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View Full Version : Ukulele Busking?!



Melanie
01-03-2012, 09:22 AM
Hey guys, I'm Melanie. I'm pretty new to this site and still feel kinda intrusive posting threads. I was just wondering if any of you have tried busking with your ukes? I've always thought about doing it and I've built up my repertoire some. If you do, do you have any tips on getting started?

Thank you :)
-Melanie

Rzr
01-03-2012, 09:29 AM
I've never tried but my advice would be pick a good spot and a warm day. Good luck!

rem50
01-03-2012, 09:57 AM
I am eager to see what is posted. I too want to do that. I wonder if you need a permit from the city you are in?

Uncle Rod Higuchi
01-03-2012, 12:18 PM
I've busked on the sidewalks of Waikiki and here's what I did.

1. there's a satellite police station in Waikiki so I spoke with an officer to find out the law re: busking. fortunately, as long as I
wasn't blocking the sidewalk and physically insinuating myself on passers-by, it would be OK.

2. I set myself up acoustically so as not to blast passers-by.

3. I use a music stand and a music book. I have a tripod on which I place my lauhala 'tip' basket.

4. I sing and play to my heart's content, practice if you will, for a couple of hours.

I used to do all of this quite regularly, generally in the evenings, whenever I returned home to
help care for my Mom. However, as she needs more care in the evenings, I've done a bit in the
afternoon, but it's hot. It's still rewarding however.

Bottom line, check with the authorities first. See what other buskers are doing and generally
follow their 'plan'.

In Waikiki there are a lot of 'buskers'. Not all singers by any means, some bird-people who want
you to take pictures with their birds, some pantomine statues, drummers (booo!) [it's not that
they sound badly, it's just that they can be heard a long way and it tends to interfere with what
other, quieter buskers are doing], and various sidewalk vendors - basket weavers, jewelry vendors, etc.

If you busk in an area where there are other buskers you won't stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.
You'll feel more accepted as part of the scenery!

Anyway, have a great time and don't expect to make a 'killing'. If you do well, you might be able to
pay for lunch and parking! I had the rare privilege of busking with James Hill! And between the 2 of us
we made $4!!!

keep uke'in',

3nails4holes
01-03-2012, 12:19 PM
i've done this in key west with my guitar back in the day. a recent uu forum post indicated how times have changed lately to be more restrictive.

so first, i would recommend that you check local permits/ordinances before you do this.

have a great song set that you can make your own. find a great spot (check with a business owner to get on their good side if it's okay to be outside their place).

then get to it & have fun! oh, and sprinkle your case with some $ to give people the idea to do likewise. :)

ItsAMeCasey
01-03-2012, 12:32 PM
I've busked a few times with the ukulele. I didn't make much money lol, but it was fun. I've also busked as a magician and in a brass quartet, both earning a lot more than the uke. I guess it all depends on how receptive people are to the ukulele in the area where you live. Because I live in Hawaii the uke is very common, but seeing as you live in New Jersey you might have better results (forgive me if i'm being ignorant). None the less it's tons of fun, and if you're able to I'd say give it a try!

kaizersoza
01-03-2012, 12:39 PM
great thread melanie, i am interested in doing a bit of busking but i am still a bit shy about my music

bigdog
01-03-2012, 02:32 PM
An easy place to start busking is getting involved with your local Farmer's Market. I found those crowds friendly and supportive. My ventures there led to coffee houses and eventually teaching a Uke class for a local Con Ed program.

Stick your foot in the water and see what happens....

RuckMonkey
01-03-2012, 04:35 PM
An easy place to start busking is getting involved with your local Farmer's Market. I found those crowds friendly and supportive. My ventures there led to coffee houses and eventually teaching a Uke class for a local Con Ed program.

Stick your foot in the water and see what happens....

Now THAT is inspiration for me to get up to snuff to try it! Sounds super cool and maybe when I get good enough I can try it. Though, I don't think it'd go over to well here in rural Japan... The locals are very on the conservative quiet side. :)

Ukuleleblues
01-04-2012, 01:18 AM
It's a lot of fun. You meet some interesting folks.

I found that when folks stop to talk, cut short your song and talk to them, and then say something like "I have a song for you" and play them something. I've gotten a lot of tips that way. Make sure you have a big tip jar or sign on your case and be sure to put a few in there to folks know where to put their money.

ukuleledaveey
01-04-2012, 01:34 AM
Our locla uke club, of which i am a member, well we did busking in a busy shopping centre for charity, we played for two hours non stop, apart from when the jobsworth centre manager made us move outside into the cold, but we did have permission to do it, she was just being a pain in the A, but was funny when we told her the double bass was a ukulele bass and she believed us, we raised over 450 in two hours for children in need, and i must say it is always good when there is a few of you as it is safety in numbers, and also on the positive side we got a few gigs out of busking as passers by enjoyed it, we even got to play on a local radio show just before xmas as the presenter saw us busking, i highly recommend it ven if just a few of you, but always check with local authorities first is my tip , good luck :)

Dougf
01-04-2012, 04:00 AM
I posted a thread a while back about my first (and so far, only) busking experience. Here's a condensed version:

I decided to take my ukulele along with me on a business trip to Stockholm last year. I carried it as I walked through Gamla Stan, the old part of town. I came upon two young men playing music on the street, a sax and an electric bass. I asked if I could join in for a couple of tunes. They said, "Sure", but looked a bit surprised when I opened my uke case. We played some blues, Gershwin's "Summertime", and something else I completely faked. A crowd seemed to gather, and I noticed quite a bit a money tossed in the their open guitar case. When I told them I needed to get going, they asked if I wanted to take some of the money. Of course I said no, but they said, "Really, that was the busiest we've been all afternoon."

glass
01-04-2012, 04:19 AM
Being from jersey as well I know that in seaside on the boardwalk there is a guy named frank the magician he performs in front of Spicys. And I have seen police stop and make sure he has a permit other people have done same on each block now but he was first!

hedgehogsontoast
01-04-2012, 05:58 AM
thanks for posting this thread, i've wanted to busk for a while now but never got round to it! This info has been very useful!

rem50
01-04-2012, 10:23 AM
Ok, I am so on it! I am going to get it together so I can do some this summer. It has got to be so much fun. SHould you amplify or just acoustic? I am thinking to take the smiley face uke because that will put a smile on anyones face!

bigdog
01-04-2012, 01:44 PM
Check out your venue before amplifying. I have found that festival or Farmer's Market type events are better going acoustic. People tend to "discover" you as they stroll through and you are not overpowering nearby vendors, etc... people will stop if they are interested. As previously mentioned, interact and draw your crowd in. It is as much about presentation as musicianship.

Jnobianchi
01-06-2012, 10:22 AM
I I spoke with an officer to find out the law re: busking. fortunately, as long as I
wasn't blocking the sidewalk and physically insinuating myself on passers-by, it would be OK.

Heed Uncle Rod! This is the first thing you should do, wherever you're thinking of playing.

In 1981, I moved to London for a year or so and brought along uke and guitar. I played in Regents Park, and no one minded - then I tried playing in the tube. I was immediately accosted by a cop, and when I said I didn't know that I needed a permit, that I was an amateur, he escorted me out of the station, up two escalators and through the turnstiles, not worried at all about my uke, or the case, which got crushed in the stile.

Find out first and avoid having to replace a case, and recover whatever dignity you can. :D I actually ended up playing in clubs, where an expensive and hard to get permit wasn't required.

And now, it's illegal to play the uke, banjo uke and other 'intrusive' instruments in the tube, when last I checked.