We chose that spot because recently Faneuil Hall Marketplace management (Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation and the Merchants Association) have put in stupidly restrictive regulations, most likely attempting to force the buskers out.
So, what do the tourists say about buskers?
Good things (always).
Five Star Reviews of Faneuil Hall Marketplace
I only went through the first 60 reviews. Of them, 19 (as in, 30% of the five star reviews) said the street performers were either the best, or one of the best, reasons to go there. Almost 1/3 of the people giving the TOP rating talked about the street performers.
Four Star Reviews
I skipped the four-star reviews because you know what to expect from people who had a generally good time.
Three Star Reviews
Again, I only went through the first 60 reviews here, but here are the five quotes about buskers:
“The real fun here is people watching, and you can get some great photos of break dancers, performers, and the crowds enjoying themselves.”
“Some fairly talented street entertainers were performing standard street-fare.”
“The street performers were generally interesting, if you could catch a glimpse through the crush of people.”
“Typical Tourist Trap, but enjoyed people watching and street entertainers.”
Perhaps the most revealing of all:
“I’ve read all about the amazing street performers here but saw none today during my 4 hour visit So disappointed.”
So, all positive about the buskers. The negative things people were saying were about the rest of their experience.
Two Star Reviews
In ALL of the two-star reviews, there were only three mentions of the street performers:
“The best part were the street entertainers, 3 or more shows at the time. You can spend all afternoon enjoying the show.”
“Go if you never been there but really just for the street performers.”
“The most appealing aspect of Faneuil Hall are the entertainers–jugglers, magicians, singers”
That’s people who gave FHM a generally poor rating, apart from the street performers, who were either the ONLY reason to go, or the “best” and “most appealing” aspect.
One Star Reviews
There is only one mention of street performers in all the one-star reviews. Was it negative? No. In fact, the commenter’s problem was that the buskers were so popular that it’s too crowded to enjoy a show.
So why was Faneuil Hall Marketplace getting such terrible reviews?
The food is too expensive
The food is bad
The shops sell cheap, overpriced trinkets
The place is just a shopping mall with no surprises
The history tour doesn’t have enough history
Conclusion: Are buskers good for tourism?
Yes. Argument over.
We didn’t find a single comment about the street performers was negative in roughly 200 reviews that we checked. In fact, even commenters who recommended against going to Faneuil Hall Marketplace generally enjoyed the street performers.
However, there was a common thread among almost all of the negative reviews: FHM is a tourist trap with bland, overpriced shops, food and stalls.
Buskers are the best reason to go.
So yes, they are GREAT for tourism.
If you’d like to do a similar study of TripAdvisor reviews of your pitch, do it yourself, then let us know what you find!
Well, anger and fear are two of the most motivating emotions (especially when it comes to voting). So there’s good scientific reasons why comments are crappy; happy people don’t feel any need to comment on internet articles (the same is mostly true for the mentally stable, employed people and adults).
But there’s also a lot of misunderstanding about street performers. This is partly why we’re here.
So, without further ado, here are our suggestions for reasoned, calm ways of responding to stupid, ignorant comments about buskers.
If you disagree with any of them, let us know in the comments!
“Buskers are beggars”
The old joke is that buskers are “beggars with a gimmick”.
But busking has social and economic benefits for society. It provides a solid income for artists in overcrowded and underpaid professions. It makes up for revenue lost to digital streaming services. It’s good for tourism. It’s promoted by several governments around the world. It creates destinations and cultures. It connects people to the places they’re in. It embodies “placemaking”, the urban planning concept that is increasingly promoted by UN Habitat. Buskers are flown to festivals all over the world.
If a beggar picks up a drum and starts hitting it just to get more attention, are they a busker? That depends on how you look at it. So yes, there is a grey line at some point between the two. But there are so few beggar-style buskers out there (despite how much people complain about them) it’s barely worth thinking about.
In other words, 99% of busking is very, very far away from begging.
“Buskers don’t pay their taxes”
I go with two different arguments on this one:
First, some buskers live below the poverty line, lower than the starting tax brackets. Others make so much money that they have to declare their income, because nobody’s keeping $40k in coins under their mattress.
Just like all other professions, some play by the rules and some don’t. But unlike many middle and upper class people, at least their tax evasion (when it happens at all) isn’t stored by the million in undisclosed foreign banks. In the unlikely situation that they are hiding money under the bed, at least it’s going to be recycled back into the local economy. Or go up in smoke…
Secondly, and more importantly – many artistic institutions are given non-profit status for various reasons, including:
programs for people from disadvantaged backgrounds
their reach with regard to children
and they pay artists (i.e. support the arts).
