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Busking

Street performing, also called “Busking”, is probably one of the least common way to travel and that’s the reason why most people find it so intriguing. I started busking back in 2012 in Sydney, Australia. As a breakdancer, I had heard about busking before but I never really considered it. In fact, my first job in Australia was as a sales representative. At that time, I never imagined that dancing in public spaces could be a substantial way of making money. But I had the chance to meet people who convinced me that it was possible and no more than 2 months later, I took the leap and started street performing with 2 friends. Today, I couldn’t be more grateful for that as this experience indisputably changed my life. Since then, I’ve been performing in a handful of major cities in Europe and Oceania whilst earning plenty of money.

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Now you are probably asking yourself ‘How can I do it too?’

To be brutally honest with you, I have to say first that if you have ZERO talent, it will be hard… But actually not impossible! I have seen performers with no special talent hold a crowd for 40 min just with crowd building techniques, crowd participation and funny lines. Their finally was terribly bad but in some sort, their talent was to be able to gather a crowd and build up energy for their final stunt, even if it isn’t that impressive. People will still pay if they laughed for the past 40 minutes.

Now if you have a Talent (big or small), it will definitely be easier.

First of all, be aware that there are typically 2 types of acts :

When I first started busking, our performance looked more like a ‘Walk-by’ act as we were just dancing with a collection bucket in front of us and with no clear beginning or end of our show. It was clearly tiring and totally inefficient in terms of earnings. We didn’t interact with our audience and we were not managing the crowd effectively. Luckily enough though,  I met 2 American professional buskers (T-co and JD) who taught me how to properly organize a show as they had been doing it for the past 10 years – and my career as a busker clearly kickstarted from there. Check the end of the page to see the main tips I learned from them.

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Which Country / City is good for busking ?

Typically, any city with a good number of tourists will be good. I have been performing in major cities such as Sydney and earned the same amount as in a small coastal city of Portugal full of tourist. As long as the people walking are in a holiday mindset, not rushed by time and coming from a wealthy country, you will be doing good.

How do you find out about licenses ?

Find out about licenses can be tricky from time to time. Typically before going to a city I would youtube and google ‘street performer in xxxx (city)’ and check if there are some buskers already established in that area. Later on I would try to check if they have a permit system in place by visiting the town hall website. For major cities, you will most likely find your answers that way. But for smaller cities, this type of research is usually not conducive.

In my opinion, the 2 best alternatives are :

Can busking alone support me financially?

If you are totally unexperienced, it will be hard but possible to rely on your busking earnings to support your basic needs. That being said, you probably won’t be able to save any money. Once you get a better act and understand how to manage a crowd, you will be able to save money and be location independent.

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But it doesn’t stop here, performing in front of hundreds of people everyday opens other doors that are sometimes unexpected. For instance, I remember getting approached for a gig in Australia that payed us 500$ for a one hour gig. A teacher present during one of our street performances absolutely loved our show and desperately wanted us to perform at his school.

Again, my group got approached by a women from a council of a city in Portugal who is ready to fly us to come perform the whole month of July in her town. All of this food and rent free. As you can see, street shows can lead you to much bigger things and you should take advantage of that!

How do I find members?

In order to start busking, you can either start solo or with a group. If you decide to start on your own, you will not face many of the staple busker-act problems. However, starting on your own will be much more difficult physically and mentally. But some people are lone wolves and will prefer to do it that way – so kudos!

If you are like me, and you prefer performing with other members, finding dancers that are like-minded will be crucial. If you are a b-boy, you are most likely practicing in a place with many other dancers. Go and ask around if anyone would be up  to start doing street performances and you will be surprised to see that lots of people are interested.

Tips to create a good act

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These few tips might sound simple but they will make a big difference in your earnings so pay attention!

Are you are busker or interested in busking? Drop me a message and let’s chat!