Busking, or traveling the world as a street performer comes with its many challenges. In this post we will discuss a few: how to make ends meet and how to take care of your instruments. On the basis that things will get back to normal some day and we can all resume our act as travel performers.
# How to Work and Travel as a Street Musician
It may seem like a tough ride traveling just with the help of your music, but put things in perspective: so many of us out there do not have a talent or master a musical instrument. So here are some quick advantages to busking:
Earning money on the go
As a street musician, you do not need a lot of savings to have to courage and travel, you can make money as you go along. Some artists say they can make up to $60 an hour, which is impressive to say the least. Of course, it all depends: on the pitch you choose, the city you go to and so on. But nevertheless, what a great resource!
Trading performances for accommodation
During our travels, we met a lot of musicians who were sleeping in various hostels for free, in exchange for an after-dinner performance within that particular hostel. But you can also ‘trade’ your performance for long-term accommodation (via platforms such as Helpx and Workaway) and sometimes food.
Attending busker festivals
This is a great one: if you are willing to make an effort and become good at what you do – I mean really, become amazing at singing your tunes!- you will be able to apply for some of the world’s best busker festivals, visited by thousands of people. The idea is that you are given a pitch to perform and a large audience that will genuinely have interest in your art. There is no entrance fee for the attendees of the festival, just a wish on their end to see memorable performances. Some of the organizers of these festivals also offer some perks for musicians, such as free plane tickets.
#Taking Good Care of Your Instruments
As a street musician, the probability of you having to travel along with your instruments is very high. Many street musicians choose to use public transport to keep costs low. However, we are often left lugging heavy instruments with us onto the bus or train in the hopes of getting to our next gig on time. Here are some tips on how to travel as a street musician so that you can get around easily.
Plan it Out
Traveling as a street musician takes careful planning. It’s such a vital part of getting around safely and on time. Buses and trains both have steps and gates that make it difficult to carry larger instruments around with you. Make sure you are taking into account what instruments and kit you need for the day and plan your trip accordingly. Regardless of what method of transportation you are using, you should check on baggage policies first. Many forms of transports will have weight and size restrictions, which could impede you from traveling as a musician. Knowing you can take your gear and instrument with you before you set out could save you a lot of time later on. Another thing you may want to look into as a street musician is insuring your instruments. Some instruments are expensive, and unfortunately, damage can happen when we travel with them. If something does happen, having insurance in place means you won’t be left without your most prized possession.
Buy a Hard Case
Instruments that aren’t appropriately protected will get damaged when your travel as a street musician. Soft cases are more comfortable to carry and won’t be as heavy, but sometimes your comfort has to go out the window to save the cargo inside. If you don’t already have a hard case, now is the time to get one. This is especially important if luggage handlers will be involved. Hard cases also protect your instruments from the elements like rain and snow that could otherwise damage it. Buying a hard case is relatively straightforward. Your instrument should fit snugly into it without you having to apply any force. Browse online reviews and find the right case for you.
Add Additional Padding
If you already have a hard case, but it isn’t the perfect fit, you don’t need to go and buy a new one. Instead, use your improvisational skills and add in some extra padding. This could be old clothes, bubble wrap, or even bed covers. Whatever keeps your instruments in the right place and stops them from banging about inside the case does the job nicely.
Plan Your Performance
Some street musicians have to work under time constraints as you can only play in public between certain hours of the day. If this is the case, you need to plan your time strategically. Try to arrive early and add in extra time for traveling with an instrument and gear. Having this spare time will also help you deal with any setbacks you may encounter, like tricky train ticket gates without getting too stressed out.
Pack Some Snacks
Being a street musician is hard work, and you’ll be out there all day, giving your music to the masses. Try and prepare as many snacks as you can. Instrument cases are a wonderful place to secrete your favorite snack items, especially if your journey is a long one.
If you have a heavy instrument as a street musician, you need to have the muscles to carry it. Not only will you need to carry it with you, but you will also need to think about the strength required to store it in luggage racks on trains and buses. The best thing you can do here is preparing for the weight and keep yourself fit. Whatever it takes will help massively.
Use Your Kit As An Advantage
Sometimes we are stuck on train platforms or bus stations because of long delays. Now, this is where your kit can actually come in handy. Use it to perch on and take the weight off your feet while you can. You’ll soon be on your way again, and your body will be thankful for the rest.
As a musician carrying instruments, use your diplomatic skills on non-musicians will tend to react badly if you hit them with a sharp corner of your case. You need to be prepared for the complaints and not take them to heart. Traveling as a street musician is hard work, so don’t let the general public get you down.
Do You Need to Take Your Instruments Along?
Sometimes you may want to play a bit of acapella. Or you may think of borrowing a guitar. So do you always have to carry your instruments along during a trip? The answer will more than likely always be yes, but on those rare occasions, you should think of some good alternatives to make your trip much easier and worry-free.
#Embrace the Experience
It takes someone genuinely passionate about being a street musician to undergo public transport and travel like this. Moreover, ‘surviving off people’s generosity is emotionally draining’, as explained by MC Adventure. However, the satisfaction of traveling and making a living by doing something you love commonly balances the risks and drawbacks that come with being a street musician. So simply enjoy the ride and gather up those amazing travel stories to share later in life.