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Old 04-05-01, 04:42 PM   #1
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Post How much can you make?


I'm a beginning street performer. (magician) I've been doing it casually while keeping my day job. I haven't made a whole lot of money. I'm aware that earning will increase with experience. I need to learn the skills of getting the crowd, keeping the crowd, and bottling the crowd.

Recently I got word that I'm going to be laid off from my day job with a generous severence package. I'm thinking of taking this modest stake and using it to finance myself to devote myself fulltime to masteering the art of busking.

I'm drawing up a business plan for this project. I'm having trouble with the revenue projections: I'm wondering how much one can reasonably expect to make in this business, and how long it will take to get there.

As you can tell, I'm taking this seriously. I'm not asking for pie-in-the sky promises, nor to be told "it depends", I just want some kind of reasonable expectation, so I can plan my budget and see if this plan is feasable based on my current bankroll.
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Old 04-12-01, 07:18 AM   #2
Prof Willie B
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Zack, no-one is going to tell you or anyone else anything about what they earn!

If you can create an act that is good enough, you will make enough money.

If your budget is your major concern, I can recommend "BT Managed Funds" or shares in "Yahoo" (now that they've enter the porn industry) and a return to your day job.

I really don't mean to offend but what sort of question is this? Do you really want to perform? If so, do it, now that you have the chance (God, I'm beginning to hate that word). Few of us have ever had the opportunity to enter this profession from a position of strength.
Forget your budget and get your Arts into gear and go for it.
PS., that is a very personal question.

[This message has been edited by Prof Willie B (edited 04-12-2001).]
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Old 04-12-01, 07:56 PM   #3
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You are so right Professor ... no way I'll tell anyone what I make on the street, but Brian Hulse just told me he worked for 36 straight days last summer. He said he did a minimum of 4 shows every day and his average hat was around $420 American (after the conversion) ... you do the math, Zack.

P.S Please keep this to yourself.
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Old 04-20-01, 04:49 AM   #4
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woooah there Robert,I think you need to put that into perspective... Brian works in Japan and besides , he's a bread head (no offence Brian) I mean he's a work horse , not all of us are into fleecing our audience for every last penny,most of us make enough to live well and pay our rent ,I could earn a lot of money in theory but in reality I feel greedy if I do more shows than I need to so I have always been fairly close to the bread line.... In my experience the only performers who can still make me laugh are the ones doing it for the laugb and the ones who make me sick are the ones doing it for the money I agree with the Prof. if you want to make business projections and targets etc then be a business man and leave art to the artists.
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Old 04-20-01, 07:22 AM   #5
martin ewen
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In a good year you can earn enough to buy 4 oxen and a wife.
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Old 04-20-01, 09:37 AM   #6
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AJJames wrote about making too much money... At first I thought this silly, but upon reconsideration, I must confess that I can relate. I made "good" money during the period of time that I earned my living exclusively on hat passing at Union Station, a festival marketplace trying to be another Pier 39 in Indianapolis. Coincidentally, I was sharing the "pitch" with Brian Hulse, also an Indiana boy. But, after about six months, I started feeling guilty about it. Not just for the money, but for the feeling that I should be doing shows rather than training or working on new material. After all, what's better than the tried and true for fat hats? The new stuff always suffers so the old stuff gets used as a crutch. I didn't like that constant nag in the back of my head telling me to go down to the station and do more shows.

The mentality led me to such conclusions as: Hey, if I just cut my show time in half, I could pass the hat twice as many times! Consequently, I would do three ten to fifteen minute mini-shows an hour, netting what would be considered “small” hats, but, since I could do ten to fifteen of these a day, I made more money that anyone else there. I didn’t even have to move my stuff, I would just wait for the crowd to turn over. After awhile, I realized that it surely was a dead end.

In retrospect, it was lucky that I was fired from that marketplace. They didn’t like me because I was too loud and cause too many traffic problems. (Though, the real reason I think is that I made more money than the manager.) One of the memories of that gig that still makes me smile is of me schlepping my stuff out of the site for the last time and running into my replacement as he came in to start doing shows. He apparently had worked many ren festivals as his props looked like they had gathered all the Middle Ages’ soot that hadn’t already stuck to his shirt. Oh yes, he also forgot to wear any shoes that day. Pity, when one is walking downtown in a major city. Good to know that this was the management’s idea of an upgrade. Sigh.

Steven Ragatz

.sig Who is still standing though Union Station has long since gone bankrupted, been abandoned, and subsequently burnt by arson.
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Old 04-20-01, 10:22 AM   #7
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I only got 3 oxen but thay didnt make me take the wife

no one can ansser that, you have the best show ever, in the best pitch ever, the economy is booming, you go to your spot and it poors rain! I've seen that befor
The adventure cont...
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Old 04-21-01, 01:32 AM   #8
Rich Potter
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For the purpose of projecting some ballpark figures:

Say you have a 5-minute show, and it makes $5. There are 60 minutes in an hour, so you can do 20 of those. That's $100 per hour. There are 24 hours in a day. You can make $2400 per day. There are 7 days a week. That's $16,800 per week. Then, 52 weeks a year would bring your total to $873,600.

