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Old 09-27-05, 11:33 AM   #1
rrussell
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Default Busker Revenue?

Hi everyone. I'm trying to get some insights into the world of busking. The community I work for doesn't allow busking but I'm trying to find some positive information about street performing.

What kind of range does a busker make in a day? I know it depends on where, when, weather etc. but is there a rule of thumb?

Thanks!

Rob
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Old 09-27-05, 12:37 PM   #2
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Very tricky question.
There are so many different types of art forms people busk with that it would be realy hard to even give an average without breaking it down into different catagories.
If you say what kind of busker you are thinking of, you may get a better response. Having said that, we're a pretty cagey lot when it comes to revealing this kind of info.
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Old 09-27-05, 01:47 PM   #3
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Positive info on Busking as far as money goes?
It kinda sounds like you maybe work for the IRS or it's brother, What does your insight go for and nobody that is a busker does it for the money "Right guys"
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Old 09-27-05, 02:40 PM   #4
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you can make a living at it, but you probably don't have what it takes ,(statisticly speaking, I don't know you so don't take it personally). You won't get lawer rich.

I tell people that I make about as much money as a very good and attrative waitress in a nice resteraunt. And I pay my taxes so the rest of you can eat me.

it is a lifestyle commitment.

It's a really fun job.

good luck.
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Old 09-27-05, 03:17 PM   #5
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Given your contact URL in your profile I would guess that you would be looking for a ball park figure being a component in some street based program feasibility brief.
Various city councils have run similar programs, they either pay fee's (with busk/without)or retainers (with busking)
The advantage with fee's and/or retainers is that there is very little external infrastucture employed, council wardens etc. Also it can be introduced experimentally and then scaled/modified.
Moneys from street performance range from $50 to $1500 a day
Anyone who can earn decent money needs to be induced towards your venue. Retainers provide this function.
I have been involved in programs where retainers were provided (via an admin casting service) over peak times over a 5 year period to stimulate local community to add to the acts over a few years.
Youd need to get a little more specific in order to be answered practically.
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Old 09-29-05, 05:25 PM   #6
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Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah... and ha fuckin ha...
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Old 09-30-05, 09:45 AM   #7
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Default Whose thumb?

Hi Rob,
There is no rule of thumb, except perhaps, You never know.
I wonder why you ask. Are you going to attempt some busking? Or are you going to be administering some kind of busking program?
Lately here in Boston, I've heard that hats are down, and expenses are up. Even riding the MBTA is at least $2.50 round trip. So it is actually possible to lose money on the deal. Rare, but possible. For example, if one has arrived in downtown or Harvard Square, set up at a spot, and started performing, and then it starts raining for the rest of the day, you are in the red for the day; generally crowds won't watch you in the rain; tough to do fire too.
As far as positive info, try this link:
http://communityartsadvocates.org/StreetArts.html
Good luck with your research. - Kevin M.
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Old 09-30-05, 11:41 AM   #8
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I feel OK posting numbers because I have not had the opportunity to pass the hat for many years now...

But the last time I worked exclusively on tips was in 1987, so it has been almost twenty years since then. I worked at a festival market place (similar in scope and theme to those in Boston) in Indianapolis. For a Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday half day I would take home between $500 and $1000 in tips. I performed a small juggling circle show at that site for the best part of a year.

And yes, I claimed it all on my tax return. Can't build a credit record without showing some income...

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Old 09-30-05, 01:32 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the responses, folks!

Why am I asking? I work for a tourism bureau and we currently pay entertainers to perform in town as bylaws restrict busking. I'm just digging around to see some positive alternatives (e.g. it may be more worthwile for our entertainers to busk instead of being hired at a flat rate)

Maybe another good question might be: Personally as a performer/ street entertainer, do you prefure to busk or be hired instead?

Rob
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Old 10-03-05, 02:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by rrussell
Thanks for all the responses, folks!...Maybe another good question might be: Personally as a performer/ street entertainer, do you prefure to busk or be hired instead?

Rob
Don't get me wrong on this, I LOVE to be paid because then I know how much is going to be there at the end of a show. However, busking is really where it's at! When sitting and counting your hat, you know that you did a great job and you know just how good you are by the size of the hat.

Peter
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Old 10-03-05, 08:13 AM   #11
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if you don't have a good venue to work, you won't keep any good buskers around, and you will have to pay them to work. If it's a good venue, or "pitch", you (might) have performers competing for space.
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Old 10-03-05, 08:36 AM   #12
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Default Strolling acts, workshops, attactions, atmosphere entertainment:

Some acts better lend themselves to being hired. A "High" profile strolling act can entertain in venues that are unworkable for a circle act. But, at least in my experience, while not condusive to passing the hat, can be highly entertaining!
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Old 10-03-05, 05:44 PM   #13
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Default It's my tangent...

