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Questions about busking
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Jaybird
Redwood City, CA - USA
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March 18, 2015 - 4:47 pm
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So my bucket list includes playing music randomly in public (i.e. train station, commercial areas, etc.)  But I'm worried about getting in trouble with the law.  I see articles/blogs about street musicians getting harassed by cops - justified or not.  No clear answers about my area on the net (San Francisco Bay area, but not in the city.)  Any experience/advice... or funny/horror stories?

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing!

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BillyG
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March 19, 2015 - 3:15 am
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Hi @Jaybird - different country here ( UK ) but - here we are "generally" allowed to busk in any "public" area - subject to the usual things - not intrusively loud, not blocking public access etc etc etc.    We do not require a license of any sort.   One thing though in the UK is that certain areas are effectively "private" land -

What are the requirements for busking on private land?

Privately-owned locations include tube, bus and railway stations.

Before attempting to busk on private property, buskers must obtain the express consent of the owner or operator of the land.

....  so I would just check your local regulations - I guess they may even vary from state to state across the pond....

  We live in a tiny village here, on the coast - we get a lot of tourists in spring and summer and I plan to go busking on our local pier.....

  Good luck with your plans thumbs-upthumbs-upthumbs-up

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Jaybird
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March 19, 2015 - 1:09 pm
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Thank you!  Where I am, there seems to be no clear answers.  There are specific rules published for the city, but not nearby areas...

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing!

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fiddlinsteudel
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March 19, 2015 - 4:48 pm
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What you might do is see if you can find any busking organizations in SF area or contact your government. Here in Seattle we have some places where anyone can just setup and other places where you have to have a license and busk in specific places for a specific amount of time.

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coolpinkone
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April 8, 2015 - 2:09 pm
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Good luck with your Busking.... my gut says that the SF Bay Area will need a permit or something.. maybe not so much on the Pennisula.

But hey... if you get caught and stopped... ???  It's just a bit of a rebel edge to add to your violin career.   :)  Be a rebel like David Garrett.  

:)

ha ha.. only kidding.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Sean23
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September 28, 2016 - 12:03 am
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Though I'm way too much of a rookie at the violin to have done any street performing with it, I've done more than my fair share of guerrilla busks with my guitar, and mandolin.  Everywhere I've been has had slightly different bylaws in regards to busking, or street performers.  I never put my case out, or in any other way do it for money.  Always just for the fun of it.  A lot of places here in Canada require a permit.  That being said, my rebellious streak gets the better of me, and I've never had a permit, and still do it.  I've been approached by law enforcement officers, but never to tell me to leave.  They're there to enjoy the music, too.  More often than not, officers driving by will roll down their windows to hear the music, rather than try to stop it.  If you're playing really obscene and profane music, I would imagine they would stop you, permit or no.  But as long as you're not disturbing the peace, and/or doing it for money, I suspect you wouldn't have too many issues.  Just make sure where you're playing is actually considered public property.  Most of all, enjoy yourself.  To me, there is no greater joy than brightening someone's day with music.

 

*EDIT*  Woah...  First post on here, didn't check the date, and went all Necromancer on this thread.  >_<

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BillyG
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September 28, 2016 - 4:47 am
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LOL @Sean23 - not a problem !    

Welcome to the forum and best wishes on your journey with the Devil's Own Instrument !  

Keep us advised of progress !  thumbs-up

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 28, 2016 - 12:08 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Welcome to the forum Sean23,

It's always nice to revive old threads. 🙂
Maybe you can be that guy for us.
Looking forward to many more from you. 😉

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Sean23
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September 28, 2016 - 6:31 pm
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Fiddlerman,

Thanks for the warm welcome.  Challenge accepted.  My necromancy skills are bar none.  🙂

 

https://a2ua.com/necromancer/img-003.php?pic=/necromancer/necromancer-003.jpg

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BillyG
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September 28, 2016 - 7:02 pm
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Ummm.. errr... just where did you get that pic of me ?    

