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robo
02-08-2010, 11:21 AM
no, this isn't a political action post. I was wondering if anyone here has ever played their uke on the street for money. I always see guitars and here in seattle i've seen pianos and drums (makeshift) and some brass and woodwind instruments but i've never seen ukulele. Is playing on the street for change acceptable for someone who has a real job but just wants some spare cash or should it be reserved for poor and needy? i am by no means good enough to "perform" in public but the thought crossed my mind. anyone have experience here?

captbaritone
02-08-2010, 11:32 AM
I have played a few times here in San Francisco. Both times I was not actually playing for money, but had my uke and was killing time, so I sat against a wall and started playing. I think I set out my empty coffee cup the first time. The first time, some older lady handed me two dollars and said, in a deeply concerned voice, "Take care of yourself". Later some woman tried to offer me a loaf of bread she had. I politely declined.

The second time, I had no cup out and a guy gave me a dollar because he knew the obscure song I was playing.

Neither were in particularly busy places, and I was not playing very extrovertedly nor did I play for very long. I am sure I could make more if I was interested.

I also am curious about the ethics of a non-needy person busking.

paraclete
02-08-2010, 11:36 AM
My partner and I busked down at the local farmer's market over last summer.... uke and fiddle. I think that members of the local uke club also did some busking to raise money to buy ukes to send to kids in Guatamala or something like that.

Busking (playing for tips) isn't a "poor and needy" kind of thing, although some of that goes on. The best of the street musicians are a wide cross-section of people, from starving artists to established musicians just practicing their performance chops, having fun, whatever. Sometimes it's music students looking to raise money for a new instrument or band camp.

Why did Paraclete (our duo) go busking? Public exposure, playing experience, musical contribution to the ambiance, spare cash for going to the golf driving range, and maybe some of it was just to find out what it was like to stand out on a sidewalk in a crowd and try to draw attention to ourselves. It was fun. And there is nothing like public performing to help you get a sense of what you're doing right and what needs more work. ;)


Oh, the other thing was that we actually had to pay to have a permit to busk at the market.

Ron
02-08-2010, 01:12 PM
The Ukes of Hazard busk regularly at our local Saturday market. I'd hardly played in public at all the first time we did it and it was great for my confidence.
I think the punters actually like that we're NOT: some kid playing Bod Dylan songs on his guitar: some guy playing violin/pan pipes/harmonica to a recorded backing track of elevator music; some hippy sitting cross legged and playing the bloody digeridoo. They smile (as everyone seems to) at the ukes and seem generally delighted by the idea of public ukesposure. I think busking is just another form of public perfomance, the uke is ideally suited and no one HAS to listen to you! The fact you're NOT begging and ARE doing something a bit more interesting will set you apart from most other buskers.

I try to do a bit of interaction to try and get the crowd to stop a miunute and listen (and therefore feel they have to drop something in the case ;-). So we churn out the hoary old busking jokes: "requests on the back of a $50, please" "kids - if your parents don't give you at least five dollars to put in the hat it means they don't love you" and as we catch people's eyes we indicate that it is actually ok to stop and listen (New Zealanders will always sit as far away from a performer as they can and it takes a bit to get them to openly show appreciation). We don't make much money but it's really good for my playing to bang through the 30 or so songs we know without stopping when I make mistakes.
The other venue we've sorted is a local cafe with an outside seating area. They give us a free beer and sometimes lunch and we play for free and pout the hat out. I put a sign on it to let diners know we're open to donations and we can make as much doing that as standing at the market - also it's cooler in the shade and we can sit. It's also more "background" which suits our quieter stuff and gets me used to playing in an environment where most people actually aren't listening.
I'm thinking of hiring a five year old to spruke for us after each song - no one can resist a kid asking for money......

captbaritone
02-08-2010, 01:38 PM
I'm thinking of hiring a five year old to spruke for us after each song - no one can resist a kid asking for money......