Not quite a 7-figure income. I'd stick to your day job of doing stock analysis and asking nosy questions.


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Old 04-21-01, 05:59 PM   #9
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I made less than most other performers. I don't try for the big hats. I want to experiment with the ability to fail at the drop of a hat. Maybe it's that I'm afraid to try my best for if I do, I could acually fail.

You can do what my dad did. He made one of the 4 oxen his wife and with the money he saved, bought a speedboat.
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Old 04-30-01, 03:28 AM   #10
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If I don't break a grand a show, I get really cranky, and I'm no fun to be around.

Love Byron
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Old 05-02-01, 11:20 PM   #11
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I can tell you, but after that I have to kill you...
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Old 05-03-01, 12:46 AM   #12
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I'd Have to Kill First then Answer Questions !!
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Old 05-21-01, 08:36 AM   #13
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So butterflyman, there's no way you'll tell anyone what YOU make, but you don,t mind shooting off your mouth about about how much Brian Hulse makes. Something he probably told you (foolishly, I admit) in confidence
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Old 05-21-01, 11:02 PM   #14
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I never count it.
Still with all original members!
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Old 05-26-01, 01:00 PM   #15
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Location and timing are very important,
the bigger hats come from tourist crowds
with high turnover.
...any old music will do
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Old 07-18-01, 07:59 PM   #16
Rex Boyd
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I got this answer to the question of how much a busker can make from Windsor. He doesn't like computers so I'll write it for him.

You can make about as much as any other self employed laborer like a plumber or a mechanic. Yes they make something like $50 to $80 an hour. How many hours they work depends upon how good they are, how well they market themselves and where they work. It's the same for us.

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Old 07-22-01, 01:34 AM   #17
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How much CAN you make of how much DO you make is the real question. I just did a one day fest in Cincinnati OH and made $1000. I have had other times when I made less than $100 for a day. I usually average between $40 to $50 an hour.

This is a tricky business. That is why I LOVE it!
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Old 07-22-01, 04:23 AM   #18
Humanoid Gone Mad
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Big Hats are for people with Big Heads.
Iv told people in the past how much I make on the street and when you do you can see their brains do this little 'back-flip-thing' and they add up how much you do in an hour times by the hours in a day and the days in a week and the n their jaw sort of drops.. but thats not reality ... The reality is that for me and my show theres a peak of about 2 hour in a day to work and I dont work every day and the hours that I put in of the 'pitch' that the audiance never sees I dont get 'paid' for , well not with direct dollars anyway.

So Zack I think what it really comes down to is you've got to WANT to work on the street and perform because theres some thing else inside you , a passion that will keep you there even when the money is Crap!

One of the things I'v noticed and talked to a lot of other buskers about is; That when you go out thinking about the Money you dont get it but when you go out because performing is really what you want to do and your filled with passion then the money flows in abundance more than you could have hopped for or 'projected' in a plan.

So enjoy 'The Magic'

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Old 07-22-01, 09:51 AM   #19
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I couldn't agree more Humanoid!

It's the same for every performers, there is a time peak where it's best to perform each day. And it's true, I have noticed the same when you tell people how much you earn in an hour. They immediately translate that into their point of view which is 9 to 5, 5 days a week. These people have no conceptions at all of what the street performing reality is like.

Yeah, if I'd work from 9 to 5 and so 5 days a week and be paid as much as I make by the hour on the streets, I'd be rich. But to me it's simply impossible. I play saxophone, it doesn't seem like it but it's very physically demanding to play that instrument. It's impossible to play saxophone 8 hours a day. After 2 hours of straight playing, my lips start to go numb. And I immagine that it's gotta be the same for performers of all kind. You can't juggle or eat fire or anything else for 8 hours a day. Sure there are people who can do it for extended periods of times, but to what cost? I can play sax up to 4 hours non stop. But I know that past those 2 hours that my playing will suffer, I won't sound as good because of fatigue. And also I know that to keep playing such a long time that I'm risking to injure my lip and embouchure muscles. Depending on how serious the injury is, I can be 2 to 5 days without playing to recover from the injuries.

Plus, every hour of the day aren't the same. 10 in the morning or 5pm at night are waaay different, the crowd is different. So it's not very intelligent to risk injuring myself for an extra hour or two just to make how much extra? It's not worth it. Therefore, I rarely play more than 2 hours a day on the streets.

And a strange thing that I have noticed; performers who say they earn the most money are often the ones who aren't so talented. And are also the ones whom I've noticed that they stay outside , up to 10 hours a day and more, ready to perform at any time, cause they are so 'money-hungry'. Surely I think, that if they would invest less of their time out there and focus their energies in that 2 hours when it's best to perform, that their performance would be much better, and that they would earn more by the hour during those two hours.

I'm one of those who believes in quality rather than quantity. Plus, I find that it's much more fun that way.
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