Which of those reasons is NOT doubly true for street performers? Buskers’ audiences are so diverse they put other scholarship programs to shame, they are the first artistic experience that many children have and 100% of the money goes to artists.
Of course everyone should pay their tax. But why wouldn’t you give buskers the same breaks as other cultural institutions?
“Buskers are annoying/loud/talentless”
It’s true that SOME buskers fit the above description – we’ve all met them. But they are in the minority. The vast majority of street performers abide by common sense rules, are incredibly talented and are often very successful. You cannot look at an audience of hundreds of people clapping and cheering and think that the street performer in the middle of it all is objectively talentless. Eye of the beholder.
“Nobody cares about buskers”
Robin Williams, Tracey Chapman, B.B. King. If you like any of them, you care about buskers.
And Steve Martin, Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, Woodie Guthrie, Manu Chao, Amanda Palmer, Penn Jillette (from Penn and Teller), Norah Jones, Kanye West, Joni Mitchell, Pierce Brosnan, Edith Piaf, Blue Man Group, Beck, Simon and Garfunkel, Sting, Leonard Cohen, John Butler, Glen Hansard, Cirque du Soleil and Benjamin Franklin.
Ever met someone who hates Robin Williams? Or doesn’t care about any of the above names? Of course you haven’t. Buskers are a major part of our culture.
“Buskers are commercial entities”
This one is a more complicated concept to address, so it has the longest answer. In short, though, money raised through entertainment is not bad money.
For example, I ask everyone I know to name one artist that we BOTH know about who doesn’t make a living out of their art; ticket sales, music sales, commissions, advertising, television fees…you know, normal art income. And to sell tickets or get on TV they normally have a manager, PR person, security guards, record label and all the other stuff that goes with being an artist.
Buskers don’t have any of that stuff.
A busker’s audience has not been swayed by a savvy press department, the cult of celebrity or the personal tastes of art critics, nor by lavish surroundings, fancy lighting or massive PA systems. On the street it’s just an artist and their audience, where payment is voluntary and when it does occur the price matches how much the audience member thinks it was worth.
People focus on the money that buskers earn because it’s lying there in the street, in full view, in front of everyone. It isn’t being forced through sales or product placements or native ads. So people are curious; how much do street performers earn?
Ed Sheeran used to busk on the street, with no boundaries between artist and audience, singing material that nobody had heard before. He had cash in his guitar case.
Now, he’s about to sell out the 17,000 seats at the Hollywood Bowl, at $30 to $90 a ticket. That’s a single concert earning between $500k and $1.5m. To be as transparent with his earnings as he was when he was a busker, he should have that money piled on the front of the stage.
We’d love to hear what you think about the above arguments. How can they be improved? What other criticisms do you get?
This is one of the funnier comments on a recent Boston.com article about the proposed boycott of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace pitch by disgruntled street performers.
Other comments included:
“No one goes there hoping to see them. Few people even know of their existence. Slightly more people would be content if they just went away.”
“Oh no, you mean if we go to Faneuil Hall we won’t get to see dozens of people playing the tambourine and begging for change?”
Things were worse at the Boston Globe:
“So what. Yawn…”
“Don’t go away mad. Just go away.”
“Like they actually declare their real income, tax cheats all.”
“How much would it cost to keep this strike going indefinitely?”
“Panhandlers going on strike? Goody! If you want to get paid for performing, do what every other musician, dancer, artist, etc does….work your way up the ranks as everyone else does….Giving them your pennies is not different than giving the homeless your change that open the door for you at 7-11, or those holding up signs that beg for your cash.”
It looked like people were against the Faneuil Hall Marketplace buskers. But why? What were they complaining about?
We looked into it.
First of all, here’s what the buskers were protesting about
Management at Faneuil Hall initially proposed the following regulations. Buskers…
would have to pay a $2,500 annual license fee (the biggest we’ve ever heard of)
must keep the noise below 70db (less than ambient noise levels)
can only use one shared hat line (to be decided by management, and used by all performers)
can’t mention any specific denominations
must perform in temperatures over 60º (even up to 95º or more)
must finish their show once they’ve started (they can’t stop if no audience builds).
can’t miss their slots
will be expelled from the program if they break the above rules twice.
