1. Buskers Become Well Known In The Community
If you’re a regular busker, people will start to look forward to you coming every week. For instance, there’s a market town I go to sometimes on a Thursday (if it’s not raining). Every time I go, the stall holders will come up to me and request songs or tell me that people were asking about me earlier. Also pub and restaurant owners take notice and ask me to come to their locations. Business owners recognise that street performers can bring in more money for them. It's a great way to build a following in your local area (or the wider world if your videos go viral online).
2. The City or Town Becomes More Enriched By Talent
People really appreciate seeing and hearing interesting things when they’re walking through a city centre. Children are especially excited when they come across an unexpected act. As a musician, I can say that music adds atmosphere and can brighten people’s moods. A good busker adds charm to any place.
Particular locations get a lot of tourists, and tourists often get excited by buskers and they want to take lots of pictures. Likewise there are a lot of photographers that walk around looking for interesting things to take pictures of. I usually get at least 2 picture takers a day plus a video or two.
As a side note, it always makes me wonder where those pictures end up. I never come across any of them online, so I’m assuming they are just shared privately amongst friends? The only time I see them is if the person gets my contact details. But when that happens there’s the advantage that you get a few professional photos that you can add to social media (with the photographer’s permission).
4. Make New Friends
Most buskers are genuinely friendly people with the exception of one or two of them. They can help you find a good spot and tell you about events you might want to perform at. Also, there might be some people out there who are looking for another person to collaborate with. For instance, sometimes musicians are looking to put a band together and need good musicians to join them.
Busking is a good way to meet like-minded people. There are also other people who work in the town that are happy to help you out if they enjoy what you do. You might even make a new friend or two after all of that.
5. Get Recommended For Things
When you make new friends, then your name comes up in conversation when an opportunity arises. Someone is looking for a busker to be featured in a documentary? Or maybe someone is creating a big event, like a festival, and needs entertainment? Organisers ask around and if people know who you are and what you do, they might recommend you. And that can potentially lead to more gigs.
6. Get Offered Gigs
It’s much easier to get offered wedding gigs, parties and other types of gigs if people can see and hear you. Going around from place to place (like bars and restaurants) and asking for people to hire you takes a lot of time and effort. But when you are out busking, you don’t have to go out looking for gigs, the gigs come to you! The more highly skilled you are the more offers you will get.
You end up walking around quite a bit in different towns. Whether you take public transport or drive, you still need to walk to the centre with all of your equipment and then continue walking to find a good spot. Some days you don’t walk that much, but others you end up walking up and down the streets. Some of these are big obstacles (e.g. Steep Hill in Lincoln). I didn’t even need to prepare myself to do the Inca trail in Peru because I got all the training I needed through busking! It helps you keep fit and it sure beats sitting in an office all day.
There are so many people out there that hate their jobs, and just go in every day because they have to pay the bills and they don’t see an alternative. I used to be like that. I worked in financial services for years. Although I was good at what I did, I was miserable. I didn’t feel like I was producing something that made me feel like I was making a real difference in the world.
When I turned my hobby into my job, everything changed. I felt like I was making a great contribution to society which benefited a lot more people than just the faceless accounts I used to deal with day in and day out. I don’t have to motivate myself to get up in the morning and go out, because I’m my own boss and I just go out if I want to. And I want to because I enjoy it!
10. Brighten People’s Day
I get a lot of people coming up to me saying how they were having a bad day and then they heard my music and it cheered them up. Or it reminded them of a happy memory like a wedding or a distant (or deceased) relative. I also hear from fellow buskers that they have experienced the same thing. I feel like when you can touch people’s emotions, it makes your job that much more special. You aren’t just standing there for your health; you are standing there for other people's health too!
Do you go busking? What other advantages have you discovered from performing on the street? Write your thoughts in the comment section! And watch out for my next blog post later this week on the disadvantages of busking.
Serena Smith is an American British violinist and fiddle player. I play full time as a street musician in addition to the live gigs I perform with several bands.