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Internation busking advice!

Travel Forums Round the World Travel Internation busking advice!

1. Posted by EJW2010 (Budding Member 7 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Hi all
I am planning a trip around the world through Europe and Asia and into Australia and I want to support myself by busking, probably with a saxophone, possibly with an amp for backing tracks (using a Boss LoopStation and microphone to create the backing tracks live on the fly by beatboxing/singing/saxing etc), but the by-laws for busking are different from city to city and on top of that it's impossible to know whether or not the police will actually take any notice of illegal buskers, for instance in the UK there are by-laws in some cities stating that you can't busk but the worst that will happen is they will move you on and in many cases they don't even bother to do that. The same goes for whether or not I need to have a work permit to busk outside the EU (I'm a UK citizen), not to mention how it would work in terms of paying tax. The final issue to address is whether or not it is possible to make realistic money in each place I'm interested in visiting - I'll be going through poorer countries like India and those in South East Asia and I don't know what the busking culture is like and if people would give me any money.
Could anyone with experience or knowledge offer advice? I will write below a list of countries I'm thinking of visiting so if you know anything about specific places in these countries perhaps you could offer some advice. You could even suggest places that are not on my list if you think they are really good for busking. It will be useful to collate this information in one thread for other people who need to know, because it's difficult to find all this info in one place!
thank you so much guys!

here's a list of places I may be visiting:
Jersey, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, India, Nepal, China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji.

2. Posted by Chris Lafosse (Budding Member 7 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!


I am new to these forums.
i have spent a year living of a guitar, hitching round europe and the USA.

first thing i would advise is that playing for money is a whole new ball game, than playing for fun.

because you are performing for other people, you need to consider what they what like to hear, and how they would like to hear it:

-offer them a chance to connect with you.
A person is much more likely to stop and listen if it is a song they recognise. simply because those songs, for them, will resurface old emotions. memories of an old relationship, past adventures, tough times, happy times, etc.
many times when someone stops and listens, they will be reminiscing.

-same but different.
play songs that people will know, but in a different style. people appreciate you playing popular songs, then will adore you for putting your own spin on it. such as taking a fast song and slowing it down, or a slow song and speeding it up.

- a quiet spot
find a spot with benches, where people can chill out, relax, sit down, and spend a good 10 minuets listening. i dont recomend finding the busiest street in a city, because people are in a rush, and its noisy.
these days, i like to sit down, it makes other people more happy to hang around and listen.

-seed money
when setting up put down a bit of money in your 'hat' to start of with. a strange crown phsycology trick where if you 'show' people that your successful, then they are more likely to give you more money.

-analyse the mood
as you play, take note of how popular different songs are to the listeners. build up a list of songs that flow together quite well

i would not recommend using an amp with a backing track. people will appreciate you for giving them live music. backing track is not live music, for prerecorded music they can listen to thier MP3 players.

i hope this helps. feel free to ask if you have any more questions.

have an amazing day

3. Posted by EJW2010 (Budding Member 7 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Thank you!
I busk in the UK so I already know about the basic busking tips, but the idea of picking somewhere quiter rather than busy is a new idea, one I'll have to try. I'd say from my experience that the more people the better, especially at night when playing near clubs for drunk people which is my preferred method, in fact I find day time busking unrewarding in terms of audience response and money. But I may well be doing a lot of couchsurfing and having to stay in at night so as not to wake up my host at four in the morning! So sunny parks and city centre fountains may be an interesting option.
As for the backing track, to me it's live because I create the backing tracks on the spot with the loop station, but you make a good point because most people walking by don't see that bit and I tend to get most of my money while playing the sax, not while I'm beatboxing or singing. I think the money comes in quicker when I'm just standing playing sax by itself, however I have a lot more fun when I've got a backing track to play off and I can generally stand out there and play for way longer cause I have more ideas that way and I don't have to fill all the space with my sax, I can leave more gaps, so overall I reckon I get more money by using the loop station and amp, even after paying for the batteries. Not sure if I'm willing to haul my equipment around the globe though!
Which countries did you busk in Europe? Did you have problems with the police?

Cheers, hope your busking is going well wherever you are!

4. Posted by Chris Lafosse (Budding Member 7 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Hi Emily

Apologies, i just realised that my post was in regards to general busking rather than location.

Last december i got fed up of the cold here in england, so i hitched south to barcelona, leaving with £30

£20 of that went to the ferry across the channel. once in barcelona, i spent my days sleeping in the park overlooking barcelona. i would wake up about mid day, wonder down to the ally ways around plaza real for around 1300hrs and playing guitar in front of the terraces outside cafe's.

I walked up to a terrace which had at least 3 tables full, play 3 or 4 tunes on the guitar then take of my christmas hat and go around collecting money.

When i first heard about this way of busking, i didnt like it, as coming from england, it is very frowned upon, considered 'begging'.

But i was told time and time again by other europeans that this is the way to busk, a much more direct manor.

I did about 6 terraces in 1 hour, and made 20 to 30 euros. more than enough for the day, as i got all my food from dumpster diving.
if your ever in barcelona, get to know the other street folk. they are usually very nice and know where to get a LOT of free stuff.

Barcelona is a haven for being poor.

In regards to the playing for terraces, its important to note, that you are intruding on people's privacy, so be delicate.
because you have a considerably different instrument to me, i'm afraid its going to be a learning curve.
I can definitely say i annoyed a few people when i first started. you have to sense the mood, the reactions of people, as you play, and learn what works and what doesn't.

5. Posted by EJW2010 (Budding Member 7 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Sweet, did you hitch to barcelona all in one go? I once hitched from Schaffhausen to Manchester with a tent and it took me seven bloody days. I found the hitching scene pretty unpredictable over there.
I would feel really rude waving a hat in people's faces! Maybe I could just say something in Spanish in a cute English accent and people would warm to me. That's if I went to Barcelona, it sounds like an option to consider.
Dumpster diving is certainly another way to budget, I tried it in Scotland but mostly I found bread and cake, nothing fresh. Isn't it illegal in some countries? In England all the bins are locked away so you can't even get in there! I'd love to know more about dumpster diving, I need to see if I can live off it feasibly...
anybody been travelling to poorer countries and know something about the busking scene (or lack of?) over in Asia? I'm guessing they don't waste enough food there for me to go dumpster diving and there are more people in need of that food, but any advice there would be good too.
Cheers travellers