I am a full time busker.
I love what I do and I’ve got some wonderful anecdotes, some totally unique interactions and bizarre stories from my time busking. Connecting and interacting with people is the name of the game and that comes pretty naturally to most buskers. The general public are pretty great 99% of the time, but there are some people who just don’t know when they’ve crossed the line from friendly curiosity to outright rudeness.
NB: I feel the need to point out that this is a bit of light-hearted fun and I would never begrudge someone who’s intentions are good.
That said, here are a few lines that buskers hear over and over again…
1) How much do you make?
I make a living. How much do you make at your job? What’s that? You don’t feel comfortable talking about that with a total stranger? How very interesting.
2) Why don’t you go on X Factor?
Because I already make my living from music. I’m not busking as a cry for help, I actually like doing this. I’ve chosen it as a career path, please accept my choices and stop assuming I’m desperately seeking a record deal.
3) Can you play Wonderwall?
Yep. I can play Wonderwall. Nope. I’m not going to play it.
4) Did you know Ed Sheeran was a busker?
Here’s the thing. I’m not about to say that Ed Sheeran was not a busker at all. But please, can someone show me some footage/photographic evidence of Ed Sheeran busking that is not that one picture that circulates the internet of him as a skinny teen, in a dark green shirt, busking that one time. You know the one.
Was he a busker? Or did he busk once or twice, and now he’s the beacon of hope for every busker ever, that our sad little lives might get better some day. (Sarcasm. I like being a busker.)
(This one is particularly prominent at a party; forced to make small talk with your friend’s new boyfriend, an account manager who’s really into music.)
5) I’m sorry I don’t have any change…
That’s ok. I also accept notes.
6) I’m actually thinking about getting into busking, too.
Oh are you really?! Well, let me know when you do so I can come and interrupt your busking set.
I’m very open to emails about my life as a busker, questions about licensing schemes in London and equipment queries.
But when I’m standing there, attempting to build a crowd and earn my rent for the week, that is not a good time to come up to me and talk about yourself.
7) About other buskers
I have a lot of love for other buskers and will happily celebrate their achievements, but I don’t want to hear that you saw some other busker on this same spot the other day when it was “absolutely packed” and they had a “HUGE crowd”.
That’s a great thing to happen for them, I never doubted their talents. Please stop sharing it with me.
It isn’t helpful, it isn’t positive and it isn’t a competition.
8) It must be great not having to pay tax.
Actually, I do pay tax. Because this is my income and I’m proud of it and that’s the right thing to do and that’s how our society functions.
Yeah I know. Starbucks are the worst!
9) I’m making a documentary about buskers…
What a unique idea. If you want some inspiration I’ve featured in a million documentaries already so you may find those helpful.
I am so very willing to assist you with your project and answer your questions. But please respect my time on pitch and don’t interrupt my set to ask me a favour. Email me. Wait until I’m finished. Whatever you like. But not when I have a crowd.
Please. Never. When. I. Have. A. Crowd.
10) Can you play Wonderwall?
You again? OK look, I’ll play Wonderwall if you’ll go away afterwards. And I’m only doing the first verse and the chorus…
…ok everyone’s getting into it now…may as well do the “backbeat” bit…
…wait, where did all these drunk people come from? How does everyone know this song?!