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omnistegan
04-28-2010, 01:11 PM
Has anybody done it?
Do you regularly do it?
Does it work?
What do you play?
Any tips?

I recently got a busking pass for my town. There are a lot of buskers here, and a lot of them are pretty good. I'm not a great guitarist or ukuleleist (sp?) but I wonder if people will like seeing a busker on a uke.

I'm not sure what to play though. Most of the songs I know are either acoutic/classic rock. I also have a book that I'm learning of classical arrangements.

So what do you think? Most other buskers I see play Beatles/Elvis covers. Do you think a little Bach might open peoples wallets?

itsme
04-28-2010, 01:53 PM
Do you think a little Bach might open peoples wallets?
Well, Bach would certainly get my attention because I love classical. :) I think the thing about classical on the uke is that it's totally unexpected.

There's a guy in NYC who busks with a classical guitar by the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and draws quite a crowd. Then again, you might expect more classical aficianados in a museum-going crowd.

I think the best thing to do would be to work on a varied repertoire and see what "clicks" with the audience. I'm sure you'll get some requests, too, so make note of them.

How about "Stairway to Heaven" and some other fingerpicking songs people will recognize but not expect to hear on a uke?

Uncle Rod Higuchi
04-28-2010, 02:05 PM
When I go home to Hawaii, I like to get out on Waikiki sidewalks and busk.

I do it more to please the tourists than to make money.

there are tips and I do have a lauhala woven basket out, just in case.

However, I rarely make enough even for a cheap lunch.

I do get a lot of enjoyment (not to mention practice) by just playing the songs
in my songbook. It's made up of mostly old favorites, hapa-haole and Hawaiian
songs.

I even had the privilege of busking with James Hill! We played for about an hour
and had a great time. we "made" about $4. But hey, I busked with James Hill! Wow.

Hope you have a great time just having fun playing for passers-by, and making some
money to keep food in your tummy.

Keep uke-in',

Ron
04-28-2010, 02:25 PM
Has anybody done it?
Do you regularly do it?
Does it work?
What do you play?
Any tips?

Yup - we do.
We have done a bit standing in our local market and have progressed to regular spot at a cafe.
In our little town we can make about $15/hr each (two of us).
We found that street busking wasn't very successful. I think because there's no "cute" factor with two middle aged blokes singing.
But at the cafe there's a captive audience. The cafe gives us free coffee or beer and we put a hat out.
We ASK for the money. We have a sign that reads "Appreciative contributions gratefully accepted". We balso have cards and sign that reads "Please tyake a card". We've had two gigs through those cards.
We sit near the exit of the cafe garden so people have to walk past us on their way out.
We do an eclectic set of country, occassional dumb old pop songs and a few originals. Classical seesm a very good idea for this environment. On Saturdays after us a young woamn copmes in and plays classical violin and does very well.
Tips: smile and say thanks when people drop money. Make eye contact as they go past. ASK for the money either with a song or with announcements - I learned that off watching good jugglers and comic buskers. They gattyher the crowd before they strt and ask for the money at the end - often with a joke (if you liked the show just leave a note of appreciation on a $50 bill" "Kids if Mum doesn't give you at least $10 bucks to put in the hat it means she doesn't love you").

omnistegan
04-28-2010, 02:28 PM
I even had the privilege of busking with James Hill! We played for about an hour
and had a great time. we "made" about $4. But hey, I busked with James Hill! Wow.

That sounds like an experience. I just recently met James Hill. What a great musician! (and person)

itsme
04-28-2010, 03:41 PM
there are tips and I do have a lauhala woven basket out, just in case.
Or you can just leave your case open next to you and "seed" it with some coins and a dollar bill or two. :)

MoreUke
04-28-2010, 05:32 PM
There is a gent in the Seattle area he goes by the moniker "Howlin Hobbit." He hasn't been on UU lately but he does Twitter "HowlinHobbit" and has a website http://www.howlinhobbit.com/

I believe he lives solely off what he makes Busking. Nah that's not quite right. He is in a couple of groups and also gives lessons. But I think it is accurate to say he makes his living off music.

