Busking Tips a fun way to play music, get outside, and meet people. Making money from busking is a bonus as well. If you are in the right location, a few hours of busking a day can earn you enough tips to sustain you full-time. Musicians, magicians, and other entertainers can use it as a side hustle.
Here are 10 tips you can use to earn the most money possible when you’re busking!
What percentage of buskers do you see playing an acoustic guitar? Probably a lot. Because they’re probably the most common type of busker, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. This is especially true if you’re playing the same Beatles covers as everyone else (or, God forbid, Wonderwall).
You need to think differently in order to be noticed. Playing an unusual instrument instead of a guitar is a great idea if you can. Honestly, I don’t think most people think much about instruments that aren’t guitars. You may want to learn some new material as well. Jazz standards from the 20s, 30s, and 40s can be winners, as can rock and blues songs from the 50s.
Another tried-and-true technique is interpreting popular songs in a new way. One time, I heard a saxophone quartet play a fun version of “Come On Eileen.” They did a great job and had people instantly interested because of their instrumentation (say that five times fast). Occasionally, I play a version of TNT by AC/DC on my banjo, and it certainly turns heads!
Knowing Your Audience
If you walk around Dublin, Ireland, you will see plenty of buskers. Many of them will sing Irish tunes and play Irish instruments. Tourism brings tourists from all over the world to Dublin to get a taste of Irish culture. The music could be of any genre, but Irish music is probably the best bet, especially in touristy areas.
I know I just said to “be different” and not follow what everyone else is doing. But there may be a reason why everyone else is doing it that way. The people of New Orleans want to hear jazz. The people of Nashville are looking for country music. It may not be possible for you to live in a tourist destination, but think about what the people around you listen to and engage with.
It’s important to determine what people won’t engage with. If there isn’t a metal festival nearby, experimental thrash metal is probably not a crowd-pleaser. When there are a lot of kids around, parents might not appreciate the more scandalous songs in your set. While classical music can be lovely, it might not stand out well on a busy, noisy street corner.
Busking Tips is a classic example of this, as it’s always mentioned whenever people talk about it. Washington, DC’s Union Station once hosted world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell. During peak morning rush hours, he made about $32 in 45 minutes. It’s not even enough to buy a ticket to one of Bell’s usual performances.
Joshua Bell’s ‘Stop and Hear the Music’ metro experiment | The Washington Post
Bach isn’t something most people expect to hear in a train station. The environment isn’t the best either. The traffic is noisy, and commuters have to get somewhere fast. Many people don’t recognize Bach, either. Perhaps Bell would have gotten more money if he had been playing movie themes or shorter pieces.
Smiling And Saying Thank You
Thanks profusely to anyone who puts a $20 bill in your case. Whenever someone puts a penny in your case, thank them profusely. No matter what people say, at least try to make eye contact with them. Smiling and saying “thank you” is also helpful.
Humans are social animals. Our behavior is influenced by others around us. Everyone watching begins to think about investing when one person puts money in. It’s a fact that most people don’t look at the denomination of the bill or coin. The only thing they see is someone putting something in your case and your reaction to it. They’ll feel even better about reaching into their wallet and taking out a few notes if you’re gracious and thankful.
Children are especially susceptible to this. You’ll get a lot of tips from kids when you’re busking. Try to be as enthusiastic and nice to them as you can. Along with looking like a good person, you’ll also create a cute moment for everyone around you. Additionally, being nice to kids is part of not being a jackass in general.
Make eye contact whenever you can and don’t just sit there with your head down! His case doesn’t seem too full…
Have Something To Offer
Depending on your local regulations, you might not be allowed to do this. Although some cities specifically allow musicians to sell CDs, most have restrictions on selling any type of item. To sum it up, selling CDs or other items can be a good source of income if it is legal.
There’s a good reason for this. You might get $1-2 from someone who just tips you. If you sell a CD for $10, you have suddenly made 5-10 times as much money from the same person. More importantly, you have provided them with a memorable gift. The locals will recognize your name if you play a gig there. They will recognize your music if they see you playing on the street again. At a farmer’s market I used to play at, I remember one father buying a CD of mine for his kids. Then every week they came by, listened to me, and dropped a few bucks. Over the course of a year, I probably earned $100 or more from that one CD sale.
The price at which to sell depends on a number of factors. The amount is usually determined by how much each CD costs to produce. Divide the total amount that you spent on your first batch of CDs, including recording, printing, production, and shipping, by the number of CDs. Add a few dollars profit until you reach a round number. I think $10 seems to be the sweet spot for album sales in general. If it is only an EP, maybe less is better. Since the price might turn some people away, I would not go higher than $15.
Remove or hide the small change
People are influenced by the people around them, as I mentioned previously. As you can see from your Busking Tips, this is very evident. Buskers don’t get a standard tip, so people will subconsciously be influenced by what they’ve already received. There is a lot of small change in there, so it makes it seem like everyone is giving small change. Pennies and nickels begin to rain down.
You can have some small change, but the focus of the wallet should be on higher denomination bills/coins. In essence, what’s already in your case is a “suggested donation” sign. Make sure people get the hint every now and then by taking their pocket change out.
Reduce the volume
Everyone with an amp on the street seems to turn into Nigel Tufnel. Yes, it’s wonderful to be heard over the noise of city life. However, it’s not so great to have your eardrums blasted while you’re walking by. That may mean the difference between stopping to have a listen or running by as fast as you can to avoid the horrific sound.
