Busking Tips

Tips for buskers and street performers

This is not a how-to guide for busking. These are simply tricks I have learned which have made me a more engaging and therefor wealthy busker. I have no idea if these tips work for musicians but they will work for jugglers, magicians, freaks, and acrobats.

Many of these tips will involve making your audience comfortable in one way or another. The reality is street performers provoke fear or even disgust in some people. There are a number of ways you can counter these gut reactions, but you can’t win them all. You can do everything right and still get sneers and nasty remarks. Brush it off and keep going.

Audience placement

If they should move in closer or take a few steps back, tell them. People watching a street show are like children on the first day of school. Don’t add to their worries by making them choose where to stand. If you give a direction and your audience is reluctant to comply, mime what you would like them to do.

“I love putting on a show but I don’t want to make a scene. Could you all take two big steps forward so that we don’t block traffic. I may be riddled with disease, but I don’t bite”

Just before giving this instruction, step back slightly. Then, as you say “take two big steps forward”, take two exaggerated steps forward. Stepping backwards prior to the instruction is done to make sure you do not move too close to your audience. At this point the audience is very timid. The combination of giving a firm (confident) instruction while walking towards them can have an unsettling effect.

Lighting

If you busk at night, make sure to set yourself up in such a way that you are well lit. This can be a problem with something like a juggling act. Your natural inclination is to find a spot where your juggling props are easily visible to you. But think about what a potential audience passing by sees; they can certainly tell you’re juggling but that’s about it. They can’t make out your face, your expression, your clothing, and most importantly they can’t see your eyes. If they cannot make out these details, it is likely that they will keep moving.

To Be Continued

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