I started busking (street singing) in 1976 in Jerusalem. I performed together with a fiddle player. We stood in front of HaMashbeer, a department store on Ben Yehuda St. where we played upbeat fiddle tunes. People would gather 'round, smile, hoot and clap as we played. Some people, however, would shout out that we should "get a job"!
GET A JOB???
HEY, THIS IS MY JOB!!!
It's not easy to find work as a musician. "Live" music is no longer sought after like it used to be. Before the Internet musicians were able to earn their keep from gigs in restaurants, at events, festivals, weddings, occasions, on the road and more. People actually went out to listen to "live" music and venues hired musicians because they knew it would draw in customers. That's no longer the case.
These days musicians are expected to "pay-to-play". Music is free on the Internet. A large majority of listeners have no interest in the sound quality. Music has become in many ways just background noise.
As for busking... well, that, too, has changed. Buskers now come fully equipped with portable battery-powered 60-watt amplifiers and fully produced playbacks to sing to so that it's more like an outdoor Karaoke gathering. For the simple acoustic busker, like myself, the competition is truly challenging even though I, too, am amplified - but only with a portable 5-watt amp. Nevertheless, busking IS a job for many musicians.
I absolutely LOVE busking. The street, the beach, a farmer's market and festivals - they're all where I want to be. The music adds so much to the atmosphere provided it's not too loud or too raucous (unless you're at a raucous venue or event!).
Back in the day it was a free-for-all. Not so anymore. Depending on the country, state and city, it is wise to find out about permits, licenses and reservations for busking spots & scheduling. Auditions might even be required! A quick GOOGLE search can fill you in about the busking guidelines all around the world. Here's a good link to try as well. Try this this book/guide: Troubadour Travels.
BUSKING IN SOUTH KOREA
In my short stay here I have learned that busking is a recognized and accepted "profession". In the larger cities there are designated areas where buskers are assigned to perform. For the most part permits and/or reservations and proof of residency may be required. "Foreigners" will just have to take their chances. I've been asked to pack up on a few occasions.
Buskers are abundant in the Hongdae section of Seoul. The designated spots are a bit too close together in my humble opinion. Especially with all that competing amplification! In Busan the best place for busking is at Haeundae Beach. Busker beware! Due to a growing reputation as a desired buskers' haven permits and reservations are now required. .
|Busking Duo "BEW": Be You! Busking Everywhere! Tia Vo & Rahel in Busan, South Korea|
WHY DO I LOVE BUSKING?
There's no pressure to put together an entertaining show. No pressure to remember lyrics or fear of making mistakes. The atmosphere is casual, fun, lively and active. The venue itself is the entertainment! Perhaps I am a unique sight for the people walking by? Perhaps they can enjoy some beautiful music as they approach my immediate radius. However, for me, all those wonderful people are actually my entertainment! At Haeundae Beach the ocean soothes my soul.
I've put together a Photo Gallery where you can see a great collection of buskers as well as my own varied performances. There are buskers of all kinds including musicians, magicians, acrobats and school performances. Just follow this LINK.