy from this.

But, here in the United States, many if not most municipalities have laws governing the when, where, and how of true busking (and most of them do not discern between busking and pan-handling). The argument for free speech and the first amendment does NOT work (I know from personal experience). Not because it isn't true, but because those who make and enforce those laws are unwilling or unable to debate or consider it's constitutionality.

In my neck of the woods, Kansas City, we have a wonderful City Market near down town (one of many now) and you can busk there. As long as you do it at designated areas and you register before hand with the organization that runs the City Market. The laws in KC are actually written specifically to address most of the shopping districts (City Market, Plaza, Zona Rosa, Briar Cliff, etc). The issue for a lot of it becomes a consideration of what is public and what is private property. Streets, sidewalks, and parks are public property and you can argue first amendment rights (though it doesn't always work). However, parking lots, sidewalks owned by a corporation (for instance the sidewalk in front of Wal-Mart), and entire developments are considered private property, but also areas of public accommodation.

That public accommodation (PA) part is curious to me, because PA is where a considerable amount of civil rights law is aimed. Places of PA include retail establishments, golf clubs, bars, restaurants, churches, etc. I can see where it would not be good to have someone playing music or protesting for that matter at at place of PA like a restaurant without the permission of the owner/management. But, so much of busking is done in places of PA that it begs the question why it is not included in busking laws to allow it.

A huge problem with why so much of the municipal codes are written the way they are also has to do with Copyrights. It is impossible for ASCAP to go after live performers since copyright laws are most aimed at venues, not live artists (it is different when you cut a CD... artists are on the hook there). So, if you are in a public place playing a copyrighted song, how would ASCAP bill you for that? So, many of the organizations like ASCAP get involved in the legislative process for busking.

Bottom line is that until enough musicians and artists get behind a movement to change busking into a protected activity and right (as it should be per the first amendment), the laws will likely not change.

~Danny

KaijuEmily
09-12-2014, 09:28 AM
OMG! That washington post article about Joshua Bell playing in a train station was amazing.

His Sinfulness
09-12-2014, 11:01 AM
So when I think about it, what would be the reason to put out the case?

A good question. One good reason is that the money that ends up in the case is a measure of sorts. Like applause, it shows that you are connecting with your audience on some level (even if it's just pity...). It gives the audience a way to say "thank you" and it gives you feedback on how your stuff is going over with the crowd.

There is also a special little thrill in going out to busk with a few friends, and then a few hours later buying a sandwich or a pizza with the money. It's hard to turn applause into pizza... Busking then eating with the proceeds actually feels like turning your hours of practice into food. There's nothing quite like it. :cool:

ukantor
09-12-2014, 12:11 PM
I have played in public places, but never expected anyone to drop money. If I have to kill time, and have my uke with me, I'll play and sing - just for myself. I never try to connect with the passers by, but they will often smile, or comment, or wave. It has always been a positive experience.

On one occasion, my wife was meeting a friend in Cambridge (the university city in England). I left them together, and sat in a nearby park playing. I didn't realise that I was on a major route taken by guided tours. A group of overseas visitors trouped by and became very animated when they saw me. They came over and listened, asked me about the uke, posed for photos with me, and after much smiling and waving, they were rounded up by the guides and shepherded down the street. It amused me to think of their holiday photos including an old Englishman in a park, playing a yellow Mahalo ukulele.

John Colter.

Ukejenny
09-12-2014, 12:11 PM
"to stay an artist, I'm not willing to sell myself."

I cannot agree with this line of thinking. Brain surgery is an art. Landscaping is an art. Cooking is an art. Teaching is an art. For many, in order to stay an artist, you must be willing to be compensated. Even Mozart had to eat.

chefuke
09-12-2014, 02:05 PM
I cannot agree with this line of thinking. Brain surgery is an art. Landscaping is an art. Cooking is an art. Teaching is an art. For many, in order to stay an artist, you must be willing to be compensated. Even Mozart had to eat.

I am a chef since 27 years but consider myself a craftsman - artists in kitchens are usually the ones tha last a few weeks. Brainsurgeons are not artists either in my view - the brain is a given to get creative during an operation could be a disaster.

Rllink
09-12-2014, 02:49 PM
I cannot agree with this line of thinking. Brain surgery is an art. Landscaping is an art. Cooking is an art. Teaching is an art. For many, in order to stay an artist, you must be willing to be compensated. Even Mozart had to eat.A few posts ago I tried to explain myself. I was not projecting that statement on other people, I was just talking about myself.