I need a look like that for the current Game of Thrones project ! LOL

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Fiddlerman
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September 29, 2016 - 10:38 am
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You may be on to something Bill. We may want to dress up. 😉

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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bluesviolin
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September 30, 2016 - 12:06 am
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I busk steady, spring, summer and fall inside the light rail transit stations here in Calgary. I need a permit which is 25.00 per year, and need a Police check for the first licence. I'm on disability, and without the additional busking income, it would be very hard to get by. I'm listed as a self employed musician with the Feds, and can claim gas, mileage, car repairs, strings, bow re-hair etc.

I think I've posted a list of my busking tunes here before...somewhere. But I do the old standards...Sunny Side of the Street, When You're Smilin', Summertime, Stardust, stuff like that. I play them pretty close to the vocal melody. about 25 tunes in all.

I've also got a stand up 'bill board' (stiff cardboard) with 14" X 10" color sketches that go along with the tune, the name of the tune, and the year it was composed...Stardust is 1929! I put the 14x10 posters in a plastic sleeve and flip them from one song to the next on rings at the top of the board.

I put in about 5 days out of seven, and usually go for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours at a time. Sometimes longer.

oh yeah, welcome to the forum laugh

"Striving to attain Mediocrity"

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MrYikes
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September 30, 2016 - 9:34 am
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Hi Blues, I'm pretty sure all of us would like to hear  more about your work.  Do you stand, do you sing, do you talk, does your violin go out of tune, do your arms get tired, do you tap your foot, ever get hassled by people, just anything that you would be willing to share.

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bluesviolin
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October 1, 2016 - 12:59 am
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....I've got a good fold up chair with a triangle seat and no arms. I find myself sitting more than standing these days, but when I get tired of sitting I stand for a while.

No singing or talking, However I do say a quick thank you to almost everyone who puts money in. if they put in a 5, 10, or 20, I say Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.... because I do! I don't need to stop playing as I do this. I get $5 bills fairly frequently and 10's and 20's every so often.

I've played my tunes so much I'm rarely looking at the finger board, a glance here and there, most of my tunes I could play blind folded, but some I need to pay more attention too. I look around a lot. If someone is walking by and looking me right in the eye, I'll look right back at them with a polite smile. doing this can motivate them to stop and throw some coins in the case.

I rarely get hassled, some times a young child will walk right up and try to touch my fiddle, but I just back it away and say sorry, can't touch. It seems like a lot of young children have never seen or heard a violin. I've made a lot of coin from parents. a child will usually slow down or stop and point, so I start playing Zip-a-dee-do-dah or You are my Sunshine....the parent gives money to the child to put in.

my best money making tunes are Somewhere over the Rainbow, Once upon a dream (sleeping Beauty) the theme from The Godfather, Yesterday (McCartney) and Lara's theme (Somewhere My Love - Dr. Zhivago)

.... sometimes it can get to be a bit of a grind, but then I hafta remind myself that...I'm playing my violin and making money doing it.

most of us musicians are insecure about our playing, but I get a lot of positive reinforcement, usually every time I go out, I get at least one or two 'That's beautiful' or 'sounds beautiful'. So that's very nice.

Thanks for your interest, MrYikes, and the opportunity to talk about ME! hats_off 

"Striving to attain Mediocrity"

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BillyG
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October 1, 2016 - 1:34 am
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Great stuff @bluesviolin - that's awesome and made a very interesting read - thank you for sharing that with us !   It sounds very much as if  ( in spite of the occasional times  "it can get to be a bit of a grind" - LOL ) you are well-settled into the busking regime, and you clearly enjoy doing it.      Keep up the good work !  thumbs-up

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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MrYikes
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October 1, 2016 - 9:50 am
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You forgot to tell us the MOST IMPORTANT thing!!!  What rosin do you use??? ha.
I practice outside often and have to tune the violin a couple of times.  Is that your experience?  What strings?
How good were you when you first busked?
Tenderly, Scarborough Fair, Let me call you Sweetheart, Take me out to the ballgame, Cry me a river, Everybody loves somebody, I'll be seeing you.  Those are the new songs I'm working on now.
I'm at the point where I can hit the note, but sometimes it just doesn't sound good.  Do you hang around 1st position or do you go on up?  Shoulder rest? chin rest?