It’s the most restrictive and arbitrary license we’ve ever heard of. And ludicrous! Who’d decide what the hat line should be?
Songwriters with head colds or hand cramps would have to sing till their set was over. And sunblind, sweaty-handed jugglers would risk damage to just about everyone within a few hundred feet.
Faneuil Hall buskers would effectively become the unpaid employees of the owners, beholden to their whims.
And they’d have to pay an extortionate amount for the privilege.
It’s the kind of relationship that court jesters used to have with kings – perform when we tell you to, make sure we like it and be grateful if we allow you back tomorrow.
And this, next to a building nicknamed “the Cradle of Liberty”.
Management dropped a couple of features in their proposed license (the fee and the single hat line), but kept many of its most offensive features, like the threats of expulsion for minor infractions and deciding what conditions the buskers must perform in.
Management was being as controlling as employers but on PUBLIC property, without pay.
But, as you’ll see, the response wasn’t great. Below is a summary of the arguments.
I’ve put the number of times each of these arguments came up. In case you think my maths is wrong, several negative comments included more than one argument, so the total number of negative arguments is greater than the total number of negative comments.
Total number of comments: 55
Neither for nor against: 8
Negative arguments: 38
Nobody cares about buskers: 7
Buskers are lazy (i.e. akin to beggars): 7
Buskers don’t pay their taxes: 3
Buskers are annoying: 16
Buskers are just commercial entities: 3
Buskers are talentless: 2
Positive arguments: 16
Buskers are artists, arts should be defended (arts): 3
Buskers are good for tourism (tourism): 3
Buskers do pay their taxes: 1
Buskers are entertaining/great (entertaining): 4
Overregulation is bad (freedom): 2
Buskers are a local cultural thing (Boston): 3
It’s just online comments. They don’t matter.
That’s true. But we have to defend street performers properly to the people who are most vocally against them. Otherwise, it will appear that twice as many people are against buskers than for them.
Busker amps that’ll sound great and take a beating
“It doesn’t matter how talented you are. If you’re not loud enough, no one’s going to give a shit.” — William Shakespeare
There are no shortcuts to becoming a good busker. No magic beans, no enchanted hat lines, no secret society of street performers that meets below the road at dawn. Much like calculus or a really hard jigsaw puzzle, it’s just one of those things you’ve got to work at.
That being said, having one of these busker amps sure as hell won’t hurt you.
That’s why we at The Busking Project have put together a list of five of the best portable amplifiers on the market, for your professional reference and viewing pleasure. We’ve tried to feature only self-contained, aesthetically pleasing equipment that allows for volume, range and clarity without sucking up too much power.
I should also note that all amplifiers have been screened and field tested for their ability to withstand: heavy kicking, dropping, spilt beer, stray dogs, fire, measles, gypsy thievery, extreme heat, bear attacks, and small bolts of lightning. Everything but police confiscation, really.
So, ten days and a few irate music store proprietors later, here we are. Please enjoy, and let us know if you’re aware of anything better that’s out there! We have, on certain infrequent occasions, been wrong.
#5. Peavey Solo Portable PA (CH-D)
Size: 14.8” x 8.6” x 14.8”
Weight: 15 pounds
Power: 10 watts
Battery Powered?: Yes Buy on Amazon (USA)*
For its size and price, this little guy puts out a remarkably clear signal at solid volume. Sure, it looks like the department store practice amp that comes with your first guitar, but when cranked, whatever magic tiny speaker they’ve got in here will scream.
Distortion becomes a problem at high volumes, but only toward the very top of its range. Actually lends kind of a cool 60s rock-and-roll vibe to electric guitar signals, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into.
Power comes either from a standard AC plug or 8 D-Cell batteries, and goes to a single 8-inch speaker. It features two channels (which work remarkably well together), one XLR input, and two 1/4” jacks.
Other than the dual EQ dials, there really isn’t much tweaking to be done here, so you can plug in without worrying too much about levels or dynamic adjustments. We suggest worrying about your hair instead.
Recommended for singers, acoustic guitarists, or anyone who needs their backing tracks amplified to fill a relatively small, (probably) indoor space. Think tubes, train stations, and uncrowded street corners.