Dwjkerr
09-12-2014, 02:49 PM
Quote Originally Posted by SteveZ View Post

And again it brings us back to the first question - busking or begging? If the busker expects no regulation, no taxing, no control and says it's "free speech" (with an open case) and pockets the money for personal use, then it's begging.[/quote]


Yes. (Ten characters minimum to post, so again, yes).

Perhaps but even a lousy toy drum butcher is more apt to get something from me than some one who just sits on a sidewalk beside a cap

CeeJay
09-12-2014, 03:09 PM
Well..I think busking is more honest...if you don't like it you don't have to pay ...buy tickets to a crappy show ...you are stuck with it ....

pritch
09-12-2014, 04:18 PM
An interesting read. I loved the story about the eccentric millionaire.

The Washington Post story "Pearls Before Breakfast" won a Pulitzer, I read it when it came out a few years ago, might have to visit it again. If you haven't read it consider doing so, it's of interest to anybody who plays strings, although we may not all play like Joshua Bell. :-)

Many buskers hereabout seem to be students. I feel sorry for them in a way because where I live we are very close to being a cashless society. Most people passing the buskers won't be carrying cash. The only place I regularly have cash is the tray in the car that holds coins for parking.

estreya
09-12-2014, 05:26 PM
Cyndi Lauper started out as a busker, i do believe ... and she's probably not alone.

chefuke
09-12-2014, 06:05 PM
Cyndi Lauper started out as a busker, i do believe ... and she's probably not alone.

John Butler financed his first album wth busking.

coolkayaker1
09-12-2014, 06:14 PM
Many buskers hereabout seem to be students. I feel sorry for them in a way because where I live we are very close to being a cashless society. Most people passing the buskers won't be carrying cash. The only place I regularly have cash is the tray in the car that holds coins for parking.

This is the benefit of a forum: points one would never have thought about in their own. Great point about near cashless society and how it might affect buskers and others who deal in cash. Thought-provoking. Thank you.

coolkayaker1
09-12-2014, 06:16 PM
John Butler financed his first album wth busking.

Which leads to an interesting corollary: Is Kickstarting for an album busking, begging, or neither? Hmm.

chefuke
09-12-2014, 06:20 PM
Which leads to an interesting corollary: Is Kickstarting for an album busking, begging, or neither? Hmm.

The mind boggles.. Depends how you kickstart, with busking or begging...

itsme
09-12-2014, 07:34 PM
... where I live we are very close to being a cashless society. Most people passing the buskers won't be carrying cash. The only place I regularly have cash is the tray in the car that holds coins for parking.
In L.A., the newer parking meters accept credit/debit cards. Some areas charge enough that you can't conceivably carry enough quarters to stay for more than a few minutes. $5/hr. is a lot of quarters!

chefuke
09-12-2014, 07:43 PM
So the city council could hand out portable debit machines to the buskers in return for a fee and tax the earnings cleanly.

willisoften
09-12-2014, 09:54 PM
I don't object to busking, but I never really stopped to listen to one either.
There is guy who sits playing opposite Cafe Nero, I often hoped he would be arrested by music loving coppers.
Recently he aquired an amplifier, seriously I've changed my coffee shop.
I donate occasionally but more likely to the homeless guy, or alcoholic with the performing dog (there but for the grace of God ...)

jcarlos
09-13-2014, 12:42 AM
This really explains itself. Folk's attitude change based on their perceptions.

With the beggar, there can be at times very little compassion for someone who appears that could get work (maybe not the kind of work they want, but work regardless). If the compassion happens, it's out of sympathy.

For the same person busking, the perception is one of an individual who, rather than just stand there with a hand out, actually tries to do something in exchange for money - and that makes the performance the individual's job - real work. The person who works for the money being put in case/pail/hat has empathy for another person working at their job and providing a service (in this case, the art) to the other and sees the busker as a fellow worker rather than a charity case.

So, is money being received from folk in the work-world coming out of sympathy or empathy? If the latter, then it's work wages.