Have a Great Day,
Jim

Parlor Picker
04-29-2010, 01:01 AM
Check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Qx2_2ZCrZo

omnistegan
04-30-2010, 11:35 AM
Well, my first time ever busking didn't go so bad.
I'm not a super talented musician so I still get nervous singing/playing in front of people, but after a couple songs and friendly smiles from passers by I relaxed quite a bit.
A couple of times I forgot the chords to the song I was playing, or played something completely wrong, but hey, it's busking.
I only ever actually got any donations when I was strumming and singing. I did some fingerpicking, but I'm not very comfortable without looking at the music. (Is reading music appropriate for busking? I never see buskers do it, but I can only remember all the lyrics/chords/notes to a few songs)
Anyway, I played for about an hour and make about $5. But that's not the point anyway. I had fun! And people were interested to see someone playing a Uke.

Also, one more thing. My Uke doesn't have pegs (?) for a strap, so I brought a camping stool and played sitting down. Would it be better if I was standing? Should I (could I?) use a music stand? I usually associate reading music for someone busking with, say, a violin.

itsme
04-30-2010, 02:29 PM
Would it be better if I was standing? Should I (could I?) use a music stand? I usually associate reading music for someone busking with, say, a violin.
I think the advantage of standing is you can more around and face people that are showing some interest.

As far as a music stand, I see nothing wrong with it. You'll either want to put your sheets into a 3-ring binder or have some clips (clothespins will work) to keep things from blowing away.

sporter323
06-04-2012, 06:49 AM
That sounds like tons of fun!


When I go home to Hawaii, I like to get out on Waikiki sidewalks and busk.

I do it more to please the tourists than to make money.

there are tips and I do have a lauhala woven basket out, just in case.

However, I rarely make enough even for a cheap lunch.

I do get a lot of enjoyment (not to mention practice) by just playing the songs
in my songbook. It's made up of mostly old favorites, hapa-haole and Hawaiian
songs.

I even had the privilege of busking with James Hill! We played for about an hour
and had a great time. we "made" about $4. But hey, I busked with James Hill! Wow.

Hope you have a great time just having fun playing for passers-by, and making some
money to keep food in your tummy.

Keep uke-in',

PedalFreak
06-04-2012, 06:54 AM
A friend of mine does it. Makes around $80+ on a weekend, for about 3-4 hours of playing.

ItsMrPitchy
06-04-2012, 12:07 PM
A few buskers in the town near my college but havnt seen any ukes yet. BUt i rekon you might do well people like something they dont usually see.

drbekken
06-04-2012, 10:09 PM
Been a long time since I did any busking (maybe too long), but what I remember was that we always tried to find a spot where the sound would be good...up against walls that reverberated the sound etc... Busking was fun, so i wish you all the best!

bazmaz
06-04-2012, 11:10 PM
We busked yesterday - its huge fun. It's not about the money, it's about seeing people walk by smiling!

https://www.facebook.com/NantwichNukes

ukuleledaveey
06-05-2012, 12:45 AM
wow well done Baz :) i would love to give it ago one day when the old confidence kicks in, i did en mass for children in need, we raised over 450 in 2 hours and we got moved on by the shopping centre manager :)
But i would love to do a bit of busking as a duo or trio at some point,may try and coax some fellow uke club players of mine :)

His Sinfulness
06-05-2012, 01:04 AM
Busking is virtually unheard of here in Korea. Despite seeing people carrying guitars, violins, and cellos all over the place, I have never seen anyone playing in public, except the campus Christian kids singing hymns. I've been to major walking/market areas all over Seoul, Busan, Gunsan, Jeonju - it just doesn't happen here. :(