#4. Marshall AS50D
Size: 21.34″ x 16.38″ x 10.28″
Weight: 35 pounds
Power: 50 watts
Battery Powered?: No Buy on Amazon (USA, UK)*
Before we get into this one, you should really just take a look at it. All those knobs, the nice vintage casing, that tasteful Marshall lettering across the grille. For a busker, using this amp is about as close as you’ll get to doing your act beside a shelf of leather-bound books while sipping brandy. The thing is just classy.
Think of it as the Peavey’s handsomer, more successful older brother. It’s got precise controls for volume, bass, and treble across two channels; simple digital reverb; and a sweet, subtle chorus function that’ll make your music as nice and swirly as you like (or not). The effects are clear and pronounced without swallowing the signal, so you’ll get studio-quality guitar and vocal tones pretty much anywhere.
Due to the wooden casing and two heavy Celestion speakers, this thing can get a little clunky if you’re carrying it over long distances. But in true Marshall fashion, it’s all but indestructible. Just be sure not to drop it on anybody. It comes with a warranty, but legal fees are up to you.
For singer/songwriters who want a smooth, warm sound at high volume, you won’t be able to do much better than this.
Watch Gordon Giltrap review it at Marshall’s headquarters here:
#3. Fishman Loudbox Artist
Size: 13.5” x 15.5” x 11.5”
Weight: 25.5 pounds
Power: 120 watts, bi-amped
Battery Powered?: No Buy on Amazon (USA, UK)*
Like the Marshall, this one is geared primarily toward singers and acoustic guitar players. If you aren’t one of those, we’re very sorry, but they’re everywhere. Hang tight and we’ll get to you.
Anyway, despite an absence of that distinct Marshall tone, the folks at Fishman amplification have added a few extra specs that make this an invaluable tool for any serious, streetwise performer.
It’s the middle product in their ‘Loudbox’ line—which also features 60w “mini” and 180w “performer” options. By far, it’s the best option for playing for crowds of more than 15 or fewer than 5,000. (Seriously, you could set up the “performer” amp in East London and sing to people in Scotland).
But the real appeal here is the meticulous, godlike control you’ll have over your sound (pretty rare for busker amps). Each of the two channels features 3-band EQ with feedback controls, and the effects panel is massive, boasting combinable modules for reverb, chorus, flanger, delay, echo, and slap echo. Anyone know what slap echo is?
Of course you don’t, but you want it anyway.
If there’s any drawback here, it’ll be the amount of fiddling you’ll have to do to get a sound you’re happy with. But even with this many options, you’ll have a hard time getting a disagreeable signal out of this hi-tech speaker system, which comprises an 8” woofer and a 20w soft dome tweeter.
If you have no idea what that last bit means, you’re not alone. Fortunately, the folks at Teufel Audio have a wonderful blog that’s pretty nifty for learning about the more technical sides of all the busker amps we’ve put up here. Check it out here.
#2. Roland CUBE Street Ex
Size: 19” x 13” x 12”
Weight: 16 pounds
Power: 50 watts
Battery Powered?: Yes Buy on Amazon (USA, UK)*
Roland has long been the go-to brand for clean, versatile sound on the streets. They’ve come out with over 50 amps for guitar, bass, keyboards, and vocals, each of which seems tailor made for musicians who need portable, inexpensive gear that’ll fill up a room of any size.
With the CUBE, however, they’ve made an amplifier that actually is custom-designed for buskers and street performers. At 16 pounds, it’s probably only a bit heavier than your backpack, and its slim profile makes for easy luggage on trains, planes, or taxis. It’s got four channels and four speakers (two woofers and two tweeters).
If you have no idea what that last bit means, you’re not alone. Fortunately, the folks at Teufel Audio have a wonderful blog that’s pretty nifty for learning about things like that. Check it out here.
One channel is an “Audio In” port (for things like backing tracks or accompaniments), another is a simple, unaltered “Line In,” and the remaining two are more traditional inputs for microphones (via XLR) or quarter-inch compatible instruments. There’s a tuner, 3-band EQ, reverb, chorus/delay, and an audio output jack for those who’d like to use it as a standalone speaker or onstage monitor in a PA system.
Perhaps most importantly, we’ve got a solid, accident-proof grille cover, and the ultra light casing feels sturdier than even some of the metal ones we looked at. For the price, this destroys the competition. Violently, and without remorse.
#1. Stuff and Things M4K Stuffed Thing
Size: 11” x 7” x 5”
Weight: 8.8 pounds (stuffed), 7.3 pounds (thing)
Power: 150 watts (yes, really).
