Busking & Street Performing

Our Tips for Busking

So you want to try your hand at Busking? It can be fun and you can earn a bit of extra money. Here's some things to consider...

Safety, Security & Legality

"Had a strange start to my day - first I found a hat on the pavement with some money in it and then I was chased by a man with a guitar..."

Guitar CaseSeriously though - If people enjoy your performance then they will 'throw some money in the hat' and you will need to look at how you protect this income. Would it be easy for someone to run past and lift your hard earned cash? Having a large recepticle (eg a guitar case) would make taking it much harder and also easier for people to donate.

Your safety and that of passers-by also has to be a priority. You don't want people falling over you or your equipment. Having your amplifier (if required) up against a wall or other solid structure is far better than it being in the middle of the pavement. Also don't leave your equipment unattended.

You should not block any entrances or exits to premises and pedestrians should not be forced onto the road to get past you or your audience. As a guide there should be enough space for a wheelchair or double pushchair to pass you.

PLI (Public Liability Insurance) - well we would say this but some councils insist that you have it before allowing you to perform. Here at AMPband it's just £49 for a soloist for a year and that'll give you £10m PLI cover too.

Licence - In most parts of the UK you don't need a licence to perform in public areas but it's always best to check with your local council as each one has their own policy. Some do charge a small fee, others use a pitch booking scheme. If you want to raise money for charity then you may need a charitable street collection licence. Some councils prohibit anyone of compulsory school age from busking – whether or not money is collected.

Timings - again this varies from area to area so always best to check. You may be restricted to specific hours in the day. Some also only allow you to be at a pitch for a limited time before you have to move on so make it count.

Complaints - most of the complaints received by councils about buskers relate to either noise levels or obstruction. Do your utmost to avoid both; after all you don't want to have to share your income by way of a fine or penalty.

Health - as well as making sure the area around you is safe to perform in you will need to look after yourself.

When performing during the winter months consider these tips:

  • Stay out of the wind - the weather forecast might say it's 10°c outside but if there's a strong northerly wind then the chill factor would make this feel more like 5°c. So find a sheltered spot.
  • Several layers of thin clothing provide better insulation than one thick layer.
  • Take a small remnant of carpet to stand on.
  • When you take a break have a hot drink.

On a hot summers day:

  • Try to perform in the shade.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Business Cards/Poster

Buskers may obtain bookings for other events as a result of their performances on the street. It could be from a pub landlord, a talent scout, someone getting married, having a party etc

If someone does approach you then being able to provide your contact details on a card makes life easy. We don't advise just handing our cards to random spectators in the hope of further work. Most would not have the requirement and you don't want to be accused of littering the street with discarded contact material.

Equipment

Most councils will allow you to use battery powered amplification equipment (but worth checking). Some may have a restriction on the power output allowed and most prohibit the use of generators or mains powered amps.

Some companies manufacture amplifiers specifically for the purpose so it's worth vsiting your local music store or search on-line.

Merchandise

Some buskers generate additional income by selling merchandise (eg recordings of their own material). Again (you've guessed it), check with your local council as you may need an additional street trading licence for this activity.

If you want advice for a specific area or to network with fellow buskers take a look at the 'Buskers & Street Performers UK' group on Facebook

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