garyg
06-05-2012, 02:57 AM
My attitude towards busking is a bit different, probably because i have a secure day job and am older than lots of uke players (not according to one survey here). I've lived in the same small city for 30 years where I teach at a large university and frankly I'd be embarrassed to busk for money unless it's for a charity (that's a great idea). I'm fairly new to playing the uke but play and sing well enough to play with better musicians in a town that is full of well known professional bands (Widespread Panic, REM, Drive By Truckers, etc.). I doubt that buskers do well here because the implication is that you can't get a gig in one of the 40 local clubs, but you do see buskers downtown. In addition, there's lots of free music at Uni, etc. So my best advice would be to know your local culture and follow the words of wisdom of Baz, busk for the good karma and not for the $$. It also is good practice for performing onstage. You didn't put your address on your account so it's unclear where you live. If you haven't busked before you might think about playing a time or two at an "old folks" home or at an elementary school for practice. The closest that I have done to busking is playing outside my allergy Dr's office weekly for 30 minutes which is the waiting time necessary after my weekly allergy shot. I really do it mainly to practice and hardly anyone ever stops (they're going to the Dr. after all) but I do get lots of smiles, an occasional verbal compliment, and sometimes a car drives up and the people roll down their windows and listen. I figure that I've sweetened folk's day a bit by providing a present surprise on their way to a check-up. But I suppose my real point was to suggest that you not be too aggressive in your attempt to get money. At least in the States, times have been bad for most folks and we are hammered with requests for money. Every restaurant and coffee bar in town has a tip jar by the register regardless of whether they perform a service that warrants a tip or not. I don't count someone making a cup of coffee while I stand there as warranting a tip and at the University we have not received a raise greater than the consumer price index in the last *10 years* so I understand rising responsibilities and decreasing pay very well. So if you busk, keep in mind that no one asked you to do it and therefore no one is obliged to pay for it. If restaurants choose to have a musician who plays for tips, well that was their choice not mine. If I really liked the music I'll throw a buck in the case but I don't do that every time and I certainly don't have good feelings for the player who stares at me or makes a joke as I go by (like a snide "have a nice day"). If I thought that my attitude was unusual I wouldn't have made this post. So busk for the joy of communicating music to others not for $$. Oh and I don't want to get into a big discussion about whether our society supports artists sufficiently (it doesn't and that's a fact we all have to live with). Just some thoughts... Cheers, g2

GinnyT11
06-05-2012, 03:47 AM
Busking is virtually unheard of here in Korea. Despite seeing people carrying guitars, violins, and cellos all over the place, I have never seen anyone playing in public, except the campus Christian kids singing hymns. I've been to major walking/market areas all over Seoul, Busan, Gunsan, Jeonju - it just doesn't happen here. :(

They're waiting for you!

GinnyT11
06-05-2012, 04:02 AM
I agree with Gary that your focus of busking should be to make people happier, because if you have that attitude, you're likely to attract more money.

I was just visiting my mother in her retirement home, and a singer with taped music drew 40 people to the hour-long concert of pop songs and show tunes. No payment for that sort of thing, but it would be good experience for developing a long-enough set to get coffee-house gigs.
(You'd get a great response playing in a children's hospital, but that's only for your karma bank.)


BTW, apparently it doesn't matter what level of player you are---most people ignore buskers. A Washington Post columnist asked world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell to play as a busker in the D.C. metro for 45 minutes. Very few people noticed, but the ones who did pause were impressed.
http://notreallyrelevant.blogspot.com/2009/06/joshua-bell-playing-incognito-in-subway.html

snunez
06-05-2012, 04:05 AM
So THAT'S what "busking" is! never heard that term before..

Dougf
06-05-2012, 04:34 AM
Here's a link to my thread "Busking with the Swedes" about my first and only (so far) busking experience.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?38131-Busking-with-the-Swedes&highlight=busking+swedes

kieran
06-19-2012, 12:32 PM
39187

me on the makala, my friend rob on the acoustic, his girlfriend kirsty popping in for some guest vocals and some clingy metal guy haha.

beautifulsoup
06-29-2012, 10:42 AM
Ah, Makala...

I was just about to ask what type of uke to use for busking. I'd feel nervous about a sold wood, but then, there would be more sound with solid wood. Unless one were to use a pick and strum really hard on a laminate, I suppose.

Seriously, though - what ukes work well for this type of enterprise? :)

kieran
07-03-2012, 12:23 AM
Ah, Makala...

I was just about to ask what type of uke to use for busking. I'd feel nervous about a sold wood, but then, there would be more sound with solid wood. Unless one were to use a pick and strum really hard on a laminate, I suppose.

Seriously, though - what ukes work well for this type of enterprise? :)

believe it or not, i actually used to busk with my first ever uke, those plastic-esque mahalo sopranos. of course, you couldn't busk in a busy street with an acoustic guitar without a pick of some sort. i always swear by those thin as hell guitar picks. i've seen those leather ones and the felt ones or whatever, but the plastic flimsy ones work perfectly. too loud and you'll be over-powering the acoustic. not loud enough and well, that'll suck. in all seriousness though, you could buy a cheap soprano on ebay, absolutely thrash it out in your chosen town for a few hours and guaranteed, you'd make more profit than what the ukulele cost initially.

