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Old 07-02-08, 11:37 PM   #1
Jim
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Bunny Diminishing Hats? Diminishing Attention Spans?

I was chatting with a writer/artist friend the other day about my experience with street performing (and variety performing in general) over the last 5 years or so. I stated that, overall, hats were lower and the attention span of audiences seemed to be much shorter than they were 5-10 years ago. I gave him my theories as to why and he decided to write an article about it. (The article may be published on a website read by a rather large community of artists and purveyors of the arts.)

He would love other opinions from other street performers to give the article a wider viewpoint. So I thought I'd toss this out there...

Have you experienced lower hats lately?

Do you find it harder to attract/hold a crowd's attention?

If not, what have you changed in your show to adapt? What shows are working well these days?

If you could request one thing of your audience, what is the most important thing you would ask them for before/during/after your performance?

Do you think the web, in general, and specifically sites like YouTube and iTunes and other instantly downloadable entertainment has affected the way people perceive buskers and live performance?

Do you think mechanized human interaction (texting, cell phones, facebook, myspace, blogging, online gaming, etc) has affected the way people respond to a live street show? How?


This isn't meant to start a bitchfest. Hopefully it will generate some serious discussion on the current state of street performing. If he has follow up questions, we'll post them here.

Thanks!
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Old 07-03-08, 01:08 PM   #2
jeep caillouet
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Default Hi, Jim

Hi Jim , I've never had a chance to chat with you before but I would like to say thanks to you first for starting tihis performers web cite, but I'm sure I'm not the first. This for sure is the best place for all performers and others to express their self about performing and their performances,That is unless your visiting , I just got laid last nite , how was I .com? So my hat's off to you for I have reunited my self with many long time friends that I've made along the way busking around the world! First off I'd really like to know what your theories are about diminishing hats and diminishing attention span? As you stated you shared with your friend. Now I'll respond about your esquires... I asked several weeks ago about this on this blog "how's your hats been lately " Well they suck here in Key West and I ain't kidden! My best response was " I get $2.00 beers where I work " Now ain't that creative! Oh gotta go but I'll be back though some body wants to some a fatty... then I'll finish the rest of your questions...
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Old 07-03-08, 02:18 PM   #3
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Hi Jeep,

You sound drunk.

To answer your question, I didn't want to start off the thread with my opinions and theories because I don't want to set the tone of the thread. I'd rather let some people throw out ideas and then I'll chime in. But to give you an idea of my theories, you can read between the lines of the questions below.

Sorry to hear Key West is sucking for you.
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Old 07-03-08, 03:22 PM   #4
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In Thailand "smoking a fatty" is giving a blowjob to a chubby guy. Please be more specific Jeep.
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Old 07-03-08, 09:05 PM   #5
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Hello Jim,
Good subject , I will answer your questions with my twopennies worth,,
Here we go ....


Have you experienced lower hats lately?

No, actually the paper count has gone up

Do you find it harder to attract/hold a crowd's attention?

No, I think I've got better, but have been working mainly one pitch for a couple of years

If not, what have you changed in your show to adapt? What shows are working well these days?

I've tried to change to be different from all the other acts on the block. The shows that I see work best are the non-generic unicycle shows.
Shows with more laughter and less hype.

If you could request one thing of your audience, what is the most important thing you would ask them for before/during/after your performance?

before-Commitment
during-focus/money
after-money and safe travels home

Do you think the web, in general, and specifically sites like YouTube and iTunes and other instantly downloadable entertainment has affected the way people perceive buskers and live performance?

Yes I think people perceive us better now that they can see real talent on you tube etc..

Do you think mechanized human interaction (texting, cell phones, facebook, myspace, blogging, online gaming, etc) has affected the way people respond to a live street show? How?

Yes with phones, texting etc, people are creating 'unfocussed bubbles in the crowd' that we have to close up to gain total attention, giving us a bit more work to do.

Nick
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Old 07-04-08, 02:34 PM   #6
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Default Where to start?

Hi Jim, your right I probably was a lot loaded yesterday,thats why I tried to gracefully bow out ,I guess I didn't do to good! Their's not many better and more creative entertainers than Nick Nickolas, and through your web site I was able to reconnect with him. Nick was the person I was thinking of in my last post here yesterday. I've known Nick some 25 years and worked several pitches in America and Canada along side him.Again I'd like to say thanks to you. I'm not new to creative writing,so let me establish my self. Tom Wopac the co star of the TV show Dukes of Hazzard, Broadway star,movie star,and country music star and I'm sure just all around star, recorded one of my songs on his country music album that went to # 40 on the billboard charts "Too many Honkie Tonks on my way home". Yea Tom. And this brings up Butterfly man, Rachail, Gav, Martin,tipsy taxi And some others, including your self Jim.You guys blow me away on creative writing ! And I am envious as hell. And I'm not kidden! You guys entertain me to no end with all those descriptive adjectives you use, and I hope I can be as as good as y'all some day. One last thing before I get back to the original post. Michail I've never been to Thailand before , but my friend Noodle Man hangs out there all the time ,and he tells me there is a blow job bar on every corner there.Maybe I'll get a chance to experience you there some day! I'd thought you being from California you would have known that a fatty was a buddy sticky green substance from Holmbolt County California that one smokes. Back to the original post,Thanks Nick I couldn't have said it any better except the money is way down here and the attention span seems to be real short and that makes us have to work a lot harder as you've already mentioned.Oh yes, Jim Key West doesn't suck,but the money sure does right now...I'm out'a here!
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Old 08-02-08, 12:01 PM   #7
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Default Good question

