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MikeIcon
GOLD Member since Mar 2003

MikeIcon

Pooh-Bah
Location: Philadelphia, PA - USA

Total posts: 2109
Posted:So, Ive been wanting to get a busking license and start doing it once in a while for fun. I have no idea where to start with it though. Could some experienced people give me some information on how they actually go about street performing? Do you use music and if so, what do you use to play it? What are good places to set up? How is your turf set up, do you have a boundry line of any kind so people dont get too close? Once your set is over, how do you collect the money? Do you have a friend/safety stand around helping you? Etc.

Let's turn those old bridges we crossed into ashes.
We'll blaze a new trail,
and torch the rough patches.

-Me

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bubblishis


False Eyelash
Location: New York City

Total posts: 346
Posted:Can't say I've tried it but...

You could always forget the license and feign ignorance. Something along the lines of "Oh no! I'm from another planet and had no idea a license was required..." Dunno if you have boobs - if not it would help to invest in a pair. What's the worst that can happen?

Otherwise you could ask a busker after their performance. If you happen to be in the US and you happen to live in NYC call 311 - it's free and they're very helpful.



All the freaky people make the beauty of the world.

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Achluophobia
BRONZE Member since Jul 2003

Magical Sock Dancer
Location: Newfoundland, Canada

Total posts: 255
Posted:dance and set things on fire
trust me I'm a street preformer.


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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:I see you are in Philly (I will be down there at the beginning of Feb actually).
Last I knew Philly had some pretty strict guidelines about insurance (you HAVE to have it), licensure/permits, some areas fire is banned completely, etc... City Hall can help direct you who to speak to about all the info you need legistically.
I also have to say that many cities now are selling only a certain number of permits for assigned pitches in the US. You have to apply and such.
If you are doing fire then of course you need someone to work with you. The first basic rule of fire performing of any kind is not doing it alone and having a TRAINED safety on hand. When street performing having someone who knows non-aggressive crowd control as well as all the pertinent fire safety is important.

Once you get this info all settled, come back and we can talk legistics about setting up a pitch, drawing a crowd, handling hecklers, handling passers and cuts, and collecting tips. There is so much more to it than simply setting out a hat and gearing up. In fact, busking is harder than any stagework I have ever done.

Kindest Regards,
Pele


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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audax
BRONZE Member since Sep 2001

audax

freelance bum
Location: Upstairs

Total posts: 286
Posted:I had Public liabilty insurance for a year and it covered the world EXCEPT North America. Because the rest of the world is easier to insure. Good Luck.
PLI is good in that if you want to get gigs, they think you're super-pro just because you have it. Faced with a choice of acts with and without insurance, guess who gets the gig?
Non-Https Image Link


UYI wink OLDSKOOL

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Quote:
I had Public liabilty insurance for a year and it covered the world EXCEPT North America. Because the rest of the world is easier to insure. Good Luck.




However that is international. In the US we have our own. It sucks but we still have it. It is one of those bureaucratic bs things for the US to make more money off people who want to come here to perform.


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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DJ Dantana
BRONZE Member since Aug 2001

veteran
Location: Stillwater, Ok. USA

Total posts: 1495
Posted:ok, I got it so far, now what? Waht is the next step, assuming you have all neccisary permits and insurance? confused

we eat and we drink and we smoke and we try!

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general spin


member
Location: England

Total posts: 52
Posted:portable, loud and hence rechargable music is essential I would say and a clearly roped pitch in an open area for fire, an obvious safety person who knows what they are doing and insurance will fend off the worst of officialdom but not the best.

Done properly, in good locations you can make some cool money. Just jammin away for the hell of it though gets a lot of respect but not much coin.

Flogging baby poi after fire demo is good, along with a lesson in the weave or something simplish (not on fire) but that depends on your banter, the place and licences etc, it all gets a bit hairy when you involve the "normal folk" especially in the good old U.S of A.

