The Daily Mail’s Social Experiment to Demean Female Performers Fails to Find Participants

Street performers across London have rejected the Daily Mail’s latest attempt to create viral content with a ‘social experiment’ designed to humiliate a female busker.

On Wednesday, non-profit organisation The Busking Project received the following email from a Video Researcher at the Daily Mail;

Hello Nick,

For the social experiment we’ll have two buskers perform, one that is really talented and one that is terrible, but pretty. And we’ll see who the public decides to give their money to.

We’re looking for an amazing female performer that is available to attend the shoot in London.

Do you have any female performers who are interested in being seen on a global platform that has thousands of video hits. And who is often the website other outlets look to follow?

The Busking Project is not the only organisation contacted about this, as the Daily Mail reporter reached out to many performers to take part. Buskers around the capital were not impressed. Social experiments in busking have so far been limited to dressing a celebrity up like an unshaven pauper, and counting coins to find out how much ‘real talent’ would make in the street. The Daily Mail’s plan takes this experiment one step further, not just counting the hat, but pitting women against each other in a way that’s guaranteed to humiliate one of them.

“Ever since we started this thing,” says The Busking Project co-founder, Nick Broad, “we’ve been contacted by journalists with stupid ideas. But this idea from the Daily Mail is the worst. We asked the reporter whether she would like us to put a call out for a female street performer who considers herself ‘pretty’ but talentless, or one that considers herself unsightly but talented, and they never responded.”

Street performers across the capital were quick to damn the experiment.

J N-K, Musician: “After saying ‘No, I won’t condone demeaning mental BS and want buskers in the media to be put across in a positive light’, I was told ‘but this is for the Daily Mail’… Apparently my emphatic ‘No’ wasn’t strong enough and was asked if they could call me back tomorrow​…”

Weybourne Chester Bingley, Musician: “I can see the turgid patronising article the Daily Mail would produce already.”

Mat Boden, Contortionist/Comedy show: “Who judges talent and beauty? Certainty not a paper devoid of both.”

Kate Mior, Mime Artist: “I find your request to be disconcerting in this day and age, considering that women are continually assaulted with objectification and our value placed entirely on our level of perceived attractiveness. Your request is especially odd since many ‘social experiments’ centralised around busking clearly ignore the skill that is required in our very special art form. By asking for an attractive and successful female to pit against a ‘lesser’ talented busker is reductive and embarrassing for your publication.”

Alex McGrotty, Bagpiper: “Well I wear a kilt so just tell them I’m a cross-dresser – my bagpipes vs their pretty model. I’m game.”

Dawn Marie, Human Statue: “It is difficult to replicate any two hours or two days at the same place and time, let alone, two different people’s musical repertoires. Talent is a huge factor, but more-so, the ability to stop an average person in their tracks is one of the biggest earning factors in a person’s hat. This was shown to be true through the complete and utter failure of the Joshua Bell experiment. You can take someone from the stage, and put them on the street, but it doesn’t mean they know how to work the street.”

This is just the latest of a series of ‘social experiments’, where major media outlets focus on the financial part of street performance.

“It’s a shame”, says The Busking Project co-founder, Nick Broad, “because there’s so much more to busking than just the money. Being a great draw for tourists, and also being the only form of accessible live art that’s both created and consumed by people from all walks of life, busking has significant social and economic benefits for society. Why focus on such a narrow part of busking – the money aspect – when there is so much more to it?”

— ENDS —

Press contacts: // Nick Broad, +57 300 884 8805, Skype: omnigut

Notes to editors

About The Busking Project –

The Busking Project is a profit business, and the world’s largest community of street performers. We promote, celebrate and defend buskers with advocacy work, a digital toolkit and engaging media. The Busking Project started off as an idea for a documentary back in 2010. We realised that buskers all over the world were being arrested for performing, and were at risk of dying out thanks to cashless payments. Our efforts are directed towards keeping busking alive in the 21st Century.



The Busking Project thought long and hard about publishing this piece. On the one hand, you don’t want to feed the trolls. On the other, you don’t want to stay silent in the face of such unbridled sexism.

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