I see your stance form your last two replies, its not always about money. Your responding as if its a necessity to go out and be a street performer, so necessary that you would call it work. Its not work. Where in turn most beggars and homeless are doing out of a necessity. I've had some homeless men tell me that its their job to go out and beg, its how they survive. What you want to tax the homeless man's measly $300 a year income too? I've discussed this topic with folks who believe that every human is offering some sort of service with everything they do and should have a paper trail for every little transaction....Are you one of those people Steve? If I held a door open for a lady and she bought me a beer. Does that mean I am a working doorman and I have to tell the feds that she bought me a beer, not as gesture of appreciation but as payment for opening the door for her. "Hey lady, thanks for paying my wages as a doorman with a $7 beer. Here's a tax form."... That's pure nonsense and a terrible way to look at life. Like I said I've had this discussion before with several folks and we will always disagree. We can argue for weeks, months, we just don't agree.There's nothing to discuss if we disagree.You see it as work, I don't. Some cities agree with you, some don't, I'll keep performing in the cities and countries that allow it and respect it as an artistic act of self expression, because that's exactly what it is.


A good question. One good reason is that the money that ends up in the case is a measure of sorts. Like applause, it shows that you are connecting with your audience on some level (even if it's just pity...). It gives the audience a way to say "thank you" and it gives you feedback on how your stuff is going over with the crowd.

There is also a special little thrill in going out to busk with a few friends, and then a few hours later buying a sandwich or a pizza with the money. It's hard to turn applause into pizza... Busking then eating with the proceeds actually feels like turning your hours of practice into food. There's nothing quite like it. :cool:

This is exactly the case, no one is getting rich from busking, compared to an actual job, you make dirt. Most of the time you can make some beer money or pizza money and then be on your way.


Which leads to an interesting corollary: Is Kickstarting for an album busking, begging, or neither? Hmm.

Its fundraising. You can argue that its begging, but its definitely not a live performance of any kind, its a website designed specifically to collect money for projects.

---------------------------

I would also like to add that I've met some incredible people on my travels through being a street performer, and I wouldn't change any of that because of someone else being judgmental about the subject matter. Nor am I going to stop I'm young and have the means to travel at the moment so I am seizing the opportunity to do so. Sharing my life through art and music wherever I travel to, no amount of money or lack of money from performing will change the amazing experiences that I have had being a street performer. I've gravitated to the stage more in the past years but I don't think I will stop being a street performer anytime soon, maybe when I get older, but just have to wait and see haha. These guys were still doing it at 40

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gK-oV8g3Y1A

chefuke
09-13-2014, 12:54 AM
Beautiful..........

UncleMoon
09-13-2014, 02:31 AM
Well..I think busking is more honest...if you don't like it you don't have to pay ...buy tickets to a crappy show ...you are stuck with it ....

Exactly. I spent a little more than $150 for me & my wife to see BB King in May. When he played he was good as ever, but here's how the show went: spent most of the time talk with a lady in the front row; lost track of where he was a couple times; played the same song twice (well.. about halfway through the second time he waved the band down and said "we already played this... then went on to ramble for another 10 minutes); I think he only played 6 songs including "You are my sunshine". I can't remember the last time I felt so cheated.

anthonyg
09-13-2014, 02:39 AM
Busking is hard work. I just started busking again after a winter hiatus. I've tried to busk in winter before. I was freezing my butt off (Canberra is COLD in winter) and no one was tipping me anyway. The beggars don't like me (we are kind of in competition for good spots) so I guess I'm not a beggar. I only do 1 1/2 hour sessions. After that I'm too tense and lose my rhythm.

The tax man does NOT want to know about your income from busking. Seriously. If the tax man accepts your declaration of income from busking then the tax man is also obligated to allow you to claim all your equipment and consumables as expenses. Maybe if your make a LOT of money from busking and its your full time job then the tax man wants to know but otherwise don't sweat it. Its just hobby income and the tax man doesn't want to allow claims for equipment from every backyard hobbyist who is making a few thousand dollars a year from their hobby. This is how it goes in Australia anyway.

Anthony

WCBarnes
09-13-2014, 02:58 AM
The tax man does NOT want to know about your income from busking. Seriously. If the tax man accepts your declaration of income from busking then the tax man is also obligated to allow you to claim all your equipment and consumables as expenses.
Anthony

That's a new twist... I may become a busker, report my earnings, and declare my business expenses. Government supported UAS!!

anthonyg
09-13-2014, 03:24 AM
That's a new twist... I may become a busker, report my earnings, and declare my business expenses. Government supported UAS!!

Yes. This is why the tax man is happy to turn a blind eye to income such as busking. There will be a threshold. The threshold will vary but its more than say, $5000. If your making good money elsewhere and you think that it would be nice to write off your ukulele purchases because you made some money busking then the tax man will likely disallow it outright. You should check your local tax laws but honestly, don't get flustered about yourself/someone else earning a few thousand dollars a year busking.