Sven-Uke
07-03-2012, 01:28 AM
I can give two tips:
1. Entertain,
2. Take a collector with you.

A friend of mine spend a summer busking in France with a guitar, and he had a drumkit on his back.
I joined him for a couple of weeks. I did the collecting of money with a butterfly net, and some acrobatics.
People would stop and watch us and they'd throw coins, just to see if I'd catch them.

Together we made four times as much as what he usualy made on his own.

Bonus tip: Have fun!

musiccityuker
07-03-2012, 03:38 AM
I understand Holwin' Hobbit is a pro level busker!

Pearlex3
07-03-2012, 04:14 PM
I've been playing about a year at the farmer's market every week in my home town, usually two to five hours, depending on when I can manage to get up. A lot of the money side of things depends on the weather and the turnout, but I usually make anywhere between twenty to fifty dollars. Really, though, I keep going back because at this point because of all the people. Not just the visitors to the market, but the vendors too. In fact, when college started back up, I was gone for a month, and when I came back to play one weekend, I was surprised at all the vendors who stopped by to talk to me. Now they bring up song requests too!

I used to take a cheap Diamond Head ukulele, but now I play a cookie tin ukulele, and end up talking to be about making them as much as I end up playing. Maybe it's because I'm a chatterbox, but I end up enjoying talking to people as much as I do the playing. Gets me off the farm and into the real world for awhile.

connor013
07-03-2012, 04:54 PM
I used to take a cheap Diamond Head ukulele, but now I play a cookie tin ukulele...

Um, awesome! Where are the pics of the cookie-tin uke? (And yes, I'm imagining my favorite tin of cookies whilst writing this.)

jonyoon
07-03-2012, 06:10 PM
I got my busking permit for Seattle's Pike Place Market a few months ago and I perform whenever I can. It definitely is about people digging what you're playing, but the tips are a nice validation of how much they like you. I typically do covers of songs from the 80s to today, since a lot of people are familiar with those songs.

I busked today around noon for an hour and made $32.79...and a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. :)

buddhuu
07-05-2012, 05:52 AM
My 0.02 on busking.

Busking is great. It's fun and it can entertain passers-by. There is no shame in busking for willingly-given tips, and no one should try to make anyone else feel bad about busking in the hope of earning some money.

Note the words "FREELY-GIVEN" and "EARN".

I have no time for the kind of "busker" who tries to pressurise or shame the audience into paying. That's not busking, that's begging or extorting. That stuff about the kids' parents not loving them if they give less than 10 bucks... IMHO that's a poor excuse for a joke, it's a thinly veiled appeal for people to pay up. By all means announce to the assembled company that tips are very gratefully accepted, but don't single people out, or try to blackmail your audience.

That's where the "earn" bit comes in. If you entertain people and they like you then they'll pay if they're interested. If they don't, then live with it. They didn't ask you to clutter up their sidewalk. By doing so you voluntarily put yourself on public display; that is your choice. You don't have a god-given right to get paid for standing in a public space and doing something the public didn't solicit.

If you want them to pay you then work at your act so they enjoy it and want to pay you.

YMMV.

jonyoon
07-05-2012, 03:12 PM
My 0.02 on busking.

Busking is great. It's fun and it can entertain passers-by. There is no shame in busking for willingly-given tips, and no one should try to make anyone else feel bad about busking in the hope of earning some money.

Note the words "FREELY-GIVEN" and "EARN".

I have no time for the kind of "busker" who tries to pressurise or shame the audience into paying. That's not busking, that's begging or extorting. That stuff about the kids' parents not loving them if they give less than 10 bucks... IMHO that's a poor excuse for a joke, it's a thinly veiled appeal for people to pay up. By all means announce to the assembled company that tips are very gratefully accepted, but don't single people out, or try to blackmail your audience.

That's where the "earn" bit comes in. If you entertain people and they like you then they'll pay if they're interested. If they don't, then live with it. They didn't ask you to clutter up their sidewalk. By doing so you voluntarily put yourself on public display; that is your choice. You don't have a god-given right to get paid for standing in a public space and doing something the public didn't solicit.

If you want them to pay you then work at your act so they enjoy it and want to pay you.

YMMV.