Hire? Why hire when you can make your own. I think I saw a website with some very descriptive DIY instructions...

/jest

Ron
02-08-2010, 01:41 PM
Hire? Why hire when you can make your own. I think I saw a website with some very descriptive DIY instructions...

/jest

ah, yeah....did that 22 years ago. It's bit like punk music...I kinda feel I've been there, done that....:-)

GreatGazukes
02-08-2010, 07:54 PM
Is playing on the street for change acceptable for someone who has a real job but just wants some spare cash or should it be reserved for poor and needy?

I dont think all people who give money for buskers are thinking "they are poor", but appreciate a degree of joy being imbued in a grim city environment. Well that was my thinking when the bagpiper started on a hot day in the city. A sublime moment for me which I was happy to encourage with a $10 donation. Alleviating the mundane, bring it on.

Kanaka916
02-08-2010, 07:59 PM
no, this isn't a political action post. I was wondering if anyone here has ever played their uke on the street for money. I always see guitars and here in seattle i've seen pianos and drums (makeshift) and some brass and woodwind instruments but i've never seen ukulele. Is playing on the street for change acceptable for someone who has a real job but just wants some spare cash or should it be reserved for poor and needy? i am by no means good enough to "perform" in public but the thought crossed my mind. anyone have experience here?

Here's is one thread (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?19195) about busking and there are several other links in the thread.

robo
02-09-2010, 09:40 AM
i didn't know this had a name. thanks for the input everyone. it is really interesting to hear people's experiences.

Swampy Steve
02-09-2010, 09:53 AM
I really want to do this. Dont know enough songs right now though. Downtown Hou, stinks for busking though. Ive tried it with a NA flute, or maybe it was just me :)

Ukuleleblues
02-12-2010, 11:59 AM
Most cities you have to buy a license..or be ready to haul aZZ if the cops show up. It's a real good way to get better and find out how to perform, it's called Busking, search for it. Down in Charleston SC a tourist town, you have to pay $6 for conceptual approval of what you are going to do then your license is based on your estimated income. The cheapest was $80. Also they assign you where you can play. Might get Cracktown or Yuppie richville. Call up your city. I play like this for free just for fun.

DogBisquit
02-12-2010, 01:04 PM
Wow, I just found a job!
Now I've really gotta get my chops up.

duster bunny
02-12-2010, 01:33 PM
The world class violinist Joshua Bell busked in the DC metro and made 32 bucks with a 3.5 million dollar Stradivarius.
http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/bell.asp
My city, San Antonio, doesnt't permit busking, but mariachi groups play for tips in all the touristy downtown Mexican restaurants.
Their rhythm instrument, the vihuela mexicana, is actually uke-like, a 5 string re-entrant tuned small guitar with a round segmented back
and tied on frets. For a 5 dollar tip, they will stop playing trumpets point-blank at your head and move to another table.

itsme
02-12-2010, 01:42 PM
Down in Charleston SC a tourist town, you have to pay $6 for conceptual approval of what you are going to do then your license is based on your estimated income. The cheapest was $80. Also they assign you where you can play. Might get Cracktown or Yuppie richville. Call up your city. I play like this for free just for fun.
That's bizarre. I could maybe understand a permit, but not an $80 minimum license based on "estimated income" and then they tell you where you can play.


The world class violinist Joshua Bell busked in the DC metro and made 32 bucks with a 3.5 million dollar Stradivarius.
http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/bell.aspI was just going to post about that but you beat me to it. :)

Here's the original article:

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

ZajkoSK
11-25-2010, 08:49 AM
Hi,

I am new here so first of all nice to meet you, this is amazing site :D (Sorry for my english, Iīm from Europe, Slovakia)
we donīt have ukulele teachers niether players here so mostly I am learning all by using stuff from this site (thanks)
and to the topic, I played the piano and guitar on the streets, not for money just for fun with friends and for like...desire to share with people ? :D

ichadwick
11-27-2010, 10:46 AM
Is playing on the street for change acceptable for someone who has a real job but just wants some spare cash or should it be reserved for poor and needy?
Busking is both a profession and a hobby. If you feel confident enough, do it. But check to see if you need a licence first. Most municipalities require one.