...and I'll cry if I wanna.

This is a bit off-topic, but I'm betting many of you will get it.

I started out busking back in the day when I was young & single with no kids, no house, no car, no pets, no credit cards and no responsibilities. Ah yes, those were the days.

Now I'm married with 2 kids, several pets, 2 cars, a house, more responsibilities than I ever anticipated, and more bills arriving daily in the mail than ever appeared in my worst nightmares. Today I spent $1400 on supplies for my business at my local art store... and that's nothing compared to what I spend annually on advertising, gasoline, gear, hotel rooms and airplane tickets.

My point is that I really can no longer afford to busk. My expenses require that I work for a contracted fee that I can rely on and budget against.

I'm guessing that many of you are in the same boat. Rock it at your own peril.
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Old 10-05-05, 07:28 AM   #14
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Everyone has put up some very sensible answers and explanations to this age-old question.

Just to put my two-cents in the hat ( ha, ha ) doesn't it just piss you off to no end when you count up a huge mound of pennies after a show. You might have had a huge hat or a tiny one. It doesn't matter, counting those pennies is enough to turn me off busking completely. It's not the effort. It's the insult for what people think the show is worth.

And as for telling people what you earn, this is what I usually say these days, "I earn about as much as any self-employed business man. Some years more than others, some years less. But I'm certain that I could make more money with a "real" job. But that's the point. I love my job. I don't want a real job and it doesn't really matter how much I make."

That to me is a very honest answer and seems to satisfy their understandable curiosity.

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Old 10-05-05, 10:15 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rex Boyd
... doesn't it just piss you off to no end when you count up a huge mound of pennies after a show. You might have had a huge hat or a tiny one. It doesn't matter, counting those pennies is enough to turn me off busking completely. It's not the effort. It's the insult for what people think the show is worth...

But I'm certain that I could make more money with a "real" job... Rex
Just a couple of commenets, Rex. I don't even bother to count the coins. Just throw them in an old camping coffee pot that I have and when I get up to about 10 lbs of coins I take them to a CoinStar machine and run them through. Hey I've gotten as much as US$130 in a three month period.

As to the second comment about makeing more money at a real job. NO! I can't make more than I do now. I tried that bullshit for a long time. Never kept a job for more than 3 years until I started entertaining. been at it for seven years full time now and I am makeing more money plus I am a hell of lot easier to live with and happier now.

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Old 10-05-05, 10:17 AM   #16
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I appreciate the notion of talking down the amount one makes with tips, but I also feel that there is something to talking it up as well.

I think that part of the curiosity about money comes from audiences wanting to see you (the performer) succeed both in the show as well as in life. The idea that one can go out into the big world with nothing more than wits and a bag of tricks and beat the system by making a fat bag of money is very romantic and exciting and reassures us that there are still gypsies in the twenty-first century. Seeing the bills overflow the hat adds both a sense of perceived value and keeps the dream of being able to be a self-made person alive.

Having money come in begets more money. Success builds more success. Funny how group psychology works.

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Old 10-05-05, 10:31 AM   #17
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That's very true Steven. Gazzo used to finish his shows by putting his money away and saying "look how much money they gave me. I must be good. Just look at that."

Doing this drew a crowd of curious people who instantly became the beginning of his next show and the non-stop money machine was on his way.


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Old 10-05-05, 10:35 AM   #18
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I do the same with my coins (save them, no counting). I use what I need for parking and tolls and pull a few quarters for bottled water/juice, and the rest goes into a bucket and becomes my end of season bonus.
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Old 10-05-05, 11:19 PM   #19
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I had a boot. Used it to hold the change. Got to go into the bank once a week with the boot. The tellers always remembered me. Lucky me, I have big feet.

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Old 10-07-05, 12:13 PM   #20
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Default Insult!!.... or widows' mite??

As regards:

"It doesn't matter, counting those pennies is enough to turn me off busking completely. It's not the effort. It's the insult for what people think the show is worth."

There have been many occasions, where I have noticed [particularly] children, who might have saved their smaller coins specifically FOR being able to give the busker[s] something...

Also seen people empty the contents of their coin wallets, or pockets... large AND small denomination coins....

In the UK we have fairly small coins [worth 20 pence]. 5 of these make a whole Pound.. and they are extremely deceptive.....

Then there is the small "gift"..or the cup of coffee.....

What pisses ME off..... is shirt-buttons, and the like!!

Seeing NOTHING in the hat and not a SINGLE smile would be the only things to make ME consider quitting!!

Have fun out there!!
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