Anthony

gardens_guitar
09-13-2014, 04:24 AM
If someone tosses a dollar or a quarter or whatever into your case because they enjoyed your playing, it doesn't instantly make you a professional because you accepted the money and that you need to declare it as income for tax purposes.

Even when you're considered a contractor under a 1099, you don't get one til you've hit $600/yr.

I prepare taxes for a living. In each of the above scenarios, the person (assuming the USA) has to report the income and pay any income and self-employment (Social Security plus Medicare - both the employer and employee portion.

A payor does not have to issue a 1099-MISC to a contractor if the amount is under $600 but the payee must report. A bank does not have to issue a 1099-INT if the interest for the year is below $10 but the amount will be on your December statement and you are supposed to report it - even if it is only $1.00.

The US Internal Revenue Code requires all income to be reported. You might not have to file a return if all of your income is less than your personal exemption and standard deduction amounts.

Gifts are not reportable income to the recipient but receiving money in exchange for providing entertainment is not a gift - it is reportable income. Assuming the entertainer is not incorporated, the income and all associated expenses are reported on Form 1040 Schedule C. The net amount determines the income and self-employment taxes.

SteveZ
09-13-2014, 04:45 AM
I see your stance form your last two replies, its not always about money. Your responding as if its a necessity to go out and be a street performer, so necessary that you would call it work. Its not work. Where in turn most beggars and homeless are doing out of a necessity. I've had some homeless men tell me that its their job to go out and beg, its how they survive. What you want to tax the homeless man's measly $300 a year income too? I've discussed this topic with folks who believe that every human is offering some sort of service with everything they do and should have a paper trail for every little transaction....Are you one of those people Steve? If I held a door open for a lady and she bought me a beer. Does that mean I am a working doorman and I have to tell the feds that she bought me a beer, not as gesture of appreciation but as payment for opening the door for her. "Hey lady, thanks for paying my wages as a doorman with a $7 beer. Here's a tax form."... That's pure nonsense and a terrible way to look at life. Like I said I've had this discussion before with several folks and we will always disagree. We can argue for weeks, months, we just don't agree.There's nothing to discuss if we disagree.You see it as work, I don't. Some cities agree with you, some don't, I'll keep performing in the cities and countries that allow it and respect it as an artistic act of self expression, because that's exactly what it is.

The busking/begging questions is one which transcends the legal and the moral, both of which bend with the times and locale. The moral viewpoint tends to lean to the liberal, the legal towards the conservative.

It's easy to see busking from the moral side - 1) it's been done forever, 2) there's all kinds of it, 3) the cash quantum is insignificant (to the payer and possibly the receiver), and 4) when done with consideration for others it can complement a dull area.

The hard part is to see busking from the legal side. First of all, there would be no legal side if all buskers adhered to 4) above. Almost all regulation occurs because 1-10% of those who do something do it without concern for others and see things as "I want to do it and don't care if it interferes with you when I do." All requirements for permits, licensing, quiet-time, location restrictions and such occur because a minority of buskers are rude and self-centered. As a result, and it happens everywhere in society, the majority get penalized because of the actions of a minority.

Will buskers be taxed? Probably never, as the enforcement will cost more than the collected revenue. However, I stand by my view that busking for money is indeed self-employment even if income isn't taxed (I hate income taxes, period!), no different than the amateur potter who occasionally sells one of his/her creations at an art show. As soon as money changes hands, commerce occurs (also a time-immemorial reality, older than "art") . If the artist uses the "donation" for his/her personal use, then it's not "applause" but earned revenue. However, if the artist further donates the donation, then the artist is an unpaid catalyst for others (e.g., Farm Aid, Telethon, church bake sale, etc.).

The perception of being a beggar instantly arises when the busker acts like the inconsiderate neighbor - reducing a sidewalk walkway, hanging around a business' doorway, and generally acting in an in-your-face manner. Just because the artist wants to do something does not mean the general public must accommodate the artist's whims or art form. The artist who shoves him/herself in front of the public out of unwelcomed personal arrogance should expect to be treated as an interloper, and the "beggar" label or "unlicensed public vendor" label is society's legal response (better the legal response than vigilanteism). Ironically, most artists I know also expect others to respect the artists' privacy and desire to be left "unsolicited" and treat the general public the same way. Again, the minority's inconsiderate actions end up impacting the majority.