Price: Approximately $1200 – $1800 (depending on your specs)
Battery Powered?: Yes (Buy it here)*
Ok, fine. This has been a pretty unfair fight the whole time. Pitting any other amp against this little system is a little like setting up a basketball game after you’ve stacked the home team with Michael Jordan, Lebron, Larry Bird, and Jesus Christ (in his prime, of course).
What you’re looking at is an amplifier designed by Nick Warburton from the Norwich-based theatre company Stuff & Things. Travelling around to put on (absolutely hysterical) shows with two other members, Nick identified a need for some good, full-sounding, battery powered busker amps, which really didn’t exist at the time. Even the CUBE, for instance, won’t pass for carry-on luggage on a plane.
So he disappeared into the lab—or the factory, or the drawing board–and used his extensive background in engineering to come up with this thing.
It’s got more features than we could possibly list here, but a few highlights include 150 real watts of power (bigger companies find ways to bend the truth on this all the time), and an acoustically transparent carrying case that won’t block the sound should you want to use the amp while covered. The knobs and jacks are simple, and the casing is probably bulletproof (that we forgot to check, but feel free to order one and try).
Most importantly, what you’re getting is a full P.A. system, not just one portable unit. There are two incredibly loud boxes in the set, one called ‘stuffed’ and the other ‘thing’, and you can use one without the other without sacrificing any sound. Although, since they’re both smaller than shoeboxes, you might as well set them both up and shake the walls.
What have we left out? What’s better? Any other good battery-powered amps?
*The Busking Project has an affiliation account with Amazon
B.B. King came home in the back of a big black car, rolling like a windswept rag over Route 61. He moved unhurriedly through the Mississippi Delta, down from the jubilant, confetti-ridden streets of Memphis to a small city on the banks of the river called Indianola. They’d bury him there the next morning.
When he pulled in there was a celebration on the streets, though nothing like the rowdy jazz funeral they’d thrown for him up on Beale Street. There was a reverence to this one, some regal sense of weight, a grave importance.
People lined the streets and sidewalks for miles. They gathered on rooftops and under overhangs, playing his records from apartment windows and jacked-up car stereos. All morning, the streets were rife with music. They let it play long after the hearse went by, when, after eight long decades of wandering, B.B. King came back to the only home he ever had.
B.B. King’s humble beginnings
Not that he was actually born or raised around there. The apartment buildings and sprawling manor houses were as alien to him as the ocean or the Amazon, and the stuffy working class people moved in this languid manner that he never quite understood. He came up only on occasion, from a little village down the road called Itta Bena, where he was born in a wooden cabin. When he wasn’t occupied at church or picking cotton in the fields, he’d make trip on his own, setting out on foot to busk for loose change. Making it home for the next morning’s wake-up call meant he often had to head home long before dusk. He always did.
The place was only of any real use to him during the day anyway, when the sun was up and the hot, unpaved streets were full. On summer afternoons, the town square was alive and bustling with ladies, lawyers and men of business, rushing through their days, but ready to listen. They were his first audience. The only one that ever really mattered.
He’d stand out on the sidewalks and street corners all day, running through old songs and gospel hymns he’d picked up in the church choir. They hit the air gently, like tissue paper on soft September grass.
Developing his voice
In those days he sang with a wonderfully sweet tenor, still unscathed by the whiskey, cigarettes, or sleepless nights on the road. The chords he could figure out came from a used guitar that he picked up for $15 with the wages from his fieldwork. When he bought it, he told the clerk that he’d be a famous blues singer.
The instrument was a terribly worn, ragged thing, made of rusted metal and cheap wood. The neck would bend in heat, and the strings sat so high off the fret board that getting any good notes out of them could draw blood from his fingertips. All the flat sevenths and major thirds got lost in a dissonant sludge, and the melodies went down and drowned with them. At his disposal, Riley B. King had no traditional chords, no one else’s words, and no tested, pre-written melodies.
What he had were an instrument and a busker’s audience of passersby, neither of which was under any obligation to give a shit about him.
So he sang what he knew: little rhythmic poems about heartache, hard luck, and loneliness that had just started coming down to him on black radio stations. They were simple, and called only for a clear voice and two or three chords at a time. It was music that appealed to something primal in people, some basic part of their being that went untouched for most of the day. Like all the good stuff, his songs were honest and repetitive, with room enough for the expressive, world-weary wail of his guitar.
