I tried busking and failed...

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

  1. claes

    claes Tele-Holic

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    At 55 (years) I am a decent songwriter but a horrible performer in the outskirts of folkish/open stage/ church circles. Now, everybody and his grandmother thinks he is a good songwriter but I'm actually decent. I can get a hole room to laugh or people approach me to tell me how moved they where by this or that song. Not every song but it happens. At least I'm decent enough to motivate my existence in my environment.

    But I really suck as a performer. Part of that is stage-fright (I can start to shake really bad), part of that is lack of self worth.
    Anyway now I decided to try to get better at it. If it's possible. If I can't, it's ok but I shall really try. And there's only one way to get better.

    Thursday was sunny and warm so I hit the street with my guitar. I purposely chose a spot with mild trafic (I wanted some trafic to get a feel for what I'm up against) but in so many ways I was ill prepared.

    First lesson. If youre going to play on the streets without any amplification forget about fingerplay. It's bom-chicka-bom with a plectrum or go home.
    Second lesson. Forget about any nuances in your singing. It's foghorn a la Brian johnson.

    I wasn't prepard for that. I didn't have the songs for it. And I don't sing like that. I have actually worked to lower my voice (keywize) and get a more folkish expression. I'm used to smaller rooms and/or microphones where that worked ok.

    I wanted to go home in the middle of my first song but stuck it out to six songs (had planned to do eleven...so I'm a quitter to).

    It's back to the drawingboard.

    I have all the amps (traynor tv50, mini passport both runs on battery), usb mixer and mics I need but feel I havn't explored all the possibilities yeat. Still think managing with just a guitar and voice without amplification would be the ultimate (amplification isn't always permitted).

    So I'm going to change some songs and how I play them (with a plek). Try to raise my singing half a key and really go for volume. I'l try going for the foghorn first and then adding nuances.

    Quiting isn't an option. At least not yet.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
  2. Tobias

    Tobias Tele-Meister

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    Good on you!

    I’m an amateur, with singing lesson, but used to do acoustic duo’s (me guitar, lady singer) outdoor at food truck / creative arts festivals. No amplification, so we wandered around (with permission of the festival), would ask sellers if they minded us playing 2 or 3 songs, take requests from a short pre-defined list, repeat.

    Plusses are: people are happy to see you in that setting, you get to repeat what you are good at, and the lack of volume is a bonus, as you can repeat the same stuff 15m away.

    Minus: if it’s windy. And we Made no money, but that doesn’t seem to be your goal.
     
  3. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Meister

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    Will the passport run on batteries? If not, maybe a little battery operated amp, I think Roland makes one. That might make it easier to play your way.
     
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  4. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Meister

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    ...and you didn’t fail, you discovered a less satisfying way to play outdoors.
     
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  5. tery

    tery Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Location , Location , Location .
     
  6. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Good on you for getting out there and giving it a go. I stopped at the local store last week and a young guy was busking, singing and playing acoustic. It was a pleasant change from the usual seven day a week rotation of different charities they usually have there. He was good but hard to hear and I was standing right in front of him. The traffic and background noise was drowning him out and this place isn't even that busy compared to most areas buskers are found . I think you need to use an amp even if it's a small one.

    Ideally if you are busking there are loads of people around so you have the potential to earn more money, with those loads of people things will only get worse with struggling to be heard.

    If you really don't want to use an amp then try playing in a semi enclosed area or in a corner rather than out in the open.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
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  7. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Afflicted

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    I just got a Passport Mini 2 days ago. I’m very happy with its guitar volume and sound quality for acoustic or Telecaster. The Fender Princeton emulation I really like. The vocal volume is plenty for busking. I’m looking for a headset mic (wired) so I won’t need a mic stand.

    Just strap the mini amp to my leg and walk around playing.
     
  8. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

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    That was a learning experience, not a failure.

    Without amplification, you'd need a somewhat confined area that still has people in it, and no vehicles nearby. There's a few of those in my town - and there's usually somebody playing there when weather allows.

    I might enjoy playing in a park, but there's usually not much chance of people passing by, there.
     
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  9. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    I have never used amplification but it did help that there were usually two us. The only rules I figured out were to avoid street corners (often too noisy) and go for a narrower street hopefully with a brick or concrete wall behind you.
     
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  10. kennl

    kennl Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeah
    First lesson I learned about busking:
    Acoustic guitar versus bus: bus always wins
     
  11. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I heard a guy with an acoustic and a POG. Got a lot of attention.
     
  12. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yeah! Don't quit!.....This was just your first time, keep at it and it WILL get better.
    What is your primary goal?.....gaining self confidence or getting donations in your open guitar case? If you want the money, play more popular and recognizable songs. If confidence is the objective, just play, play, play!
    You can use an amp if you feel you need to, but many successful buskers just travel light, with their guitar and voice only. Good luck.....and don't give up! ;)
     
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  13. Mr Scallywag

    Mr Scallywag Tele-Holic

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    Yeah, it's a tough gig. I tried it many years ago, but all I got was two homeless people trying to join in. One played my harmonica, which I disinfected as soon as I got home; it's never been the same since. It still smells of Detol nearly twenty years later.
     
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  14. tvvoodoo

    tvvoodoo Tele-Afflicted

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    I busked for a whole summer 30 years ago, a couple of tips... location, time of day. Twice a week or more.
    I found near a liquor store on payday a choice and lucrative spot. Also, wear an interesting hat to nearly double your earnings. Not a ball cap. Something off the wall. Even a gorilla mask, or whatever

    I was talking to a busker a couple years ago... things have changed since way back when... so many people carry plastic, no cash. But it sounds like that's not your motivation anyway. By the fourth time you will be an old pro and melt your anxieties away. sing and play purely to entertain in the troubadorial spirit, ain't no recording studio
     
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  15. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Congratulations on your determination and courage. I've got myself all ready to go busking, and I mean to, but somehow. . . .
     
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  16. ladave

    ladave Tele-Holic

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    Another 55 year old here.

    Wow, great story...maybe you could write a song about that experience. That sounds guaranteed to amuse some pedestrians. A song about how bad you are at busking.

    Anyway like others have said, I see no failure here. I'm envious, don't think I could ever do that.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!
     
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  17. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Afflicted

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    Then there’s busking with 2000 watts. Shady side of the street, under a roof.

    D535CC0E-9B4F-4326-8732-A476F9DDD9F3.jpeg
     
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  18. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

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    There's already songs along those lines. Here's one for inspiration:



    :p :lol:
     
  19. Tarnisher

    Tarnisher Friend of Leo's

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    Like everything in life, it all depends on your expectations and reasons for doing it. I busk regularly when the weather gets nice because I need to practice and I like to be outside. I don't use amplification, I only play my own songs, and I only adjust my technique moderately. If I play for two hours, have a few people take my card, and make $5, I consider it a good day.

    If I wanted to make money, I'd need to play indoors (on subway platforms), lug an amp, and play songs people know.
     
  20. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

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    At least this guy is doing his bit to keep Guitar Center in business! ;)
    ...and note: he's even standing on a fatigue mat!
     
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