PS. Seems your shift-key isn't working properly. Might want to get a new keyboard.

Hippie Dribble
11-27-2010, 11:17 AM
hi robo

I've done a lot of busking over the years here in tassie, mainly with an acoustic guitar and harmonica, but since I took up uke a few years back, I've been out a number of times with the uke.

People seem to love it...it's got that little bit of extra novelty factor, as opposed to the "oh not another guitarist" response...I've found that it is a great conversation starter with passers by, and I have taught people songs with 3 chords on the spot.

It's a real joy to do...just gotta make sure you've got thick skin for the "too cool for school" teenager set who want to make fun of you,, and also pick a spot that best amplifies the volume of your voice and instrument.

And about the licence issue...15 years ago you were allowed to do it for free, but more recently, they've passed council legislation here where you must pay a $5 fee for a licence each session you do. I think this is a naked money-making scheme and bureaucracy gone mad, but there you have it.

ricdoug
11-27-2010, 12:14 PM
There's a famous Seattle ukulele busker:

http://www.howlinhobbit.com/

If amplification's allowed in your area here's many pages of reviews of battery powered amplification:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?5333-Battery-powered-ukulele-amplification...

There's an online FREE E-Mail course, that has a lot of good info. It also is a teaser 5 PDF books with a lot of valuable instruction and songlists that are good material for prosperous busking. I bought the E-Books, after the FREE 5 part course:

http://www.buskerworld.com/

Here in North County San Diego, California local farmer's markets, street faires and art walks give free spaces for buskers and encourage tipping. It draws passers by into the local merchants and street venders. Here's a few of my setups:

http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/RolandAmp1.JPG

http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/RolandAmp2.JPG

http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/RolandAmp6.JPG

http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/RolandAmp3.JPG

ricdoug
11-27-2010, 12:21 PM
Last night I played solo for three hours at the Carlsbad Village Art Walk. It's usually the last Thursday of the month, but moves to Black Friday due to Thanksgiving in Novembers. Lot's more shoppers and tourists and the tips were good! :D

ukecantdothat
11-27-2010, 01:30 PM
I once went down to the Santa Monica pier to shoot some clips for a video response on YouTube. It was a cover of "Santa Monica" by a punk band from Santa Monica, Italy called Joe The Rodeo Clown (check them out - they have some cool uke versions of their stuff). I had a tripod set up with the camera, and while I was strumming away, some people came up and dropped some bills in my open case. I thanked them and gave it back, fearing I would get in trouble for performing without a permit. After that, I made sure the case wasn't sitting there open, made my clips and got the heck out! So, if you do it properly - get a permit (and a little amp...), I guess there's some coin to be made.

:music:

OldePhart
11-27-2010, 02:09 PM
I've never tried busking but I've considered it - I figure I could make a small fortune with an upturned hat and a little hand-lettered sign offering to play for change or stop playing for folding money. :)

Seriously, acceptance of busking seems to vary widely by region and city - some cities seem to go out of their way to be friendly to buskers while others can't seem to run folks off fast enough.

Where I live busking is pretty rare - but that may be as much due to the weather as anything. We go from highs of 102 to to highs of 40 in about three days, seems like...

John

ricdoug
11-27-2010, 04:58 PM
Wow, I just found a job!
Now I've really gotta get my chops up.

One could seriously make $1K to $4K a month locally working the community venues. I bagged over $200 bucks at one busking venue, but gave it to a homeless husband and wife at a freeway onramp. My wife was pi$$ed, but I knew it was the right thing to do at the time. Send an E-Mail to ricdoug @ yahoo dot com and I'll send you some money making tips, brother! Ric