Location: Music and Art >> Busking and Street Performing
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Can you "easily" live off busking while traveling ? What are the best cities ? (Europe)
Posted September 25th, 2012 - 9:11 pm by from Brussels, Belgium (Permalink)
Hey. Sorry, beginner here. I almost busked in Great Britain but I clearly wasn't ready so I eventually didn't do it. However, I think I'd feel ready to do it soon and I'm thinking of maybe hitchhiking around Europe and busk with my ukulele for food and possibly accomodation.
Any advices ? What are the best cities ? What about license regulations ? Do I need to be completely astonishing ? :p

Cheers.

Posted September 26th, 2012 - 2:51 pm by from Bandon, United States (Permalink)
"Do I need to be completely astonishing ? "

No, you just need to do it. Busking is all about experience. Start getting some. You will not be astonishing or even very good at first. Just do it and do it and do it and do it. You will become astonishing faster than you think.

Posted September 27th, 2012 - 9:52 pm by from Pistoia, Italy (Permalink)
Hi!

I've done a lot of busking with ukulele in several European cities, like Paris, Lisbon, Edinburgh, Budapest, Warsaw, Madrid...
The good thing about playing ukulele is that you stand out a bit from other buskers, cause it's a "funny" instrument. Try one with some bright colour for example. People usually notice you and smile, maybe stop, dance a bit, and hopefully give some money, just because the think it's a funny sight. =)

About license... I've never had it. The only thing that had happened is some kinds of guards have turned up and asked us to stop, or to move somewhere else. It probably depends on where you are, but I think it's pretty easy to get away with it if you just apologize and leave if they ask you to.

Good luck!

Posted October 1st, 2012 - 4:37 pm from Gussago, Italy
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Posted October 4th, 2012 - 10:01 pm by from Brussels, Belgium (Permalink)
Haha, keep on busking in the free world, I like it.

I was just thinking about painting my ukulele actually !

Thanks all of you for your answers, and I'll definitely be doing some busking very soon :)

Cheers and see you on the road maybe !

Posted October 10th, 2012 - 9:56 am by from Marseille, France (Permalink)
Gabriele Bianco: Why do you say it would be impossible to busk in barcelona?

Posted October 13th, 2012 - 4:34 am by from Katherine, Australia (Permalink)
The most magical place I've busked is in Nicosia, Cyprus. I'd pull out my guitar and begin tuning, and someone will often have already put a euro in my case... From some Polish guys I met, they had great success in Switzerland. They said that it seemed like if the locals made eye contact with you, they feel compelled to drop some cash... Not sure if this is an exaggeration or not.

Posted October 16th, 2012 - 3:31 am by from Somerville, United States (Permalink)
Perhaps I'm more of a pessimist than the rest here, but "easily"? I really hope you have a safety net. Your take for the day depends on so many variables, I really hesitate to say that it will be "easy". Possible - yes; but please don't do this with the mindset that it will be "easy". No, you don't need to be completely astonishing. My biggest concern is that you've never busked before? That's a pretty big plunge to take. How many hours a day can you play straight though? Many European cities are not friendly to buskers - research local restrictions, even if you choose to abide by them.

My advise: Stick to the tourist areas whenever you wont be harassed. Don't look like a beggar.

Posted October 16th, 2012 - 4:21 pm by from Barcelona, Spain (Permalink)
Hey Mathieu... all the advice on here seems to be great plus in my experience i would recommend Luxembourg.. the people there seemed really appreciative when i busked with my friend. Also I dont think you need to be astonishing, its more important to look like youre enjoying yourself and play recognisable songs that people can enjoy.. good luck my friend!! :)

Posted October 21st, 2012 - 11:05 pm by from Athens, Greece (Permalink)
i've just been in athens the last few years, and while its relatively easy to busk there (ermou street) the crisis has forced me to hit the road and try in italy. the greek islands are good in the summer, but they are also full of buskers.

i think u said u have a ukelele? it's an interesting instrument and you can play many different songs from somewhere over the rainbow, i'm yours to smoke on the water. i believe that a costume/uniform helps out a lot. it's also important you understand a little about music to be able to play with other musicians. i play a 12 string accoustic guitar and have played with a number of ukelele players and i've always had a great time. one guy was about 1.90 metres tall, thin with a tophat, goatee and a big smile and made people smile no matter what he played. the benefit is that you can dance around easily and mix it up into the crowd.

having said that, it's not easy, but it's better than staring at a computer screen for 8 hours a day, or repeating ' would you like fries with that' all day long.

to make it a little easier, we have a website in athens called www.buskinginathens.com which we try to connect the people with the artists, but in case you don't have time, this is what i know about european cities, though things might have changed since

*from 2006
berne, switzerland let you play 1 time per week, 30 minutes per spot, not from 13:00-15:00 and no amplification

thun, switzerland
basically the same as berne, but more lax on time limit, and number of times per week

milan, italy
allowed, no permission needed can be good

verona, italy
allowed, some rules but most police were friendly enough to help point you in the right direction

venice, italy
free permission given, but stiff competition

trieste, italy
no rules, no police, but i could have been very lucky

2007-present
athens, greece
is hit or miss, i still dont understand the rules, but made my living there the past few years. ermou is the main street, but wandering around from kiffisia to pireaus you'll find places to play

thessaloniki
considered the cradle of culture in greece. most of the well known composers, writers and musicians are from here, they say. always good times and usually good money

crete island
chania
can be good, but there is a lot(too much competition) and lately the locals are getting tired of it

irakleon
great city, and an open squat to stay at

santorini island
can be tough, but not worth more than 2-3 days

amorgos island
great, but again, not more than 2-3 days, possibility of playing in bars

naxos island
hit or miss really. i didnt have much luck, but know others that have

bologna, italy
street art is encouraged and decent money. a real pleasure to play here

florence
im here now while writing this post. very regulated, and still haven't figured out the permission (office opens tomorrow) but possible to play without permission

that's about all i know. check out the busking website, my name is detroit jimmy there and you or anyone can get my email for easier contact.

most important thing is do what you love and dont worry about the money. people will read your energy, and if you're worried about the money, it probably won't come.

hope this helps:)

Posted October 22nd, 2012 - 9:15 am by from London, England (Permalink)
This is a great thread- I live in London, so if you come here- would be glad to busk with you. I have never busked before, but am working up to it- I do open mics and small performances playing my own songs, and sometimes a cover or two.

Posted October 23rd, 2012 - 8:04 am by from Saint Asaph, Wales (Permalink)
Great post and thanks loads for the tips.
I'm just starting out with the busking, I busked in Milan last week and Sondrio tomorrow.
Back to Spain for about 3 months in a few weeks and I hope to get some time busking there.
It seems from what I can gather that its a little more difficult in Spain with the rules but hopefully with just an acoustic I hope I'll be ok.
Thanks again :)

Lee

Posted October 23rd, 2012 - 8:36 am by from Morecambe, England (Permalink)
Hey Mathieu,
I wouldn't say it's 'easy' but yes it's completely possible. I'd suggest you get started in some local towns first to get an idea of how much you can make, and to build up a bit of a repertoire.

Realistically you probably need to be able to average playing about 3 hours/day, and if you're repeating material too much obviously the passers-by won't notice but the the local shopkeepers will probably get sick of it pretty quickly..

As for licenses most of Europe is pretty easy-going, and it's highly unlikely you will get in any trouble playing without one. Just stay friendly and apologetic, say you didn't realize you needed one, and ask where/how you can get one.

I tend to steer clear of the larger cities where there is stiffer competition, money is not so good, and the police are often less tolerant.

Are you in Brussels at the moment?

Good luck
Chester