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Busking modernised for a 21st century audience

Cashless payments, better social status and a paradigm shift

London, UK 10th March 2015: Today, The Busking Project, an advocacy movement for buskers worldwide, has launched a digital toolkit for buskers that will transform the way in which they make an income. London Buskers will be able to download special edition signs that enable them to accept cashless payments in the street, and turn passersby into long-term online fans.

The average amount of cash people are carrying in the UK has dropped under £20. This change in behaviour is putting the traditional art of busking at risk. With an increasing number of audience members having to ask, “do you take cards?” it is time for buskers to modernise.

busk.co (The Busking Project’s digital platform) enables buskers to embrace digital payments. They can print and display signs with a unique URL, e.g. busk.co/1234. Audiences can go to their online profiles, donate to them via PayPal, become a “fan” and hire them for gigs.

However, this is not just about money. Nick Broad, The Busking Project’s founder, has greater goals:

“We’ve released these signs today to help stop busking from dying out in a cashless society, destroying the livelihoods of thousands of artists around the UK.

“But this isn’t just a tech solution. We want a complete paradigm shift. At best, buskers are seen as failed artists. At worst they’re seen as criminals, or ‘beggars with a gimmick’ – and treated that way too. It doesn’t matter how good you are. Even Boris’ “best buskers”, the Kings Parade, were arrested last year in Leicester Square. The MET said busking is “a driver of crime”. Our FOI request, submitted along with Lord Clement Jones, proved that the MET’s statement was based on gangs and gamblers, not busking at all.

“We are hoping that using our service, buskers across London and the UK will become networked and involved with each other, so that next time a busker gets arrested a lot of people will find out about it very quickly. Hopefully if the cops are considering arresting someone, and they see one of our signs, they’ll think twice about it.”

In the last year there has been a succession of local authorities arresting and criminalising buskers, not least in London, prompting Lord Clement Jones to bring it up in the House of Lords. He says:

We need a change of mindset by some local authorities. Busking should be seen as life enhancing and an essential part of our culture in Britain. We must ensure that legislation designed to deter antisocial behaviour is not used to prevent appropriate busking.

In Camden, buskers now need a council-appointed panel to deem them okay to perform, or face a £1,000 fine and having their equipment confiscated. In Bath, they’re looking to use the controversial Antisocial Behaviour Act 2014 to make busking a criminal matter. Canterbury will potentially confiscate and destroy buskers’ instruments. Dublin, York, Liverpool, Chester, Glasgow…all have recently considered changes in policy.

The Busking Project has recently been awarded funding from Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading Tech for Good funder, to develop a mobile app that will further support buskers to become financially empowered. The app will enable buskers to accept cashless payments on the street, sell their music direct to people via their phones, hire out their services for gigs and build lasting relationships with their audiences.

It will also record data that will help researchers link busking to the social and economic benefits it provides to society, enabling advocates to fight for buskers’ rights when they next get arrested or licensed out of existence.

Dan Sutch, Head of Development Research at Nominet Trust says:
‘As the world moves online, it is vital that our most excluded groups don’t get left behind. We need to find new ways to ensure that people, who are often financially and digitally, as well as socially excluded, are able to benefit from the sorts of frictionless micropayments that larger enterprises now rely on. This is a wonderfully humane project from a team that is clearly so dedicated to its target audience. To have had a hand in the development of ‘the Airbnb for busking’ would be something we’d be enormously proud of!’

Please find attached quotes, contact details for London buskers you can interview and media.




Contact details below


Nick Broad, Founder
+44 7736 925 000
skype: omnigut

Nick is currently in New York City for TBP’s New York launch (another city where buskers are continually being arrested).

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