This is a good question. It's hard for me to answer, because I've only been street performing for about 8 or 9 years. Also, my show, I believe has got worse in that time, there's no structure, no set jokes, no consistency, plus a few other things missing as well. I can say, I don't waste a whole lot of time building up my show, and for some reason (though it has not showed in the form of more money in my hat) I feel like audiences appreciate this more. I think it's just common sense for us performers to realize that people have more ways (someone said mechanized devices such as ipods, lap tops, etc) to entertain themselves than ever before. I think people are asking for more steak and less sizzle (I didn't say Sizzler).
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Old 08-05-08, 02:32 PM   #8
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Thumbs Up Lower hats?

I've been busking for about 18 years now. When I first started out my hats were light and mainly pocket change. As I began to figure out how to entertain folks on the street (with the help of watching other performers and P.Net) the mix slowly shifted from pocket change to dollar bills. Today I seldom get coins and a greater proportion of larger bills. Several years ago my first 20 came as a great and welcomed shock to me.

Yes, the economy has affected us in many ways ($5.00 a gallon made me rethink my biennial drive to Alaska this summer) but for me it is continual honing of my entertainer skills (if not my musicianly skills) that has led to steadilly increasing hats.

Yes, there is a palpable diminution of the attention span of an audience -- so my show has gotten a LOT tighter and depends more on getting the audience to laugh.

Before the show: Get up here close.
During the show: Participate.
After the show: Thanks for your support!

Can't tell you how many people shoot video and post it on their blogs. If I have a chance, I ask them to use my stage name so Google can search on it.
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Old 04-17-09, 11:29 AM   #9
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Default NYC Hats Much Lower

Dear Jim et. al.,

Since 9/11 the hats in NYC are much lower.

Are you serious?

Sincerely, Josh Weiner, South Street Seaport 1992-present.
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Old 06-22-09, 11:20 AM   #10
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hey guys,

I'v only been doing proper circle shows for the last 6 months and my hats have only taken the expected summer/winter decline.

I can't really speak on this topic only to say, my feeling about youtube and that sort of thing is that its a two fold thing, people have seen jugglers and other good preformers now get posted around (in my country the only jugglers people would have seen are probably me or my other two friends) and I think they appreciate the skills more because of it.
Only now instead of people saying my uncle can juggle 7 balls, they say, i saw this guy on you tube juggling 50 balls with his mouth while singing the russian national anthem. it just means the competition has just got a lot stiffer, but people will still laugh more at something live with lots of people to share the laugh than by themselves in the office cubicle looking at you tube.

Devin.
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Old 07-08-09, 02:57 AM   #11
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good thread, jim.

as a musician, i have certainly experienced lower hats and cd sales over the last few years, slowly beginning to ascend again. i hope. i think the internet and digital culture has led especially the younger generations to believe that music should be free, downloadable and instantly attainable. the instant gratification crowd is the one that i find most difficult to deal with. the attitude is often that music/art is totally free and totally accessable at all times. why would they pay me or anyone else?

as a yardstick, i have been performing mostly fulltime at renaissance festivals for 15 or so years now. not quite the same as the naked street (as it were!) but still within the context. i am, however, heading to barcelona next week and london in mid-august to suss out the street scenes. a few circle shows have told me that the busking is hard right now. i am hoping that i can knuckle my way through with music and make a decent showing. will report from the field! tra-la-la!
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Old 07-12-09, 12:43 PM   #12
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If you could request one thing of your audience, what is the most important thing you would ask them for before/during/after your performance?

Attention/2-Way-Communication/Fair Monetary Exchange



Do you think mechanized human interaction (texting, cell phones, facebook, myspace, blogging, online gaming, etc) has affected the way people respond to a live street show? How?



A live street show allows for a very close, unhampered personal connection with an audience. There are live forms at each end of the communication line which allows for a very honest, human experience.

The techno-mechanical world inserts barriers between human beings that takes away from that high emotional experience.

Most of us chose the street as an outlet because of this very honest, open way of performing.

There's a real world out there. I like it better than virtual ones.


Ever notice that you become more like the thing you communicate with? If people communicate with people, they continue being people. If they communicate with machines and gadgets, I find they become more machine-like - unfeeling, unspirited and unconscious....
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Old 07-12-09, 03:02 PM   #13
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Money any way you want to say it $$$$$$$$
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Old 04-03-12, 02:45 PM   #14
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Default AHA!

