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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I love busking. If it paid as well as my other gigs I'd do it all the time. It's easy, you meet lots of people, get lots of practice, and make your own hours. But most players turn their nose up at buskers, at least where I live. And often these are players that are still living with Mom, or working day jobs they hate, and practicing hours and hours every day at home earning nothing. What is the big hangup about playing on the street? Is it that druggies also do it? A lot of people have told me they're afraid of what their friends will think if they see them. This fear seems so powerful that some great players I know are working dishwashing and janitorial jobs, then playing crap pay gigs at night, but they won't even consider going out and playing on a street corner for tips.

There are some safety issues too I guess. I have had 2 horns stolen, been robbed 5 times, sucker punched and threatened with a knife twice. Another time I was threatened by a freak with a spear made of a cardboard tube with used needles taped to the end (no joke.) But I really don't think that's what's stopping most people.

I personally think it's a class thing. Having always been on the bottom of society, I've learned not to care what bourgeois types think of me. I have friends in low places and that's good enough for me. But people who grew up more privileged, they are terrified what other bourgeois types will think of them (homeless? druggie? drunk? mentally ill?) I guess personally I would say that unless those people are paying your rent for you, what they think means jack sh*t!
 

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I actually got an upcoming busking gig right before Christmas. It's downtown on a night when stores are all open late for last minute shopping. I've been hired to play xmas tunes right outside of a shop. Won't have a tip cup though, so it might be confusing.
 

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And often these are players that are still living with Mom, or working day jobs they hate, and practicing hours and hours every day at home earning nothing.

I think this explains a lot - these are people who have either 1) some sort of idealized version of how things are supposed to be, and/or 2) have an attitude because they are insecure about the fact that they are losers, so they need to bring everyone else down.

Given that Christina Aguilera and Jimmy Fallon have busked, they should just shut up and let you play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPwuLLL64HM
 

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There are some safety issues too I guess. I have had 2 horns stolen, been robbed 5 times, sucker punched and threatened with a knife twice. Another time I was threatened by a freak with a spear made of a cardboard tube with used needles taped to the end (no joke.) But I really don't think that's what's stopping most people.
My question is why it isn't stopping you!

It's one thing to be willing to accept certain increased risks for a job you really enjoy, or that pays nicely. But in your case, it appears that the risks have been realized as substantial harms -- over and over again.

If it came down to a choice, I'd rather wash dishes than be stabbed. I can always play my sax at home.
 

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There's nothing wrong with busking. I've done it myself. I've been mugged as a result too, but that's not necessarily why I don't do it anymore.

The reason I don't do it anymore is because I don't think people value it. I've been poor and homeless. I know what people really think of that and how they react. That's how they react to busking. No thanks. I think it's fine if someone else puts themselves out there like that, but I won't do it anymore.
 

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There's nothing wrong with busking. I've done it myself. I've been mugged as a result too, but that's not necessarily why I don't do it anymore.

The reason I don't do it anymore is because I don't think people value it. I've been poor and homeless. I know what people really think of that and how they react. That's how they react to busking. No thanks. I think it's fine if someone else puts themselves out there like that, but I won't do it anymore.
Case in point and something that really solidified my decision to forego busking. I was in New Orleans for the NO Jazz Fest and was busking for old time's sake. The people I was there with were appalled. I got mugged. What's this good for? I probably lost $100. Busking is a waste of time in my opinion.
 

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All pro playing is 'busking' - only the circumstances vary. If a person or group plays 'for the door' the busking simply moved indoors. If you play for a set price the busking is getting good depending on how high that price is. If you can make a living at it you're a professional busker. And if you get famous at it, you're a star busker. Those of us who look down at playing for tips should follow the words of a famous saying; 'Let not the pot calleth the kettle black'. To tell you the truth, I looked down on it myself before reading your post and thinking about it. However, the safety aspect is a serious concern and most of us would not take that gig at almost any price. so in turn you should take it easy on those of us who won't do it. Heck, on last night's gig it was very cold even though it was in a building - at a college frat house with all the doors open in an unheated room. About 50 F in the room when we started and probably 40 F when we finished. It is basically impossible to maintain intonation at 50 F or below and the horns just don't work right - my baritone was flat as hell. All in all a miserable gig but lucrative, and we were never in any real danger. :) Still, we may as well had been outside as far as the weather is concerned, so its all relative.
 

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I've been busking since I was 12. I'm 30 now.

A few times I've had people lean down as though they were going to give me money and then steal some. Maybe 2 bux. Maybe 4 or 5. Probably about 10 times all together in the 18 years I've been doing it. I used to busk in downtown Vancouver at around 12 or 1 o clock at night for the bar scene. Very rarely if ever did I feel my safety was actually a concern. Now I'm older and have a family to think about I only ever consider busking during the day or with a friend at night.

That's a big game changer too though. Having a percussionist really makes people stop and listen because there is a groove going down. I started playing with a Cajon player who has become quickly one of my best friends. We can play all the same old songs I used to play but also we can break a tune down and jam a bunch because you are harmonically free still as if you were playing solo. I actually haven't busked without him in almost the last 2 years. We make significantly more money and it's a lot more fun.

We do this kind of stuff out on the street.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K54beCGOG7E
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
My question is why it isn't stopping you!

It's one thing to be willing to accept certain increased risks for a job you really enjoy, or that pays nicely. But in your case, it appears that the risks have been realized as substantial harms -- over and over again.

