I tried busking and failed...

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by claes, Apr 20, 2019.

  1. Keefsdad

    Keefsdad Tele-Meister

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    I've done it quite a bit the last couple of years. it's really good practice. Trying to be heard above the noise, playing to a mostly uninterested audience, etc., is quite challenging.
     
  2. Deeve

    Deeve Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Remove the word "busk" and substitute "first time playing steel strings w/ high action" and op will see he's just tender and noticing lack of callous.

    Sorry your "tips" are a little sore.
    With a bit more time out there, you focus on more effective song styles as well as strengthening your presentation style.

    I recognize the confidence issue. Solo playing is still a challenge for me, too. Friends say it just takes time, selection of material and callous development (fingertips or soul) and then it's just another opp to share your story.

    And getting paid - that can remain a secondary issue.
    Peace - Deeve
     
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  3. scrimmer

    scrimmer Tele-Afflicted

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    Heed some of the advice here and keep at it.
    I've done it a few times in downtown Charlotte a few years ago. (Charlotteans actually call it 'Uptown')
    It became known as that because its downtown is actually on what is pretty much the highest elevation in the city.
    It was fun. Not a money maker by any means, but fun. And yes, wear a funky hat/sunglasses or something; it works.

    Now it's not busking, as I don't put out a box for tips, but I often go to the Mint Hill Veterans Park with an acoustic and sometimes my mandolin and just jam on a park bench or stand in one of the picnic shelters if unoccupied and play and sing. Almost always end up with a few folks around enjoying it and a few times have had a sing-along. Enjoy this much more than any busking I've ever done. Met a lot of cool folks and made some new friends this way.

    Just keep at it and have fun!
     
  4. Ron R

    Ron R Friend of Leo's

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    The Crocs are no for me, dawg. How does one get all dressed up cowboy style and decide Crocs are a good way to finish the look?
     
  5. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I always chose closed spaces with some reverb to the acoustics, which I enjoy hearing myself in.
    Then I set up where I could be heard without being in the way, and played for the sheer joy of it.
    Subway stations often have great acoustics, and some semi indoor mall areas are good as well. When playing fiddle with a singer guitar player we didn't need those spaces since we had volume, but I'm not a pop music player, more Jazzy free improv + emo, like angry emo. If there is such a thing.

    Those who liked it had to make some small effort, and move toward us.
    Unless you need to work a crowd, volume isn't as important as connecting to the music.
    The world is full of loud.
    The world is lacking in connection.
    Aim for the connection.

    Now and then a crowd gathered and sometimes I wondered if I'd sold out!
    Silly thoughts of my youth...

    Overall the only reason I know to play music is because I love it.

    I say do what you feel like doing and hope others feel it too!
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
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  6. Gytrpykr

    Gytrpykr TDPRI Member

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    I see no failure here. I’m 51, have played in hundreds of clubs with ant least ten different bands, and I’ve never had the guts to go busk on a street corner! Find what works, and roll ahead!
     
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  7. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Afflicted

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    Those are the black dress up Crocs. And the hat is more of a lawn mowing hat. And there’s something wrong doing a solo act on a B Bender Tele with a boutique Princeton. The fatigue mat is the pedal board substitute, having holes cut in it to fit pedals and hold them in place.
     
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  8. El Marin

    El Marin Tele-Holic

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    Go, go again

    Take it as an outdoor rehearsal... then if you get some coins, just go to the nearest bar and spend it on beer and some food if possible. It tastes different when you got it playing

    My tip is: FLEA MARKETS. Lots of people and plenty of time walking and buying so maybe the spare change falls in your guitar case. Then, spend it at a local pub so you start "making a neighbourhood" and people start knowing you and maybe they will call you for any gig and there it goes
     
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  9. smartsoul72

    smartsoul72 Tele-Meister

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    Doesn't sound like you failed. Sounds like you learned something
     
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  10. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Tele-Afflicted

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    You didn't fail.
    You've said you won't quit.
    You finished up with ideas on how to be better next time.
    What else is there.

    PS
    Stop being so hard on yourself.
     
  11. ClashCityTele

    ClashCityTele Tele-Meister

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    That's not busking. That's just a one-man outdoor gig.
     
