There’s a lot of information in the post below, so here’s a summary:

Lesson 1: cashless payments can make an impact

Lesson 2: Cashless tips also help you effortlessly build a fan base

Lesson 3: A customised URL might increase tips (maybe by a lot)

Lesson 4: Offering versatility to tippers makes a big difference

Lesson 5: QR codes work (finally!)

Lesson 6: “Default” values matter

The data we’re working with

Online payments have surged since the onset of coronavirus lockdowns. We are now processing 80 times the number of tips per month, compared with our pre-pandemic average. This means we’re getting a lot of data, which we can analyse to see what lessons buskers can learn from it.

Earnings vary wildly from one busker to another. It’s possible there are buskers who display their signs every time they go out, yet receive 0 tips. On the other hand, we can see in the data that our most-tipped busker received 344 tips in July alone. We don’t know who they are, where they busked or why they were successful (the data we have is anonymised and aggregated), but whatever they’re doing it seems to be working.

Note: our system is most commonly used in Canada, USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand, but it works almost everywhere in the world. Still, about 80% of the data below comes from those five countries.



How our system works:

To get tips, buskers display a sign in the street. Audiences scan a QR code or enter a URL, then go to a web page where they can tip the busker with Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal or by entering their card details.

In the gif above, you can see that after scanning the QR code, I click “donate with Google Pay”, then “continue”, and finally I confirm the tip with my fingerprint. It’s tap, tap and confirm.



Lesson 1: our system is working very well…for some

On the graph below, you can see just how much the “average number of tips per month” has changed for our ten most-tipped buskers each month. This is probably a) because they’re busking more often as lockdown restrictions are lifting, and b) because they’re learning more about how our system works. Your mileage may vary!

One street performer has told us they make “about half” their money via Another has estimated 10-40% per show. Other buskers have told us that they just get one or two tips each time they take their sign out. This might be a function of location, show style and hat lines, but here are two main figures from July 2021:

  • Our most-tipped busker received 344 tips
  • Our ten most-tipped buskers received an average of 93 tips each

Caveat: It would be unwise to extrapolate much from those figures. We simply don’t know enough about the buskers who are using our service to say how many tips you could expect in a given month. Some, most likely, aren’t having any success with at all.

For one thing, there are a huge number of users who are using our service for the first time, who will undoubtedly learn, over time, where and how to display signs, and what to say to their audience. They will likely increase the number of tips they get per show as time goes on. And, of course, as lockdowns lessen and tourism increases, the numbers will rise further.



Lesson 2: Around 1/5 of tippers voluntarily share their email addresses

Tippers choose to share their email address about 20% of the time. So, if you’re trying to let people know about future album releases, or tickets to your stage shows, or just to build a fanbase, you can expect to be able to follow up with about 20% of your tippers. This should be a powerful mailing list, because these are people who’ve already shown a willingness to give you money. 💪

Caveat: We are aware that some buskers are specifically requesting that their audience leave an email address after the tip. We assume they’re getting more email addresses than the site average.



Lesson 3: Having your own URL appears to matter

We’re a small nonprofit that is partially-funded by optional “premium” accounts, which cost $5 USD (£3.60) per month. Premium accounts enable street performers to change their URL from the default (e.g. to a more user-friendly name (e.g.

Our data suggests that this might make a significant impact on how much buskers earn. If you look at the graph below, in July 2021 over half of the tips went to buskers with premium accounts, despite only a quarter of the buskers who received a tip had premium accounts.

Another way of looking at it is that if the red line above is higher than the blue line, then premium account holders were getting tipped at a rate that was higher than average. I hope that’s clear!


  • Perhaps those buskers who earn more on are more likely to pay for premium accounts
  • Perhaps buskers on high-earning pitches are more likely to pay for premium accounts
  • Perhaps buskers with premium accounts are busking on more days per month than average

So, take this finding with a healthy pinch of salt.

(We really do appreciate premium account sign ups though!)


Lesson 4: offering multiple choices to receive tips really matters

Buskers on our site can choose to connect their account to PayPal (to get tips via PayPal) or Stripe (to get tips with Apple Pay, Google Pay or by tippers manually typing in their card details).

They can also choose to connect both PayPal and Stripe, and that really seems to be the best option. Looking at the graphs below:

  • The 6% of buskers who only had PayPal connected received just 1% of the tips
  • The 11% of buskers who only had Stripe connected received just 7% of the tips
  • The 82% of buskers who had both connected received 92% of the tips

In other words, buskers who offered only one option to get tipped with received fewer tips than buskers who offered both options.

This makes sense! Not everyone has Apple/Google Pay, not everyone would trust entering their card details into a random website, and not everyone has a PayPal account. So, give people options lets them choose the method they’re most comfortable with!

More proof that offering different options is vital; just look how much variation in how popular different tipping methods are every month:



Lesson 5: QR-codes do work!

Pre-pandemic there was some sentiment that QR codes were a dying technology, that people didn’t know how to use them, and they were ineffectual in the street. That may have been true back then, but it’s certainly not true now!

QR codes now make up a minimum of 20% of all the tips on our website, and they are increasingly popular. [For technical reasons, there may be a significant number of tips on our website that are instigated by a QR code, but which we aren’t able to track due signs being downloaded before recent site upgrades.]

Caveat: Most of those tips were likely as a result of BuskPay, our new range of durable, waterproof and professional-looking signs, which have been more than paying for themselves the first show that buskers take them out with them.



Lesson 6: “Default” values are really important.

When the page loads, tippers are faced with a “default” tip amount. Buskers can change this default in their dashboard, but most buskers leave their default at ‘5’ (i.e. $5 USD, $5 CAD, £5 GBP etc). Some choose higher or lower amounts. Audiences can change that default to whatever value they want to tip.

This won’t come as much of a surprise, but in the vast majority of cases, tippers don’t choose to change the default value they’re faced with when they first load the page, as you can see here:

Put another way, when you set your default tip to “10” (i.e. $10 NZD, $10 AUD etc), you’re most likely going to get tipped 10. The same holds true if you set your default to 3, 5, 15 and 20.

Caveat: Does this mean that everyone should set their default to $100? Probably not. There is obviously a limit to how much someone will tip you, and displaying a really high an amount initially might put people off from tipping you all.

So, if you’re using, we highly recommend you change your default every couple of weeks, and see what works best for you! Your audience, your pitch and your show will likely change what default rate works best for you. Still, looking at the chart above, it’s probably better to aim higher, rather than lower.



That’s it for now! We are currently conducting more research with hand-picked street performers, and will continue to publish the data as we continue. If you have questions, feel free to get in touch.

Heavy hats and good luck out there!