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Thread: Busking anyone? Tips and tricks.

  1. #1
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    Default Busking anyone? Tips and tricks.

    I was talking about this to Jerry yesterday and today. I was playing a set at a craft fair that was being held at a local winery. Three or four women with children in tow came by and I immediately went from Love Me Tender to Wheels on the Bus and got the kids' attention. Three songs in, the mothers sent their kids up with dollars to throw in my ukulele case. It always works. And if someone has three kids, every one of them has to get a dollar to throw in the case. And then if you can get the attention of a couple of families, one can't be outdone by the other. It is a gold mine. Always have at least three or four kid's songs that you can launch into in a moment's notice. I learned this trick out busking.

    Maybe some don't know what busking is. It is street performing. I'm addicted to it. And it doesn't have to be music, but my juggling is not that good, so playing the ukulele is my thing. You find a place where there is a stream of foot traffic. They call that a pitch. You find your pitch, put out your open case, and try to get people's attention. If you can hold them long enough, they will throw some money in your case.

    A secondary benefit is that people ask you to do their craft fair, or a birthday party, or something like that. It is a good way to pick up an easy paying gig. Hence I found myself yesterday morning at a craft fair at a winery, playing kid's songs. The guy who was playing before I went up was a fellow busker that I have run across on numerous occasions.

    Anyway, my busking tip is to launch into kid's songs any time you see one within earshot, and keep playing them until the parents have to bribe their kids with a buck each to some how break your hold on them. Think the Pied Piper. A challenge, but really not that big of one. Kids are easily entertained.

    So is anyone else all about busking? Any stories, tips, or just want to talk about it? Anyone thinking about busking but hasn't yet?
    Last edited by Rllink; 07-21-2019 at 11:04 AM.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

  2. #2
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    Do parents pay extra for you to finish "Baby Shark" quickly

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcy View Post
    Do parents pay extra for you to finish "Baby Shark" quickly
    Darn it. Now I can't get it out of my head, and only myself to blame. *grumph*-de-de-de-de-de-de Grumpy Shark

  4. #4
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    The last Farmer's Market I played, I asked the youngster who came and parked himself in the front row what song he wanted to hear me play - He said "Take Me Out To The Ball Game".

    Luckily, I don't need the lyrics for the chorus of that song - only the verses. So I told him I'd play it, but he had to sing along. And if he wanted to come sing into the microphone, he could - I'd turn it around for him.

    He said he didn't want to sing into the mic - Mom wiped her brow, letting me know I'd dodged a bullet, and I started playing. He sand with me twice - very much on key, and sounding pretty good - and Mom looked surprised.

    Two bucks in the basket.

    Last year, one child wanted to hear "Home On The Range", so I played the chorus. He said "No - all of it!". So I did the verses, and he sand along with 4 of the 5 I have in my book.

    That one, I think, was a setup; his mother has been bringing him and his brother to Starbucks since they were born, and they knew me from when I worked there.

    The only time I played "Wheels on the Bus", the 5 year-old turned to his dad and said "That's a baby song - let's go."

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  5. #5
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    I'm currently a professional busker although not for 8 hour days. I'm busking 2-4 hours a day, 5 days a week.

    Children asking parents for money to give me is good income just as parents giving money to reluctant children to give to me is too. My experience is that songs don't have to be outright children's songs to work for children. Just be family friendly and have a smile on your face and Creedence songs will work just as well. I only have a handful of children's songs in my repertoire. Its more important to smile at the parents and children and engage with the public. Don't close yourself off in the song struggling to remember the words.

    I can be singing some outrightly dark blues songs sometimes and have children come over and give me money which is when I sometimes leave out some words and just say, "thank you darling" or "thank you young man".

    For me, knowing a song so well that I can keep on playing it while I say "good morning" or have a quick chat and then pick it up again is quite important.
    Its about engaging the public.