Is it "artistic act of self-expression" or a just a means of soliciting money when needed/wanted? The question again is whether one displays the art with the expectation of receiving funds or would do it if no money ever was or could be received?

gardens_guitar
09-13-2014, 06:06 AM
In my earlier post, I assumed that the artist was intent on making a profit, hence the need to file a Schedule C. If the artist is not intent on making a profit, then by the tax law they have a hobby. Gross hobby income is reported on Form 1040 line 21 Other Income. No deductions are taken on this line. The hobby income is not subject to Self-employment tax but it is subject to income tax.

Any expenses are taken on Form 1040 Schedule A, Itemized Deductions in the Miscellaneous Deductions section. If you do not itemize then you cannot deduct any expenses. If you do itemize, then your expenses cannot exceed your hobby income (line 21). Your expenses are then reduced by an amount equal to 2% of your AGI.

The only legal way to avoid paying tax on either hobby or business income is to have total income lower than the filing requirement.

The IRS may never find out about your income but failure to report it is a moral issue. Basically, if you don't pay then the rest of us have to pay more.

One bright spot. Someone posted earlier that they paid an entry fee to a fair and played for free. If the fair is run by a government agency or a 501c charity then the admission fee and any expenses related to the performance are deductible as cash charitable contributions on Schedule A (assuming you itemize). Just have good records of your expenses. You cannot deduct the value of your time to play or any lost revenue from not playing elsewhere.

chuck in ny
09-13-2014, 07:27 AM
michael johnathon on folk singing. 'you can make tens of dollars doing this'.
what can you say, day job.

lindydanny
09-13-2014, 07:54 AM
I am a chef since 27 years but consider myself a craftsman - artists in kitchens are usually the ones tha last a few weeks. Brainsurgeons are not artists either in my view - the brain is a given to get creative during an operation could be a disaster.

Since when are the words art and craft so separate? This is semantics at it's lowest form.

As a professional musician I am constantly improving my craft. And I don't think of it as art v. craft. The art is in the crafting. You get better at crafting in such a way that produces better art. Most folks in the music industry that I talk to use the term "craft" over "art". I cook too (not professionally) and I would easily attribute the action of cooking as crafting and the product (the meal) being art.


"to stay an artist, I'm not willing to sell myself."
I've seen a lot of "artists" say this. Artists who make a living realize that selling is a part of the business. It's fine for you to be an artist that doesn't sell, but you will need a day job and you will not get the same praise for your craft as those of us who do.

coolkayaker1
09-13-2014, 08:53 AM
I thought "art" was exclusively a paint brush and a canvas.;)

Rllink
09-13-2014, 09:17 AM
There is a young guy who is at the farmer's market all the time. I'm not sure if he is paid to be there and what gets thrown in the guitar case is tips, or if he pays to be there, or if he just sets up shop on the corner. I know that he also plays in a pretty popular local band and they get booked a lot around here. But I've talked to him before and told him that I admire his ability to put it all on the line like that and that my goal with the ukulele is to do exactly that. He told me a couple of weeks ago that if I set up, he will be the first one to throw a dollar in my case. I'm not there yet, but the seed is planted, and I think that I will do it eventually. I'm really thinking about the San Sebastian Festival in San Juan. It is right outside my door, so I can just walk out, find a spot, and go for it.

DownUpDave
09-13-2014, 09:25 AM
There is a young guy who is at the farmer's market all the time. I'm not sure if he is paid to be there and what gets thrown in the guitar case is tips, or if he pays to be there, or if he just sets up shop on the corner. I know that he also plays in a pretty popular local band and they get booked a lot around here. But I've talked to him before and told him that I admire his ability to put it all on the line like that and that my goal with the ukulele is to do exactly that. He told me a couple of weeks ago that if if set up, he will be the first one to throw a dollar in my case. I'm not there yet, but the seed is planted, and I think that I will do it eventually. I'm really thinking about the San Sebastian Festival in San Juan. It is right outside my door, so I can just walk out, find a spot, and go for it.

Very cool.

Your signature statement "When I get famous, everyone is going to want to be playing a Makala" might just become a reality. When you do become famous will you sign my lowly Koaloha for me :cool:

Ukejenny
09-13-2014, 05:43 PM
I am a chef since 27 years but consider myself a craftsman - artists in kitchens are usually the ones tha last a few weeks. Brainsurgeons are not artists either in my view - the brain is a given to get creative during an operation could be a disaster.