No matter how good your Busking Tips is, people 500 feet away from you will not tip you. It’s physically impossible. What is the point of blasting your music so loudly? Particularly when standing near your amplifier (you know, where your tip jar is) becomes uncomfortable.
Take a look around, and decide where you want to go. Be realistic about the distance to your audience. Secondly, make sure your volume is loud enough for you to be heard from that distance comfortably. People on the street as well as your audience will thank you.
Furthermore, this raises a broader point that every busker should remember. Across the globe, several cities have established Busking Tips regulations. Sometimes there is a permit process, sometimes it is just a volume or amplifying restriction, and sometimes it is an outright ban. Some people think buskers are a nuisance, which is why these regulations came into force. I probably don’t have to tell you that if busking is banned in your city, you won’t make any money. Be a good citizen busker, and keep the volume at a manageable level.
Preparation and playing to your strengths
Every day, I hear unprepared buskers. Their songs aren’t really their own or can’t be played well. The instruments they play aren’t really theirs or can’t be played well. I know this from experience. Having fun experimenting won’t necessarily make you money, but it can be fun.
If you’re going to go busking, you have to be brutally honest with yourself. You don’t need to have the voice of Freddie Mercury or the guitar skills of Jimi Hendrix to take to the streets. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of the line between busker and nuisance, however.
Consider recording yourself as you practice. Listen to the recording with a critical ear. Consider asking someone you trust and value to listen a bit if they have an opinion you value. You may find that some things work and others do not. Maybe your voice works better with blues songs than pop songs. Alternatively, you may have a low voice but try to sing high. It may be that your guitar playing is great, but the foot percussion you’ve set up isn’t working.
All of this should be taken into account as you work to create the best version of your performance. Practicing the things you’re not as good at or dropping them altogether will help you. Whenever you spend time not sounding great, you’re not earning as much as you could. The key to making more money while Busking Tips is to put your best foot forward.
Get to Know Other Buskers
It is a strange bunch of people, buskers. Many are gruff and territorial, while others are friendly as can be. While it might seem intimidating at first, other buskers are your best resource for tips and tricks.
When approaching another busker, be polite. Chatting with them while they are working is a waste of time. Consider putting some money in their case/jar as a gesture of goodwill. Complement their playing or act. If you have any questions, ask them. Make sure you don’t take up too much of their time by getting straight to the point. Let them decide whether to continue talking or not. I have seen this happen about half the time. However, those that do like to chat have provided me with some incredible tips that have helped me greatly.
It’s also possible that you might become friends with one of your fellow buskers, which leads me to my next tip…
The Consider Collaborating
You may not always get more money by trying this, because it doesn’t always work. Just remember that you’ll have to split the money! Collaboration with a fellow musician can, however, have clear benefits.
In addition to being honest with yourself, you should also be honest with others. Having another performer help fill in some of your gaps can be very helpful. Find someone with a good set of pipes if you’re a great guitarist but not a great singer. In other words, instead of having two OK shows, you’ll have one great show.
You can earn more money by busking with others
This is especially true if you play an instrument that was designed to be played in a group. Trombonists in small jazz ensembles or brass bands are likely to earn more money than if they were to play solo. Bass players alone may not get much attention, but when paired with guitarists or saxophone players, they make a great duo.
Additionally, collaboration can help combat fatigue. If you need a break every so often, you can take a backseat. You’ll be able to play longer if you trade off taking the lead, and your set will sound more fresh. Even though you split your earnings, eventually you’ll probably find that you each make more than you did separately.
I once listened to one of Nashville’s ubiquitous cover bands in a bar. On Broadway, there is live music in every bar, and the musicians are usually of the highest quality. The best players can make a lot of money over the course of their set playing for tips.
The band was excellent. The singer had a powerful voice, and the band was tight and technically brilliant. The problem was that he looked like he wanted to kill himself and take everyone out with him. Throughout the band, the members ranged from disinterested to similarly suicidal. Needless to say, I didn’t see many tips flowing into their bucket.
Being entertaining is the key to making money as a street entertainer. The key is to be entertaining yourself. Get out there and have fun! Make jokes, be loose, and interact with your audience. They’ll enjoy you if you are having fun. Fun-loving people tend to be fairly generous.
Here’s a bonus tip: Fake it
Perhaps you aren’t having fun. You may not know what you’re doing, or you might be completely clueless. Maybe you can’t stand Busking Tips and hate everyone who walks by, or maybe you really, really need the money.
The good news is that people cannot read minds. Whatever is going on inside your head remains there. Take care of business with a big smile, an outstretched chest, and your best effort. Just a little bit of confidence goes a long way. No matter how bad you feel, how you’re feeling, how you’re enjoying yourself, etc., if you make it look like you’re having a great time, your audience will engage with you.
As an example, one of my music teachers used to use the movie Titanic. Audience members see the lovely first class cabins, the elegant staterooms, and the ten course dinners. There are no signs of the massive engines, the crew shoveling coal, or the kitchen staff working frantically to prepare, plate, and serve everything.
Good news is that, if you put up a good facade, you might just believe it yourself. Perhaps you do not think you have the confidence or the skills to perform well. You can only know for sure if you go out and try it for yourself. Eventually, those insecurities will melt away, and you’ll be left with the confidence you were “faking” the entire time.
Oh, and a bunch of cash. Let’s hit the streets!