Playing with strings that’d hardly give him notes, he learned to bend them till they did. Under his hands the guitar became something else, an extension of his soul that expressed things you can’t get out in words. That style—the double stops, syncopations and hard bends—is what’ll live on long after his death.
There’s a power to those riffs and phrases that keeps people imitating them now. They come sweetly to the ear and mimic the sounds of the human heart, with an intimacy that’s hard to learn if you’ve never been a busker. He developed them to reach people on the streets who hadn’t paid to pay attention to him, and kept it up long after he was packing clubs and concert halls.
Remaining humble, despite fame
The audience widened and the stages got bigger, but B.B. King never really outgrew his roots. He didn’t have to. The music stayed subtle and enveloping, technically brilliant without any hints of pride or self-indulgence, and he never stopped giving it to people.
He didn’t do it for money or notoriety, refusing to call himself “King of the Blues” even as the rest of the world did. What kept him going for years, after he could barely walk or lift his arms, was a firm belief that music was what he was put on earth to do by God.
He knew that like he knew the sun was out or the ground was beneath his feet. Just like a good busker should.
A band tried giving Noel a CD during a set in Boston.
Noel Gallagher gets security pass it up to him, takes a look, then belittles the band.
In case you can’t see that image, he’s says, looking at a blank CD, “There’s not even a f$*%ing name of who it is, or what it’s called, or a phone number, or nothing“, while the crowd laughs.
If you don’t know who he is, Noel Gallagher was songwriter and lead guitarist for the (possibly soon to reunite) self-aggrandising and grumpy band Oasis.
Noel asks the band what their name are. “‘The Memo’? Do you f#$%ing get the irony of that? A CD with nothing written on it by somebody called The Memo”.
The point: this is exactly what street performers do the whole time, performing to massive audiences with nothing to signify who they are.
We may have the answer to that. If you want an easy way to show people who you are, how to get in touch, where to buy your music and how to hire you for gigs, you can do so with just one URL.
So, Sign up on The Busking Project, and make yourself a sign.
Beat of the Street
New Team Members!
Okay, that’s not quite “beat of the street” (i.e. “political”) news, but it is amazing. Finally, a bunch of people who aren’t me, talking to you. 2 buskers (one our communications person, one a mixed-media editor) and 2 writers. Woohoo!
“Liberty argued a public space protection order (PSPO) proposed was unlawful and would ‘criminalise homeless people and buskers.’” And “Liberty lawyers Jason Coppel QC and Deok Joo Rhee claimed the proposed PSPO was unlawful on a number of human rights and common law grounds.” Thanks go to the Keep Streets Live team for their efforts!
Jeffrey has built a full 30-minute contact juggling show. Any “skill based” show can get boring and/or disconnected if done wrong. Contact jugglers don’t do comedy. Comedy breaks the magic. Jeffrey found a way. Watch his performance here!
The Busking Project is an organisation set up to support, celebrate and promote street performers. We’re a small team with limited resources doing our best. If you’d like to get involved, we’re always looking for volunteers. Thank you for the support! Visit us here: busk.co
May I introduce myself first as a musician (Etarist.com), born and raised in Europe, now a part time resident of Florida.
Out of my passion for street performance I’ve been operating a mobile stage in Europe for 25 years (roadstage.com).
The demand for this utility vehicle within the street performance community is ever growing.
We now seek funding to renovate our road stage for the next 25 years as well as establishing an infrastructure to maintain and operate it at a wider range.
This fundraiser gears towards making a documentary film to show our work and so better appeal to potential sponsors.
The story begins with the fall of the Berlin wall and the great influx of enthusiastic, creative people into western Europe. One of those was Michael Tchoubouroff who wanted to become a film maker. We were roughing the very beginnings of the RoadStage together and now he’s reconnecting with me as the owner of Weeblefilms.com to make the documentary!
What’s the opposite of a slick marketing campaign?
This. This is the opposite.
First, we moved to buskr.com. Then we found out that the name, Buskr, was already taken (Doh!), and moved yet again to busk.co. You’d have thought we’d send out a newsletter letting you know this fundamental info about where we are… (we didn’t)
It gets better.
We also launched a busking music platform with Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey, called Busking Unbarred. It promotes buskers in 400 venues around the UK. We…didn’t email you about that, either.
We’re not even telling you when we win things! In January, Nominet Trust gave us a grant to make a mobile app (set to release in August). Again, silcence on this end.
