Dear Sacramento Buskers,
Here are some answers to some questions you may be thinking right about now.

Who the #*&$ are you?

Good point. I’m a British American who’s been working with buskers for many years. I have busked, but I’m not a busker myself. I’ve worked on some of the largest busker festivals in the world, and once filmed 300 street performers in 40 cities in 30 countries around the world.

Here’s an example of our work:

What is “The Busking Project”?

I founded The Busking Project with Liliana Maz. Our team consists of designers, developers, writers, editors and, of course, street performers (see our about page). We also create “resources” to help street performers organise and defend themselves:

Put simply, we are a non-profit organisation with 4,000 street performers signed up, that celebrates and supports buskers. We create tech products (like the website you’re now looking at), and do advocacy work. Also, we’ve worked with buskers in Berlin, London, Barcelona, Rome, Asheville, San Diego, New York, New Orleans…

We believe that anti-busking legislation (and aggressive policing) comes from misunderstandings about busking. One of the reasons why was created was to show that busking is a viable, legitimate and beneficial part of a city’s cultural landscape. In other words, to show governments they should treat buskers better.

Why are you working in Sacramento?

A couple of months ago, someone in Sacramento’s Metropolitan Arts Commission signed up on our website, saying they wanted “a communications tool and an informal directory of artists and people looking to hire artists.” They also said they were exploring things like raising decibel limits above current levels, encouraging buskers, working with you, being more transparent… it all sounded good.

We offered to help them do these things, and we decided that creating a web page might be a good place to start.

What exactly will the web page do?

See the image below. But we’re highlighting the talent on Sacramento’s streets, and inviting people to go find a show and engage with you. We’re trying to increase your audiences, give you recognition…

Is this scheduling, auditioning, licensing, controlling etc?

No. This is informal. And it’s optional; you’re free to join or not. This does not represent a transfer of power, or new rules/regulations, or anything like that. It’s just a promotional web page.

What are the benefits for me?

At the current rate we’re set to get about a thousand “gig” requests this year – we’re getting 3-4 per day, but that number seems to be increasing (we’ve already hired buskers for an event in Sacramento). So, by signing up, you could also get a gig. You can also get cashless payments (card and PayPal) through the site from your audience. And, having a profile on our site is like having a Facebook page, except that we’re not a for-profit company.

Is The Busking Project getting rich off of this?

No. Sacramento is paying us $1,000 for the web page, which sounds like a lot, but we’re paying a designer, two developers and a UX designer (“User eXperience designer”) to create the page. And I’m working for free. We’re not making a profit. We see this as a good opportunity to test out whether a web page like this is successful in helping buskers. If it is, maybe we’ll use this kind of thing to help buskers in other cities too.

If you’re pro-busking, why are you working with a government?

To be completely honest, I’m naturally skeptical of governments. In my experience, they’re almost always worried about control, management, limitations etc, while pretending to be interested in “promotion”. But, not once has anyone I’ve spoken to in Sacramento even mentioned the words “scheduling” or “auditioning” or anything like that. The people I’ve spoken to genuinely seem to be interested in encouraging a vibrant busking ecosystem.

I like what you’re doing, how can I help?

Great. At the moment, I’d like your opinion on everything from issues around busking in Sacramento to feedback on the image below. My contact details are also below.

I don’t like what you’re doing, and I don’t trust you.

Great. I like your honesty. And I’d like to have a call, or at least an email back and forth. Here’s how you can reach me:

Skype: omnigut
Google Hangouts: (send me an email and I’ll log on)
Facebook: (add me as a friend)
Phone: +57 300 884 8805 (I’m currently in Colombia)