Music

its worth it though, all of it, busking is ace weavesmiley




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Weasel


the one and only, just like chesney
Location: here

Total posts: 295
Posted:you have to actually devise a show just standing around spinning wont make you any money people will stop look then walk away

set up things props whatever you want u dont have to use them,
interact with people intrigue them so they want to see what is happening
maybe play some music warm up abit

when your ready start ur show keep it varied and remember that although to spinners and jugglers things look different to your averege member of public it looks the same and theyll get bored, spend most of you show working up to your grand finally wish ideally would envolve members of your audience, remember to interact with you audience throughout your show as to keep them interested.then afterwards collect money.


birds might be able to fly,
but weasels dont get caught in jet engine's

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Outline what you want to do. Keep in mind time. People will only stand around so long...so try to keep it to about 10-15 minutes, unless you are scheduled for a fest at which point you usually need 20-30 min. Thanks to tv there was a study on the average american audience, they have an attention span of no more than 45 minutes, generally it is about 25 minutes. It's why most Ren Faire shows fall between these lengths, and why circus, clown and performance art pieces are usually under 15 minutes, why commercials are so popular and part of why scenes in movies switch so much.



Anyway (sorry, I babbled)...



Things suggested before you set out to busk...



1. "Bally Pitch"- This is the way you draw people in. Just setting up and performing is not enough. You need to draw people in. You can talk, yell, whatever or you can do something very physical. My favorite example is the Men in Tights and thier Red Hat routine. They wear normal business atire, nothing out of the ordinary except a red hat. They walk among the crowd virtually unnoticed until, they set down their brief case and dance madly to the music in their head. Then each time they pass one another they dance. Eventually not only do people stop to watch, they dance too. So much fun!



2. Introduction- Once you have devised a crowd you need to let them know who you are and what you are doing. You can do this if you have more than one in the group where some of you work the bally pitch and then one of you takes the stage to do the intro, which gives time for the rest to get back to the stage and make an entrance. Basically, this is speaking loud enough for everyone to hear, to let them know that is your space at that time, and that you will be there for them.



3. Bits- Go on with your act. If you are using fire be aware that staight street busking is **really** close proximity and people tend to crowd in. Extra safety people should be present to help that.



*Things to remember...good audience eye contact.

*Do things from angles that audience members will appreciate (ie:don't turn your back on your audience unless doing btb)

*Talk. Alot and loud and clear. They are there to be entertained and part of interactive entertainment is the interactive part. They want to suspend their disbelief and be part of your world without having to commit themselves so they can walk away if need be. In talking to them, you not only get them into your world, you also keep them there so they won't walk away! Joke with them, make fun of yourself, use pop culture as reference points. Be ready to improvise. Ask questions that will lead them to challenge you. Give them the illusion of control "Would you like to see....?" "Do you want me to....?"

*Remember to not go balls out until the end. Start slow, work up. Depending on time, start slow, work up, then slow down again...take them on a ride.

*Be human. Don't pump yourself up as being all incredible and awesome. There is always someone out there better than you and sometimes, they will be at your show.

I have seen this twice. Juggler friends of mine were completely shown up by a man they brought onto the stage as a prop. They had no idea how to handle it. A staffer (really not a twirler...he just jumped around with it) was shown up by a martial artist in front of a load of people. He was not invited back to do the show again. You can even mess up something on purpose and make a joke out of it. Just remember to do it clown style...make it a question in their minds. If you turn it into a tragedy, you will lose audience members. People relate better to those that are human rather than those that are gods, but they don't want to see incompetence, if that makes sense.



4. Closing- Do your grand thang. Bow, curtsey, whatever. Reintroduce yourself. Thank them for giving up their time to watch you and for supporting the starving artist fund (something that gently reminds them to put money in the tip). Announce if you will be there later or again, and if it is a new show. Thank them again and then be available for questions, comments, etc.



5. Turning a tip: Put out something through the show that people can tip into however things to keep in mind....

**try to make it not too portable, otherwise someone can walk away with it.

**try to make it not so wide on the top or else someone can just stick a hand it and grab some of YOUR cash.

**Put it a short way away from your stage, to the front where the most traffic is, so that it helps to define a boundary, you can still keep your eye on it and people feel like they are not interupting if they tip in the middle of your act.