This thread was started back in 2008, but things some things have not changed.
In this Sunday's Boston Globe magazine, mention is made of this weekends "gamers" convention... east.paxsite.com.
According to their spokesman, digital games now represent the world's dominant entertainment industry. "It's three times the size of the music industry," says Timothy Loew, head of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute. "Last year it surpassed box office revenues."
The above is quoted directly from the Boston Globe. I think the ramifications for those of us in the live entertainment industry are self evident.
Another thing that I have noticed since I un-retired from busking in March of 2011 is that many people now travel with earbuds in their ears.
So it is harder than it used to be. I am far more skilled than I was when I started thirty years ago, so it is still worthwhile in many ways, just very rarely lucrative.

So to answer your questions:

Have you experienced lower hats lately?
I only doing the subway as a busker these days. The $$ are just slightly better than they were in the 1990's when I was last very active.

Do you find it harder to attract/hold a crowd's attention?
No, but my skill level is far better.

If not, what have you changed in your show to adapt? What shows are working well these days?
i have the same philosophy that I started with, which is to do what I like and hope that others share my opinion.

If you could request one thing of your audience, what is the most important thing you would ask them for before/during/after your performance?
$$$

Do you think the web, in general, and specifically sites like YouTube and iTunes and other instantly downloadable entertainment has affected the way people perceive buskers and live performance?
Not sure...there may actually be a positive effect.

Do you think mechanized human interaction (texting, cell phones, facebook, myspace, blogging, online gaming, etc) has affected the way people respond to a live street show? How?
yeah, it definitely makes it harder, sometimes impossible, to attract someones attention.

I'm not complaining, just noticing and commenting. After all, I have a nice gig this afternoon.

Ciao - Kevin m....The Sing-along with Kevin M. show, Boston, MA
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Old 04-03-12, 07:41 PM   #15
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Working the subways and the streets with my button accordion I find that there are a LOT more people plugged into their music players than ever before, but I think that these are the people who otherwise would have ignored me anyway.

I find that there is another group of people, the people who are ALIVE and IN TOUCH with their surroundings. These people haven't isolated themselves, and continue to respond as they always have. My tips go up and down and don't seem to be based on anything other than the time of the month (best after the 15th, worst after the 30th), and the night or day of the week (best when people are in a going-out mood, worst when they're coming home from work).
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Old 04-08-12, 09:26 PM   #16
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It's an interesting question. I am a face-painter, so I'm not exactly a "busker" - I only work for tips when I am paid some sort of base salary, otherwise I charge or work on "suggested donation basis" as I provide personal service. I do mostly festival vending, and before recession I did a lot of state fairs and did really well there, but I do not do it anymore, as attendance took a nose-dive since 2008 and the fairs are not dropping admission fees and vending fees, actually some of them are raising booth fees every year! And less and less people spend money on anything other then rides and food, all vendors are complaining! If a state/county fair wants me nowadays - they have to pay me to be there, not the other way around! As to free city festivals - I do not see much difference in attendance or how much folks are willing to pay for face-painting...
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Old 04-14-12, 02:27 AM   #17
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Default false recession

the recession only hit certain industry's people are actually spending more now than ever.
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Old 04-15-12, 02:50 PM   #18
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I think this thread has been going a while, and perhaps i already replied.
Still, in 2012 i started my season 2 months earlier than usual due to exceptional weather and despite the fact that Croatia is probably going through it's toughest finacial times of the last 10 years, I made average to above average hats (based on last 8 years). That is good, but considering general expences are higher, it could be better.
I'm certainly not complaining though !
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Old 05-17-12, 06:51 PM   #19
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I feel like everyone's afraid to admit the truth!! Damn you optimists and sugar-coaters!!

Observation 1:
I am definitely getting better at street performing (living statue), since I seem to be collecting a much higher ratio of large bills to coins.

Observation 2:
Although the quality of my hats is better, I'm only earning about 60% of what I have been earning over the past 3 years in Ontario. Fewer people are giving me money (but more people are taking photos and watching my performance).


So the quality of my hats is improving, but the overall amount I'm earning and the number of people giving me money has really diminished. I've spoken with several other buskers in my area that have noticed the same thing. Wages are going down for middle and lower class and what buskers earn reflects that.
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Old 05-17-12, 07:11 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoey Gould View Post
I feel like everyone's afraid to admit the truth!! Damn you optimists and sugar-coaters!!

Observation 1:
I am definitely getting better at street performing (living statue), since I seem to be collecting a much higher ratio of large bills to coins.

Observation 2:
Although the quality of my hats is better, I'm only earning about 60% of what I have been earning over the past 3 years in Ontario. Fewer people are giving me money (but more people are taking photos and watching my performance).


So the quality of my hats is improving, but the overall amount I'm earning and the number of people giving me money has really diminished. I've spoken with several other buskers in my area that have noticed the same thing. Wages are going down for middle and lower class and what buskers earn reflects that.
it's impossible for wages to go down for the middle class, if your wages go down you leave the middle class and enter the lower class. however this has not been the case were I live most of the time. here hat's have been 50% more by volume so far this season.
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