Put simply, the fact that we’re still here insults the entire marketing profession.
(We’re aiming to change our ways)
Beat of the Street
Criminals of Culture?
Those who were once considered the cultural ambassadors of our art forms, the sacred keepers of our rich heritage, are now treated like criminals and beggars. See two previews of a film about Kathputli Colony, the World’s largest colony of street performers, with 3,500 families currently facing eviction.
A NYC corporation and local merchants association have landed the street performers of iconic Faneuil Hall Marketplace with a repressive and pointless set of new regulations. Bizarre, funny and tragic, we felt it warranted an open letter to the powers that be.
Despite the council’s claims that they appreciate the musical buskers of Grafton Street and Temple Bar, new restrictions limit noise levels to lower-than-ambient levels, essentially criminalising the act of performing at all. Grafton Street was famous for its lively artistic atmosphere. Now, buskers have to adhere to strict new rules, including steep fines, a busking permit and more.
One immigrant’s fairly benign actions in Thailand sparked a debate may have gotten the law changed for buskers across the entire country. It looks like all buskers will have to seek permission from authorities.
The Busking Project is an organisation set up to support, celebrate and promote street performers. We’re a small team with limited resources doing our best. If you’d like to get involved, we’re always looking for volunteers. Thank you for the support! Visit us here: busk.co
Yes, I am a little biased when I feature this man’s work (I’ve been a contact juggler for the last 10 years), but I am a sucker for people who put a new spin on contact juggling, and Jeffrey Calafato’s work with geometrical shapes is unique both in the juggling world and in the busking world.
Building a full 30-minute contact juggling show is difficult to say the least. Any “skill based” show can get boring and/or disconnected if done wrong. Contact jugglers don’t do comedy, as comedy breaks the magic, magical effect contact juggling.
Jeffrey pulls it off with his addition of the geometric shapes. His work is captivating, scientific and spiritual wrapped into one!
I am going to have to travel to Taipei and see Jeffrey Calafato’s show one day. Until then, we will keep an eye on his profile (and viral videos of his show) for updates.
Thank you Dawn for the kind words in your article. You have warmed my heart at just the right time when I needed it the most. Sometimes art can be tough on the soul. Smile emoticon. The cultural architecture you give back to the community will always be paramount.
Even though we have never met, I know you are a great performer and beautiful person, just the kind of people I enjoy collaborating with. Humankind needs more people like you. I look forward to meeting you someday, until then I hope life finds you pleasantly surprised on the path of synchronicity.
As we said in our last newsletter (sign up here), The Busking Project is pretty-much the opposite of a slick marketing campaign, and the fact that we’re still here is an insult to the entire marketing profession.
Still, our dream is to become a platform where street performers (and their fans) come to digest all the latest news and entertainment in the world of busking.
Step 1 is, of course, to lessen the impact of the waffling I do here by adding new voices.
So, we’ve just hired two new writers and a community manager to help realise this dream (read: drown me out). Hooray, new team members!
Dawn Dreams, Community Manager
First up, Dawn Dreams, who has worked with us on-and-off for the last four years or so. Dawn is a street performer – a golden human statue, tennis-loving clown, and a contact juggler. She is a social media addict who will be updating all the various profiles and keeping the new writers hopping with assignments. She is currently on a European busking tour and is writing in a bi-weekly column to the Flow Arts Institute.
LeAndra Langhorne, Staff Writer
LeAndra Langhorne is a proud Brooklynite, but just embarked on a 4-month exchange program in Australia. She is a college senior studying English and communications who is writing a musical and tutoring students on the side. She plans on taking the advertising world by storm. When she’s not planning her take over she’s binge watching Friends, posting about it on Twitter, and scrambling another pair of eggs….all of which are essential to her sanity.
Sean McGowan, Staff Writer
Sean McGowan is a writer and recovering singer/songwriter from Brighton, Massachusetts. He was raised on Billy Joel albums and Stephen King novels, and remains a sucker for very sad folk songs. He’s currently pulling together a collection of short fiction, and contributes a bi-weekly column to The Heights.
Isadora Frost, Mixed Media
Isadora is a body artist; she holds degrees in theater and Performance Art in Brazil, and in New Genres from San Francisco Art Institute. As a street performer herself, she knows buskers’ needs first-hand. Isadora will be creating beautiful videos for us – we’re getting back to our roots!
Let us know what kind of stuff you’d like to read about.