If it came down to a choice, I'd rather wash dishes than be stabbed. I can always play my sax at home.
You can get hurt washing dishes too. I slipped on a puddle of dishwater and cracked my head open about 23 years ago. My friend had an allergic reaction to degreaser and had to have skin grafts. I am honestly more afraid of repetitive stress injuries than those street punks. I do carry pepper spray and a wear a body camera though, because so much weird stuff happens out there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
There's nothing wrong with busking. I've done it myself. I've been mugged as a result too, but that's not necessarily why I don't do it anymore.

The reason I don't do it anymore is because I don't think people value it. I've been poor and homeless. I know what people really think of that and how they react. That's how they react to busking. No thanks. I think it's fine if someone else puts themselves out there like that, but I won't do it anymore.
I don't mind that at all. I've got the opposite attitude, I lack respect for the bourgeois. Having grown up very poor, I have nothing in common with them, and when society comes crashing down, they will be the first to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Case in point and something that really solidified my decision to forego busking. I was in New Orleans for the NO Jazz Fest and was busking for old time's sake. The people I was there with were appalled. I got mugged. What's this good for? I probably lost $100. Busking is a waste of time in my opinion.
It's made me about 100X the player I was when I started, that's one way it's not a waste of time. I'm getting paid to practice hours every day. It's definitely not for the weak, the timid, the proud, or those who give up easily. It's a rough game sometimes, but worth it, at least to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
All pro playing is 'busking' - only the circumstances vary. If a person or group plays 'for the door' the busking simply moved indoors. If you play for a set price the busking is getting good depending on how high that price is. If you can make a living at it you're a professional busker. And if you get famous at it, you're a star busker. Those of us who look down at playing for tips should follow the words of a famous saying; 'Let not the pot calleth the kettle black'. To tell you the truth, I looked down on it myself before reading your post and thinking about it. However, the safety aspect is a serious concern and most of us would not take that gig at almost any price. so in turn you should take it easy on those of us who won't do it. Heck, on last night's gig it was very cold even though it was in a building - at a college frat house with all the doors open in an unheated room. About 50 F in the room when we started and probably 40 F when we finished. It is basically impossible to maintain intonation at 50 F or below and the horns just don't work right - my baritone was flat as hell. All in all a miserable gig but lucrative, and we were never in any real danger. :) Still, we may as well had been outside as far as the weather is concerned, so its all relative.
I would respect that reason for not doing it, but I know that's not why most people don't busk. For most people it's a simple class issue. Pride. They don't want to be seen as "one of THOSE people."
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I've been busking since I was 12. I'm 30 now.

A few times I've had people lean down as though they were going to give me money and then steal some. Maybe 2 bux. Maybe 4 or 5. Probably about 10 times all together in the 18 years I've been doing it. I used to busk in downtown Vancouver at around 12 or 1 o clock at night for the bar scene. Very rarely if ever did I feel my safety was actually a concern. Now I'm older and have a family to think about I only ever consider busking during the day or with a friend at night.

That's a big game changer too though. Having a percussionist really makes people stop and listen because there is a groove going down. I started playing with a Cajon player who has become quickly one of my best friends. We can play all the same old songs I used to play but also we can break a tune down and jam a bunch because you are harmonically free still as if you were playing solo. I actually haven't busked without him in almost the last 2 years. We make significantly more money and it's a lot more fun.

We do this kind of stuff out on the street.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K54beCGOG7E
I love Vancouver. Too much tolerance has ruined west coast cities from Vancouver to San Diego. The street rats are taking over.
 

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There are some safety issues too I guess. I have had 2 horns stolen, been robbed 5 times, sucker punched and threatened with a knife twice. Another time I was threatened by a freak with a spear made of a cardboard tube with used needles taped to the end (no joke.) But I really don't think that's what's stopping most people.
sounds like a load of rubbish to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
sounds like a load of rubbish to me.
Well that's because you don't have a clue. Sounds like you live somewhere nice and peaceful, slow paced, a bourgeois aquarium? A tuba player in Seattle was shot and killed 3 years ago busking downtown for an opera crowd late at night. It's getting very dangerous since the looney radicals in city council started allowing tent cities in the parks and on the sidewalks, attracting lowlifes from all over the country with tolerance and handouts. My friend Bob is missing his front teeth from an incident fighting off people trying to rob him after busking all day. Just read the daily police reports of any major city and get yourself an education.
 

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Well that's because you don't have a clue.
actually i have done bucket loads of busking all over the world.
its being attuned to your environment that helps one stay in touch with feelings of the general public around you.
one can get a kick up the pants if not keeping ones eye/feeling on the space around you.

i suppose also what the heck one is putting out with the saxophone you hold,as it is a very "in your face instrument".
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
actually i have done bucket loads of busking all over the world.
its being attuned to your environment that helps one stay in touch with feelings of the general public around you.
one can get a kick up the pants if not keeping ones eye/feeling on the space around you.

i suppose also what the heck one is putting out with the saxophone you hold,as it is a very "in your face instrument".
Sounds like a load of rubbish to me.
 

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I've never done it but sounds fun. Being a solo thing, I could work on tunes- memorizing, outlining chords, keeping time- and maybe get some tips in the jar- all for practicing.
 

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I've thought about doing it, but never have. I'd also assume that the location (and time) you choose would have a lot to do with how safe it is. I'd imagine that you'd want somewhere with a lot of tourist foot traffic, if such a place exists, and in daylight if possible. Weekends maybe would be best?

As an example, I don't think I'd do this downtown at midnight.
 

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Do you need a permit from the city for busking? Also- maybe because I'm a woman- but I'd be armed to avoid the issues you guys suffered (mugging, etc.).
 
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