    EDIT: having said all that, children's songs can work just fine too if you want to use them. I know another busker in my town who does well from singing children's songs.
    Last edited by anthonyg; 07-21-2019 at 02:42 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rllink View Post
    I was talking about this to Jerry yesterday and today. I was playing a set at a craft fair that was being held at a local winery. Three or four women with children in tow came by and I immediately went from Love Me Tender to Wheels on the Bus and got the kids' attention. Three songs in, the mothers sent their kids up with dollars to throw in my ukulele case. It always works. And if someone has three kids, every one of them has to get a dollar to throw in the case. And then if you can get the attention of a couple of families, one can't be outdone by the other. It is a gold mine. Always have at least three or four kid's songs that you can launch into in a moment's notice. I learned this trick out busking.

    Maybe some don't know what busking is. It is street performing. I'm addicted to it. And it doesn't have to be music, but my juggling is not that good, so playing the ukulele is my thing. You find a place where there is a stream of foot traffic. They call that a pitch. You find your pitch, put out your open case, and try to get people's attention. If you can hold them long enough, they will throw some money in your case.

    A secondary benefit is that people ask you to do their craft fair, or a birthday party, or something like that. It is a good way to pick up an easy paying gig. Hence I found myself yesterday morning at a craft fair at a winery, playing kid's songs. The guy who was playing before I went up was a fellow busker that I have run across on numerous occasions.

    Anyway, my busking tip is to launch into kid's songs any time you see one within earshot, and keep playing them until the parents have to bribe their kids with a buck each to some how break your hold on them. Think the Pied Piper. A challenge, but really not that big of one. Kids are easily entertained.

    So is anyone else all about busking? Any stories, tips, or just want to talk about it? Anyone thinking about busking but hasn't yet?
    Wow. Maybe I'm a bad mom, but kids' songs would never have done it. Balloon animals, yes. But then, around here there are so many buskers my kids never expected to constantly patronize them. We just picked our favorites. Often they weren't musicians.

  7. #7
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    As I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, I’d have a different approach. I’d put a sign up that said “Will sing for free, will shut up for money “.
    "All worthwhile things in life should be easy to learn but hard to master"

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  8. #8
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    Here's my busking tip. I recently put together a very compact and long lasting power rig, a Wagan EL2600 Elite Pro 200W Pure Sine Inverter that has two a/c outlets and one USB for $55 from Amazon, coupled with a Universal UB1280 AGM 12v 8Ah battery for $38 plus charger for $30 from my local hardware and audio parts stores. The rig measures 6.25" wide x 8" tall x 2.75" deep and weighs 6.4 lbs. It lasts for about 5 hours running my Carvin MB15 200/250w 15" speaker bass amp. I actually put together a second one to run my 8 channel board mixer. I did the wires and Velcro straps. This photo should show you how compact it is.




    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
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    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
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    Last edited by kohanmike; 07-21-2019 at 08:47 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcy View Post
    Do parents pay extra for you to finish "Baby Shark" quickly
    I had never heard of that, but I found it on YouTube. Odd how they have the kids escaping from the family of sharks that's trying to eat them.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AQUATOPAZ View Post
    Wow. Maybe I'm a bad mom, but kids' songs would never have done it. Balloon animals, yes. But then, around here there are so many buskers my kids never expected to constantly patronize them. We just picked our favorites. Often they weren't musicians.
    Well not every person with kids stops to listen, just like when I'm playing songs for the adults walking by not every one of them stop either. And not every kid is into songs or music, you can't get them all. Definitely there are good days and bad. But that's the fun, seeing if you have enough presence to get some of them to take a moment and stop to listen. Kids are money makers, but frankly, if I can get a hand full of adults to stop and sing along, or even tap their toe or engage them in any way, I like that better, whether they tip me or not.

    Saturday I got the kid's attention for all of ten minutes, but mostly I got farmers standing around waiting for the ladies to get through the fair. Lots of twangy stuff, and they are pretty tight with the tips. But if you're going to busk you need to be good with rejection, because most people walk by and don't even notice you there. But all of my life I myself have been drawn to street performers, so that is why I do it now.
    Last edited by Rllink; 07-22-2019 at 04:43 AM.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

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