Hi Rubies! So today I’m sharing my ultimate busking guide! At the bottom of the page is my youtube video I did on it for more in depth but this blog post is meant as a companion to the video as a quick bullet point post to refer to once you’ve watched the video or just prefer this format.
What you need before you Busk
Before you start you need to do some research. Where you want to busk and if theres anything you need to do/need to know before you go. Here’s some things to look out for:
(Potentially) busking license. Some places you need one and sometimes you don’t. Your best best is to look on the councils website and see if theres anything to do with busking (Usually theres something). Some councils will have their policies online (need a license/don’t/no Amps/time constraints of how long you can play there etc). Sometimes all you need is an email giving permission, sometimes you pass an audition to obtain a free license, sometimes pay for one and other times nothing is needed.
If you can’t find any info/or it’s a bit vague, I would find an email for the council highlight where you want to busk (perhaps there’s a spot in the high street you would like to go to or have seen others busking at) and ask if you can you busk there: but if you’re not sure drop them an email. Sometimes it can be hard to find out exactly what they want. Usually just common sense stuff: to be respectful and not too loud/obviously don’t play songs that could be offensive/blocking businesses etc. Obviously move on if they tell you and do your research about your area, speak to friends who might have busking experience.
Another thing to look out for is councils can be fine with you busking in say the high street for instance but that changes depending on who owns the property. So for instance it’s likely to be different rules busking in the high street and busking in a shopping center. EG- Exeter. Princesshay need to pass an audition for a free busking license, the high street is ok.
Another thing (whilst not essential) that is useful, is joining/following facebook groups/pages for musicians/buskers in your area. They usually have lots of great tips and events/open mics going on in your area which gives you a chance to socialise with other musicians.
What you need to take with you (These are the things I take with me as a guitar player and singer)
Busking amp. Obviously you can play acoustically (in fact some areas don’t want you to use amps) But I find if you can use them, and as long as they are at a sensible volume it’s usually a good idea so people can hear you well enough. The amp I use is the Roland Cube Street.
Microphone. I don’t use a specific one right now but a popular choice is the shure SM58. There are lots of videos and articles out there discussing the best busking equipment and live microphones to use, so be sure to check these out before making a purchase.
Microphone stand. The sturdier the better!
Semi acoustic guitar
Microphone lead. The more things you can have duplicates of the better, but especially leads if you can!
Music books (That have all my cover songs in)
Business cards (I get mine from Vistaprint, I feel they are a good price)
Board/advertising (Ensure not to be blocking pathways/businesses etc)
Spare batteries (For amp/guitar etc)
Tuner (Even if you have one built into your guitar, it’s useful to have an external one, even if that’s just an app on your phone, they can be surprisingly quite good some of them! I have a free one that works fine ‘GuitarTuna’)
Bags/trolley to carry things. Any with wheels will be your best friend!
- Water! And take some food in case get hungry
- I tend to go on bus due to parking expenses (Do your research which is cheaper for where you are)
- I find a lot of popular covers go down well with busking so these are the ones I tend to focus on the most but don’t rule out other stuff as obscure songs can also really make one persons day or is a chance to get your songs out to a new crowd. Basically choose out your songs carefully. Oasis tends to go down well literally anywhere I play be that busking or a gig.
- Have weather appropriate clothes and pick your spot wisely! If you can get under a cover early I would (Weather).
- I find the earlier I get there the better chance of getting the spot I want.
- Try different spots see which works best for you. There’s usually spots where you can get a better response than others.
- Don’t let a bad experience or day put you off. I’ve had plenty of rude people but the more you get out and perform the tougher skin you get with it.
- Have fun. If you’re having a good time playing will reflect and everyone will feel those good vibes.
That’s it for now 🙂 If there’s anything else I think to add I will or I will add in a new post 🙂
Have fun Busking Rubies, be sure to tag me in any videos/photos! @hannahrubymusic