Busk in Melbourne

16 Focus Cities

There is a great deal of variation between the amount of regulation different cities impose on busking. There are also differences in how strictly that regulation is enforced.

In many cases there is a conflict of interest between policy makers and street performers when it comes to the policies adopted. As part of this research, we wanted to highlight the perspective of buskers towards these policies and refer to the difficulties that they face in  some cases.

The following sixteen reports on key focus cities illustrate many of the different regulatory approaches to busking. They assess how strictly the regulations are applied and contain feedback on the effects of the regulations from buskers in the featured cities.

The reports are listed alphabetically. First by country and then by city for those countries in which more than one city is featured. Each city is given a grade or score which is the combined value of the factors and regulations governing busking in that city.

In general, busking is considered legal in London but individual boroughs have a large degree of autonomy in their approach to street performers. We have featured the borough of Camden as well as Greater London because Camden’s regulatory system has recently become more restrictive.


Melbourne, Australia

Grade: 9 – Ranking 1st

— Busking is legal.

—  Licence is mandatory, but there are four types of permits according to the performer’s act, which makes the terms for each case more fair and appropriate.

—  There is an auditioning process only for dangerous acts and for safety reasons. This is conducted by a busker’s association (ACAPTA)

— The licensing system is regarded as fair and flexible from the buskers’ perspective.

—  Law enforcement is regarded as relaxed from the buskers’ perspective and is employed only in cases of complaints.

—  Amplification is allowed without any special licence, but sound level is regulated from local police authorities.

— Artists are allowed to present and sell their merchandise with an extra licence fee.

—  There are some regulated pitches, but busking is not limited to those only. The shifts are based on a first in first served system.

— There is a busking coordinator.

—  Melbourne officially recognises busking, presents it as part of the local culture and they incorporate it in the city branding. (Melbourne is considered to be the cultural capital of Australia)

— Buskers are invited to participate in the decision-making process