A Guy Walks Into a Bar… (Continued…)

In most cases the local performers will have a regular system worked out for how time is divided between performers on the popular pitches. Of course arguments between performers, local merchants or John Q. Public sometimes happen and when they do it brings undue attention from the local law enforcement agency and in some instances the city steps in to regulate the pitch for the performers if it happens often. The city will try to stop buskers from performing, sometimes force the participants to pay a fee or get a license or even hold try-outs for a particular pitch depending on the popularity of the pitch and how lenient the City chooses to be in the matter. The important thing to remember is that (at least in America) the first amendment protects your right to free speech, (that is, your ability to express yourself, via your performance, whatever that is, wherever you feel like doing so) making all of this regulation by the city, county or state ILLEGAL. Legal or not, sometimes there is a reason for the madness and it is best to just stick with the program that seems to work best. It keeps things friendly at least between the buskers and the local business owners and the cops. BUT SOMETIMES the cops just like to be dicks… and buskers are unfortunately easy targets for dicks…

In the next post I will go over your rights as a busker and some steps you can take to avoid confrontations with other performers, local merchants, cops and other forms of trouble that might pop up.

Copyright Adam Pate, 2013



(Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…)

Chapter 1: An overview of “busking”.

Busking is a word that describes an entertainer, artist or musician of some kind performing for an individual or a crowd of random people, unbidden, in hopes of collecting tips, rewards or gratuities from the crowd based on the success of their performance. Larger tips are generally given according to popularity, skill level, comfort level and of course how good the performer is at collecting the tips.

People have been busking since Roman times. Recountours, Jongleurs, storytellers, bards, jesters, street artists, no matter what you want to call them, they’ve always been the counter-cultural stuntmen of society. Trying out unique tricks, artwork, music, stunts, poetry, dance, acrobatics, comedy, tragedy and everything in between (yes, even caricatures) for everybody from the unwashed masses to noblemen, politicians and clerics. Some of pop culture’s most famous performing icons started out busking: Simon and Garfunkel, Santana, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffett, Louis Armstrong, Penn and Teller, Bob Hope, Cirque Du Soliel and The Blue Man Group, just to name a few…

As an entertainer, any time you can perform your particular brand of entertainment in public and get an immediate response it’s a great opportunity to learn, practice and get that much closer to becoming a master. If what you do has merit, you will do well. If the pay off is not to your liking you can try new things and discover what works best for you. Yes, that’s right- you can get paid to practice doing something fun! The money you make while busking is some of the hardest and most rewarding money you will ever make, because it is an immediate reward for your successful effort and the amount of the compensation for your effort is based directly on how worthy of reward random people have judged that effort to be. Busking can be a full time job, a useful skill, a way to meet girls, or just something fun to do with your friends in your spare time. In any case you will never go hungry once you’ve got the hang of it!

(Interesting note: It is widely regarded that a female will earn 3 ½ times more than a male doing the same exact performance.)

(An excerpt from the first chapter of “Successful Caricature Busking”, by Adam Pate, copyright, 2013)