We all have our own views of what is and isn't art, who is and isn't an artist, our own views on everything (busking/begging...) Music, art, so much of it is very personal. It truly is in the eye of the beholder.

chefuke
09-13-2014, 07:11 PM
[QUOTE=lindydanny;1577250]Since when are the words art and craft so separate? This is semantics at it's lowest form.

As a professional musician I am constantly improving my craft. And I don't think of it as art v. craft. The art is in the crafting. You get better at crafting in such a way that produces better art. Most folks in the music industry that I talk to use the term "craft" over "art". I cook too (not professionally) and I would easily attribute the action of cooking as crafting and the product (the meal) being art.


I've seen a lot of "artists" say this. Artists who make a living realize that selling is a part of the business. It's fine for you to be an artist that doesn't sell, but you will need a day job and you will not get the same praise for your craft as those of us who do.[/QUOTE

I apologise if I offended you.

I was simply sharing my view on art in cooking/kitchens from my own experience.

Ultimately to me Art or whats not is an entirely personal view.

English is my third language (I grew up in the german part of Switzerland with parents speaking french at home) and I do lack subtlety at times. However thanks to modern technology aka spellcheck it appears better than it is.

itsme
09-13-2014, 08:21 PM
The IRS may never find out about your income but failure to report it is a moral issue. Basically, if you don't pay then the rest of us have to pay more.
How do you pay more if someone doesn't report a few bucks from busking? Several have said they'll use any proceeds to buy food or a beverage, thus pumping that money right back into the local economy.

And I'm sure everyone who buys something out of state voluntarily declares it on their state tax form so they can pay sales tax on it. :rolleyes:

Rllink
09-14-2014, 05:37 AM
The only legal way to avoid paying tax on either hobby or business income is to have total income lower than the filing requirement.

The IRS may never find out about your income but failure to report it is a moral issue. Basically, if you don't pay then the rest of us have to pay more.

I don't think that someone collecting a little cash on a street corner and pocketing it costs the rest of us any more in taxes, and if they did pay taxes on it, it certainly would not save anyone else a cent. In fact, I think that it is immoral of the government to extort the masses for everything they can take as it is.

SteveZ
09-14-2014, 05:46 AM
I don't think that someone collecting a little cash on a street corner and pocketing it costs the rest of us any more in taxes, and if they did pay taxes on it, it certainly would not save anyone else a cent. In fact, I think that it is immoral of the government to extort the masses for everything they cantake as it is.
Except for the fact that the "collective We" through our elected representatives is the government. But we digress. Tax nibbles happen everywhere.

It's been a few years since I worked there, but I remember when the District of Columbia Metro actually endorsed busking-by-permit outside selected Metro stations. It made a dull commute brighter for a few seconds as one exited the station.

Which brings the next question - what are some of the Do's and Don'ts for successful busking? By "successful" I mean the busker is actually welcomed at a locale by the immediate neighbors and encouraged to be there.

gardens_guitar
09-14-2014, 07:34 AM
How do you pay more if someone doesn't report a few bucks from busking? And I'm sure everyone who buys something out of state voluntarily declares it on their state tax form so they can pay sales tax on it. :rolleyes:

Regarding the last point first, two wrongs doesn't make either right or legal. If you support your original statement, then you shouldn't complain about music piracy since "everyone does it".

It isn't just the busking income. Just based on the discussion here, busking is rarely the only source of income. The effect of not reporting busking income, whether business or hobby, is to reduce total reported income and could have the following tax effects:

1. Not reporting the business income does not add to the buskers social security account and they escape paying into the fund. Since the fund is based on the current taxpayers paying the current retirees benefits, not paying the self-employment tax adds to the burden of every other worker.

2. Some posters imply that even with other income most musicians don't make a lot of money. However, not reporting busking income could raise the amount of the Earned Income Tax Credit they get. If that happens and the busker is caught, they could lose EIC for themselves and their families for up to ten years. Meanwhile, the rest of us have to pay for the illegally obtained extra credit.

3. Depending on the busker's filing status and number of dependents, not reporting the income could keep the busker in a lower tax bracket and they are not paying their legal "share". At the upper end, not reporting the income could prevent certain deduction limiting triggers, which means that they escape tax at the upper end.

And it goes on and on.

US law is very specific. With very few exceptions all income, whether the payor tell the IRS or not, is to be reported. And it must be reported unless you fall below the "not required to file" lboundary. Not doing so is tax cheating, whether you get caught or not.

“Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”
― Augustine of Hippo

“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.”
― Leo Tolstoy, A Confession