**Rig it. Put in a few of your dollars first to let people know that is what it is there for and it is okay to use it.



The best idea for this I think I saw was one of those really big restaraunt pickle jars with a hole cut in the lid and bolted to a piece of wood. See through so people got the idea, secure with the screw down cap and large wood base. Was ingenious in it's simplicity. I liked it.





Three more quick notes:



"Borrowing": If you borrow material from someone else, change it. Though I highly recommend against borrowing, just because someone did it at a show 3000 miles away does not mean it is not an overdone joke. It has happened many times where people in the audience will finish the joke for the performer, and that is rather embarrassing. Originality is alot of work but well worth it. Besides, it is just morally and ethically wrong to steal material outright.



Hecklers: They are pains. They always show up. They can really do alot for you, good or bad depending on how you handle them. Being mean and going for the cheap laugh might sound like a quick good remedy though it usually only makes them more frustrated, and in the end makes you look unprofessional. Handle it in a funny, well thought out way. Have an arsenal of comebacks in your mind that neither make him/her or you look like a jerk. If you can, try to ignore them at first. If not, handle them to the best of your ability without inflaming them.



Issues: If someone lodges a complaint against you (sometimes people really don't like the blocking of the sidewalk, etc), if authorities show up, etc. always remember to be respectful. If you get interrupted in the middle of something cool and you have a rapt audience it is easy to get barky and frustrated. Remember how you handle things will help you to gain a good reputation, and as a performer, that is half the battle.



So, now that you have an outline...script it. Lay it out. The practice it. When you have it practiced so that it is smoothe, show it to friends. Get their opinions and tweak it. Then perform it. Listen to the audience, guage their reactions and then polish your act accordingly. Practice, practice, practice but remember to be loose enough that you can improv too, and adjust to the audience.



Street performing is really difficult and it can take a year or more to get a good solid act together. It is all about adaptation and presentation of a skill, even if you just want to do this for a hobby.



Did I miss anything?



Let us know how it goes!

Pele

EDITED_BY: Pele (1074745000)


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Deimos
BRONZE Member since Aug 2003

Deimos

Cinnamon Girl
Location: Hfx, NS, Canada

Total posts: 191
Posted:Here in Halifax, I've found it's quite hard to keep a crowd to stay put unless it's the actual busker festival, so to save face and not blab silly jokes into nothingness, we've just spun our stuff with a hat and a thank you sign a safe distance away, and someone who will always answer questions. It's worked so far, but coming up with a plan sounds like a much better idea.
We're lucky here, you don't need a permit to busk so it must change depending where you are. Insurance is a super thing to look into, makes sure the city can trust you. Also, keep a weather eye open for any local by-laws being enforced. After the giant hurricane up here there was a fire ban that we were unaware of and Rick and Ivan of Ash Circle nearly got in to trouble.
But the best thing about street theater is that there really aren't any rules. The world is your stage, give them a good show!


P*L*U*R

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general spin


member
Location: England

Total posts: 52
Posted:
Non-Https Image Link
Pele


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MikeIcon
GOLD Member since Mar 2003

MikeIcon

Pooh-Bah
Location: Philadelphia, PA - USA

Total posts: 2109
Posted:Great post Pele, learnt a ton from it.

beerchug


Let's turn those old bridges we crossed into ashes.
We'll blaze a new trail,
and torch the rough patches.

-Me

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peaches**86943


peaches**86943

thats sooooo not where i parked my car...................
Location: mareeba

Total posts: 198
Posted:ive busked well not leagally
a group of us just got together on the esplanade in carins one night and just spun our little balls of fire the only music we had were the rush of the flames past our ears and the sounds of the onlookers hands clapping
our mate passed around his hat and by the end of the night we had about $67 dollars the only reason why we started it was beacause we only had about a half a litre of kero and we had no money to buy more so around the hat went
but busking is a great experience doing something you love and getting money for it. so go get that liscence and bring in the big bucks!!!!!!!!!!!! beerchug


we cant stop here its bat country!!!!!!!!!!!