You've seen street performers who shame and pressure the audience into paying? That's weird. I think I've seen people say that their CD is for sale and have CDs there to buy, but I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually force anyone into giving them money.

buddhuu
07-05-2012, 10:36 PM
Oh, don't get me wrong, they don't produce switchblade/flick knives, or scream "You're leaving my family to starve". It is usually done with a smile and a quip, or perhaps with determined eye-contact when offering a hat in which to drop a tip. The psychology is clear, and they know what they are doing.

On a certain folk website I recall a post wherein a busker arrogantly shared his techniques for wringing money from an audience. His tips included calling out things to audience members who began to wander away without contributing: "Too long till payday, sir?"; "Need a few pennies for a cup of tea, sir?", "Isn't free entertainment a wonderful thing, sir?" etc. It's not funny, it's crass.


[...] I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually force anyone into giving them money.

Neither have I, but then that's not what I said.

buddhuu
07-05-2012, 10:42 PM
I should probably mention that in the three towns most local to me, and in the cities I visit most often, busking is permitted. It is commonplace and quite popular. A 30 min train ride into London can expose one to dozens of buskers in the space of a day trip there. Most of these performers are great, and I think they brighten up a trip, but there are a handful of jerks.

kieran
07-07-2012, 09:46 PM
My 0.02 on busking.

Busking is great. It's fun and it can entertain passers-by. There is no shame in busking for willingly-given tips, and no one should try to make anyone else feel bad about busking in the hope of earning some money.

Note the words "FREELY-GIVEN" and "EARN".

I have no time for the kind of "busker" who tries to pressurise or shame the audience into paying. That's not busking, that's begging or extorting. That stuff about the kids' parents not loving them if they give less than 10 bucks... IMHO that's a poor excuse for a joke, it's a thinly veiled appeal for people to pay up. By all means announce to the assembled company that tips are very gratefully accepted, but don't single people out, or try to blackmail your audience.

That's where the "earn" bit comes in. If you entertain people and they like you then they'll pay if they're interested. If they don't, then live with it. They didn't ask you to clutter up their sidewalk. By doing so you voluntarily put yourself on public display; that is your choice. You don't have a god-given right to get paid for standing in a public space and doing something the public didn't solicit.

If you want them to pay you then work at your act so they enjoy it and want to pay you.

YMMV.

i see what you mean. everytime i've gone out busking i've gone out expecting to earn nothing. i think it's best that way. because worst comes to worst, you've made people angry and they won't tip you. but best case scenario, you really gel well with the public and they tip you handsomely.

webby
07-07-2012, 10:29 PM
My favourite busking line to a crowd is, "don't worry if you can't afford to give anything folks, we have almost got the money for the baby's operation."

Always gets a laugh !

jonyoon
07-08-2012, 11:45 AM
On a certain folk website I recall a post wherein a busker arrogantly shared his techniques for wringing money from an audience. His tips included calling out things to audience members who began to wander away without contributing: "Too long till payday, sir?"; "Need a few pennies for a cup of tea, sir?", "Isn't free entertainment a wonderful thing, sir?" etc. It's not funny, it's crass.

Whoa! That is crass! I see what you mean.

itsme
07-08-2012, 12:21 PM
My favourite busking line to a crowd is, "don't worry if you can't afford to give anything folks, we have almost got the money for the baby's operation."
That reminded me of a joke about two panhandlers. At the end of the day they compared their takes. One had $5, the other had $200.

First guy's sign: Unemployed, broke, have four kids to feed.

The other guy's sign: Only need $10 more for my bus ticket back to Mexico!

(Hopefully, that's not too politically incorrect for this crowd. If so, mods please delete and accept my apologies.)

rasputinsghost
07-08-2012, 05:59 PM
In my limited busking experience just be....nice, friendly, and it wouldn't hurt to learn pop tunes that'll inevitably be requested. I had no idea people would break out passive-aggressive lines like those described above - they would NOT be tolerated in NY.

byjimini
07-09-2012, 10:56 AM
I've done York a few times, sadly my busking partner has a lot on her mind lately so it's it's all gone to pot. :/

We usually do rock 'n' roll, like Eddie Cochran & Chuck Berry, and Irish traditional.

bazmaz
07-09-2012, 11:52 AM
This is busking! (all for charity! ) https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.466710370006026.123004.405165126160551&type=1