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  12. mudbelly

    mudbelly Tele-Meister

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    I second the advice some have given to choose your place to set up. Some kind of door way or overhang can offer natural acoustics. While I don't fault professional buskers in places like New Orleans for using amps and such my little town sponsored busking weekends for awhile and there was a local music teacher that formed a group of his students up to play with PA blasting. Made it hard on the other buskers.
     
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  13. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    There were quite a few similar setups in Harvard Square where I played sometimes.
    Tons of tourists, Harvard students plus all the other colleges kids, food clothing and gift stores, coffee shops, all languages spoken at once. Overall a very noisy area so the PA setups were needed for playing in the middle of it all.

    Also plenty of spots that were less noisy, which of course didn't have the crowds.
    Many spots like big 500-2000sf stone entries to choose from as well with moderate traffic and less noise, but great acoustics.
    Harvard Square was and may still be a destination for professional buskers.
    Some of these players paid all their bills busking.

    For that matter I had a roommate in Brooklyn who was an old Jazz drummer who never quite git the gigs after Cecil Taylor fired him in maybe '59 at a Newport Jazz fest.
    He made his entire living playing at the South Seaport with a trombone player and another piece.
    The loft lease was in my name and every month he handed me 500 $1.00 bills!
     
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  14. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    I only busk very occasionally, but my experience matches yours in several ways:

    - Keep it simple.
    - Sing and play loudly.
    - Find a spot with foot traffic.

    And I'd add this: Talk with people. Be friendly.

    Whatever works for you works for you, but for me, amplification is a crutch. One guitar and a case or a hat to catch money in are all I'm comfortable being out on the street with. (And pocket the money from time to time so no free-enterprise type tries to make off with it. It's hard to run with a guitar around your neck.)

    I write a lot of songs and, unlike yours, they do suck. But the audience doesn't know that, and I don't tell them. I just sing and play 'em as entertainingly as possible. The rest is karma, kismet, and alignment of the stars.

    As for stage fright, I used to get it bad. But then I developed a fatalistic attitude: everything that can go wrong will go wrong, and most of the things that can't go wrong will go wrong, too. That certain knowledge frees me to just bite the silver bullet, swallow my gum, throw caution to the four strong winds, and get down to it.

    Also, I like playing with people. That way I'm not playing at people. I should try it solo some time, though, so I don't have to split the tips. So let us know what else you learn. Most of us check in at TDPRI's acoustic page often.

    The first and fourth videos here are me busking with friends: Slim's Got the Blues
     
  15. Bergy

    Bergy Tele-Meister

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    Solo performance is not to be underestimated regardless of the intended crowd. Congrats for putting yourself out there. That alone should serve as some consolation as you plot your next musical adventure. Don't get discouraged.
     
  16. straightlbues

    straightlbues TDPRI Member

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    Wow! you really expected to be great the first time you did it. What have you ever been great at in life the first time you did them?

    I have gigged a lot. Every time I play a new place I learn something and am better the next time. I adjust volume, and material all the time.

    Take the lessons you learned (singing louder and hard picking) and develop songs around that and get back out there. After a few shows, you will be good at it.
     
  17. Aaron Schiff

    Aaron Schiff Tele-Meister

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    Here is a Youtube video of Joshua Bell, one of the world's great concert violinists, busking in a station of the Washington, DC Metro. In 45 minutes he collected $32 and only one person recognized him. She paid him a verbal compliment and said she had seen him in concert, but didn't contribute any money. This was an experiment by the Washington Post. Busking is hard work.
    I offered to accompany my grandson playing violin Christmas carols when he was 10 years old and cute enough to make some money, but he turned me down. Otherwise, if I were to busk, I would just do it for myself and leave the money and attention to chance.
     
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  18. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Afflicted

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    That’s a slightly higher rate of pay than the typical $100 per person in a band, for a 3 hr gig.
     
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  19. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Afflicted

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    Fiddle busking has a long history. They’d play it upside down, behind their head, between their legs, behind their back, standing on one leg on a barrel.
     
  20. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yup, sounds like he did well. Too bad he didn't have a barrel to hop around on . . . .
     
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