Is Busking Now For Pros?

It’s not very often that I get into London. The only capital city I tend to visit on a regular basis is Paris which I’m able to consider my second home (I know, great huh?). 

buskingWhen I do get into London there’s often a lot of things that surprise me that I hadn’t seen there before. It’s the nature of a city that continually seems to be changing as opposed to Paris where new buildings simply don’t happen in the centre. One of the things that got me thinking following my last visit is the buskers.

In the past the buskers (to me) have gone relatively unnoticed. Scruffy guitars and scruffy ‘musicians’ playing murdered versions of Champagne Supernova while failing to hold a single note. Though now there’s been a change. Whether it can be attributed to talentless people like Lilly Allen getting signed through myspace but buskers seem to have evolved into more professional setups! 

The ones I saw had stacks of amplifiers and backing tracks, signs with their myspace pages and cds. Normally the sort of thing associated with bands playing in bars etc. Then, given the mass of commuters that pass through the footways of the underground on their way between trains, they are playing to volumes of people normally associated with arena figures. Albeit on a rotatating basis.

What’s next: promotional material for buskers? T-shirts and flyers sold from a nearby truss-table? Although if you head to Covent Garden you do often find that. My enjoyment of a classical troupe’s performance was ruined by what appeared to be one of their mothers moving through the crowd trying to flog their cds for £15. 

Of course, the main issue here is: just how much money are they making? As a fledgling musician myself I often wince at the price of amps and guitars that I want and I’m in full time employ. So in theory, they’ve got to be making a fair old whack to be able justify that kind of outlay. When you think about the number of people that pass through those tunnels and if, say, one in five throw in a quid or fifty pence… it soon tots up. It must do if they’re able to drop that much on gear and then spend money recording their ‘albums.’

I’m not even aware if they have to pay to play in the tunnels anymore. Anyone know?

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