What is Busking? Why Many Musicians Do It

Hi, this is Anne from EzMusicBox.com again. Here, we are talking about “What is Busking?”

Whether you are a budding musician or an experienced artist thinking about busking, I highly recommend it. Busking is a great promotional tool for your music and a significant confidence booster. Additionally, it is also a way of making some quick money.

In this article, I will cover all there is to know about busking and its benefits.

What is Busking?

First thing first – what is busking?

Busking essentially is performing music in a public place, whether playing an instrument or singing with a backing track. It is also known as street performing.

For musicians looking to share their music with a broader audience and make some extra money, busking can be a rewarding experience.

How to Busk

Some artists do busking just for fun. On the other hand, others do it hoping to make some money. When an artist goes busking, they normally place a box in front of where they’re performing so that if the public enjoys a performance, they can make a donation.

Many musicians use the cases of their instruments as donation collection boxes, such as guitar or violin cases. Some people might not carry cash, so consider adding a QR code for digital payments on your sign.

Besides your instruments and musical equipment, you also need audio gear, including a microphone and a battery-powered amplifier, to start busking.

Having business cards and a sign displaying your name and social media handles is also beneficial so people can easily find you online.

Adjust your playing volume to the environment. If it’s a noisy area, you may need to play more loudly to be heard, but be considerate of nearby businesses and residents.

How to Busk Legally

Each country has its different rules about busking. In the United States, engaging in street performances is legally regarded as an expression of artistic freedom and is safeguarded.

However, some cities and towns may have local ordinances to regulate or ban street performance in certain areas for public safety and noise issues. It is always best to check the local authority in which you’d like to perform and then print out whichever rules and regulations protect you. Additionally, some places require busking permits, and then you’ll need to display the permit while you are performing.

Normally you can accept donation money from the audience. However, if you want to sell CDs of your music, you usually need to have a street trading license. Check your local administration offices.

Busking on New York Subway Stations

One example of local regulations regarding busking is the New York MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority). It publishes Subway Performance Rules on its website.

Moreover, The Music Under New York (MUSIC) coordinates the MTA MUSIC program. It organizes special events throughout the MTA transit system. MUSIC selects performers through an annual audition. You don’t have to be part of the MUSIC program to perform in the subway system, but you must follow the MTA’s rules of conduct.

Benefits of Busking

street performing

Many people may wonder why musicians are busking. People probably do not know how musicians can benefit from playing music on the street.

Here, let’s look at what benefits busking offers musicians beyond just the potential to earn some extra income.

Audience Engagement

Busking allows one to connect directly with a diverse and often spontaneous audience. You can gauge their reactions, interact with them, and receive immediate feedback on your music.

Engaging with a diverse audience fosters communication skills. You learn to communicate effectively through your music and interactions with listeners.

Street performing requires musicians to adapt to changing environments, weather conditions, and audience demographics. This adaptability can be valuable in various aspects of your musical career.

By watching your performance, the audience forgets about their lives and problems for a few minutes and enjoys the moment’s music.

Building Confidence

Regular busking allows musicians to gain valuable performance experience. Performing in public spaces can help you become more comfortable on stage and improve your stage presence.

Facing different audiences and performing in various settings can boost your confidence as a musician. Over time, you’ll likely feel more at ease and confident in your abilities.

Exposure and Promotion

Busking can act as a form of guerrilla marketing, exposing your music to people who may not have heard it otherwise. Passersby might become fans and follow your work online or attend your future performances.

Street performing allows musicians to connect with potential fans on a personal level. People who enjoy your performance might become loyal supporters, spreading the word about your music to others.

Busking offers a sense of freedom and spontaneity in performances. It can be a joyful and fun experience.

YouTube video

Networking Opportunities

Busking in public places attracts passersby and other musicians and industry professionals. You might make connections that lead to collaborations or other musical opportunities.

Additionally, busking performances might inspire others to pursue their musical passions or brighten someone’s day with music.

Tips for Piano Busking

Traditionally, it was hard for pianists to busk because of the instrument’s size and weight. However, digital pianos offer busking opportunities for many pianists, especially since the availability of many lightweight and portable digital pianos.

piano busking

Here are some tips for successful piano busking:

  • Choose the Right Location: Select a busy, pedestrian-friendly location with good foot traffic. Places like parks, public squares, busy streets, and tourist areas tend to attract more passersby.
  • Set Up Attractive Signage: Create eye-catching signs or banners that mention your name, the type of music you play, and any social media handles or websites where people can find more information about you.
  • Create a Varied Repertoire: Play a mix of popular and recognizable tunes along with your original compositions. This will engage a broader audience and keep them interested.
  • Interact with the Audience: Smile, make eye contact, and acknowledge people who stop to listen. Engage with your audience to create a connection and encourage them to stay and listen longer.
  • Be Respectful of Others: Respect other street performers and vendors in the area. Be aware of your surroundings and try not to impede foot traffic.


Financial gains do not solely measure success in busking but also by the connections you make, the joy you bring to people’s lives, and the growth you experience as a musician. Enjoy the journey and the unique opportunities busking can offer your musical career.

Busking can serve as a testing ground for new songs or arrangements. You can observe how people respond to different styles and refine your music based on their reactions.

Regular busking requires commitment and discipline. Planning your performances and consistently showing up to play can help you build discipline in your musical practice.

Street performing is a wonderful opportunity to get your music out there and grow your fan base while enhancing your performing skills and building your confidence.

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