It just occurred to me that if you had a cd titled "I busk for a living, here's how", I'd pay $10 for it ($15 if it had good reviews).  That's just my way of saying that what you know is valuable.

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bluesviolin
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October 1, 2016 - 9:06 pm
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...actually, I've recently gone back to a rosin that I used to use....Bernardell, and I'm still experimenting with how much to use.

I won't play outside, and I busk inside the Light Rail Transit stations. When the weather outside is below 10 degrees Celsius, it's too chilly, that's why I busk only spring summer and fall... so I don't have much problem with strings going out of tune. I busk with my China fiddle and it likes ViolinO's, with a prelude E. the violino's are very easy on the fingers for 3 hrs. at a time, and they sound very nice with the China which is a medium warm fiddle. I have a back up set if I want quite a bit more power and projection which is a regular Vision Solo G, Silver Dominant D, Dominant A, Prelude E. on my old German which I use for Jamming with a couple of acoustic guitars (It's quieter, sweeter, & more focused) I use a PI G, Evah Gold D, ViolinO A, Prelude E. it's very even with this combo and will accept no substitutes.

mostly stay in the first position. but some tunes I play once in the first pos, and then another round up an octave which takes me to the 3rd/4th pos. For 3 or 4 of my tunes I make those 'leaps of faith' where you jump from a note in the first position to a note in the 4th position. When I first started trying that I thought 'how do people do this' but I got a couple of tips from people, and now I can land the jumps spot on or very close about 90% of the time. I get a big kick out of doing those jumps.

from your list I only do Scarborough Fair. Everybody loves somebody and I'll be seeing you seems like nice violin tunes I think. Post a full list of your tunes if you like, I'd be interested. and yes, shoulder rest & chin rest.

I hafta to be somewhat better than when I first started learning these tunes, yes? 🙂 but I believe I'm sounding & playing quite a bit better than ever these days, and I attribute a lot of it to my China fiddle. It plays very easy and I don't hafta fight it at all. Intonation is spot on, Strings not too high, good response....

I can't make a living at this. around May 2012 I mysteriously came down with a disease called Polymyalgia Rheumatica..severe joint pain, hands-shoulders-hips. For about 8 months it was too painful even to lift my fiddle to my shoulder let alone play it. It went into remission, but it left me with an anxiety/sleep disorder which I'm on meds for. Because of this I was able to get on disability. The busking income (which I report) makes the difference between going in the hole every month or having a bit extra.

as for what I know being valuable, not sure about that. I know I probably could not compete with the buskers in Montreal or Toronto. You have to go thru serious auditions for places like that. on the other hand, I play fairly simple melodies for recognizable tunes. For busking, I think Less can be More.

Later, Dave.  

"Striving to attain Mediocrity"

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MrYikes
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October 1, 2016 - 10:10 pm
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Less is more:  you mean Count Bassie, Johnnie Cash and Willie Nelson all knew something that others missed? yep.
In two years, some kid is gonna search this forum, see what you just wrote and it will mean the world to him.  That is valuable.
I think if you tried the tune "Tenderly", you would really like it (it has the B to Bb sound you were talking about in another thread).

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Demoiselle
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October 5, 2016 - 3:43 am
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The first measure of every citizen should always be to vote in every election. We hear all the time, that police officers behave like criminals in the U.S. which is the fault of the government. It is the duty of governments to establish functioning police forces and hire officers which are responsible for public order. They have to fire those officers who misbehave.

But as I've seen the shocking turnouts in the last national midterms, most voters aren't doing their job. Democracy can't work that way. If the people is indifferent, instead of closely watching politicians and what they do, government will not work for the people.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
October 10, 2016 - 10:38 am
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Great hearing your stories about busking. I'm proud of all of you who dare to do it. 🙂
Bluesviolin, I think it would be cool to post a video of you busking. If someone with a cell phone is making a video, maybe you can ask them to forward it to you. I think quite a few of us would like to see that.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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