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:I'm glad you found it helpful and that I could be of service.
I have seen good buskers get hundreds upon hundreds of dollars at a prime pitch with a good show and weather on their side.

(btw: pitch= space that you perform on, your temenos is different from a bally pitch= the schpiel you give to people to pull them in to watch your show)

wink


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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JauntyJames
SILVER Member since Dec 2004

JauntyJames

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Hampshire College, MA, USA

Total posts: 3533
Posted:.:bump:.

does anybody know where i need to go to obtain a busking license? i'm having trouble finding things for my area.


-James

"How do you know if you're happy or sad without a mask? Or angry? Or ready for dessert?"

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ado-p
GOLD Member since May 2004

ado-p

Pirate Ninja
Location: Galway/Ireland

Total posts: 3882
Posted:i've been looking for this. thanks for the bump.

this is a great chunk of info pele. would be decent article i reckon.

im finding crowd control and audience interaction to be even harder than dancing and entertaining. its much harder to pull a crowd during the day but at night everyone is drunk and its a recipe for disaster.


Love is the law.

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Adrillf
SILVER Member since Feb 2005

Adrillf

member
Location: UT

Total posts: 112
Posted:Just out of curiosity, where is a good place to busk? Obviously you do not want to do it outside a police station or in a residential area. Are there any areas that are good busking areas that get good crowds and cash flow?

missegyptology: I'm gonna be a terrorist when I grow up anyway

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Fine_Rabid_Dog


Internet Hate Machine
Location: They seek him here, they seek ...

Total posts: 10530
Posted:sparkey, do u have any buildings like a town/city hall where u can inquire about there?

The existance of flamethrowers says that someone, somewhere, at sometime said "I need to set that thing on fire, but it's too far away."

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JauntyJames
SILVER Member since Dec 2004

JauntyJames

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Hampshire College, MA, USA

Total posts: 3533
Posted:probably, but i know its totally illegal to do it in my city (grrr), so i have to take the subway into Washington, and i have no idea how thier local government works

-James

"How do you know if you're happy or sad without a mask? Or angry? Or ready for dessert?"

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Fine_Rabid_Dog


Internet Hate Machine
Location: They seek him here, they seek ...

Total posts: 10530
Posted:illegal?

gits... shrug sorry bud, guess ull either have to risk it, or get a license in washington if they give em... good luck with it smile


The existance of flamethrowers says that someone, somewhere, at sometime said "I need to set that thing on fire, but it's too far away."

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linden rathen
GOLD Member since Mar 2005

linden rathen

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: London, UK

Total posts: 6942
Posted:**bump**

awsome thread and thanks for the info Pele - a worth while read as ever biggrin

thinking of doing some busking around london to raise cash for froggette


back

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Fine_Rabid_Dog


Internet Hate Machine
Location: They seek him here, they seek ...

Total posts: 10530
Posted:Dude!

If I'm around anytime that you plan on doing it, gimme a ring and I'll come with smile


The existance of flamethrowers says that someone, somewhere, at sometime said "I need to set that thing on fire, but it's too far away."

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VampyricAcid
SILVER Member since Jun 2005

VampyricAcid

veteran
Location: My House

Total posts: 1286
Posted:If you come to cambridge its Free to busk, hear me FREE biggrin i got bored one night and started spinning (with tails) in the city centre with my tshirt on the floor at 11:00 on a monday night, by 1am i decided it was enough as i had work in the morning, but i was having so much fun with all the drunken people and i made about 19, i found the best way to get interest was to get a rapport going with any passers by (it was quite easy to get noticed lol a half naked guy in the middle of town with pink things flying around his head).

a couple of my mates went out not doing poi, but playing music, and 3 of them made 200 in about 3 hours on a saturday afternoon, so there is definate money in it


Proudly Owned By The BMVC

Are You Sniffing My Mitten?

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FireNix
BRONZE Member since Apr 2001

FireNix

old hand
Location: India/Bristol

Total posts: 904
Posted:BUMP - Excellent thread Pele
Ill add some more things when I have time


Feel the Flame
Phirenix

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