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Zissou's avatar

What's your opinion of buskers?

Asked by Zissou (3089points) November 27th, 2016

How do you respond to buskers (street performers) when you come across them? Do you ever stop and listen or watch? Do you tip them?

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24 Answers

janbb's avatar

I’ve seen some amazing buskers and had some friends who have been buskers. I’ll often nod or acknowledge them in passing and sometimes give a tip.

Seek's avatar

Love them. We often buy their albums.

Rodrigo y Gabriela started as buskers. They’re fantastic. There’s one dude in St. Pete who is putting himself through college by drumming on buckets in front of the baseball stadium before and after games. I have his CD.

BellaB's avatar

Some amazing entertainers. I really dig people who are willing to put themselves out that way. It’s not easy.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, to parrot @BellaB totally dig ‘em.
I have always had a desire to try my hand at some stand up comedy and I love to see people putting themselves out there too. To come across a street performer or musician is always a delightful encounter.

Now the young vagabond dude sitting on his ass outside a restaurant I was at recently with a german Shepherd puppy and a big sign saying ” Need Weed And Feed,” annoyed the fuck out of me. That takes more balls than busking. haha

SavoirFaire's avatar

The buskers around here are pretty good, though the best I’ve ever seen were in Quebec City. I tip them whenever I can.

Sneki95's avatar

I tip when I have money and if they are good. So far, only once did I have the money and hear a good musician. Usually, I either don’t have the money, the musician is bad, or most often, it’s both.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

The ones I have seen were pretty good and I tipped them what I could.

zenvelo's avatar

Some are great, some are cons.

I was walking up a street in Mendocino CA one day, and heard this guy singing while strumming three chords on his guitar. We put a couple bucks in hid guitar case, and listened for a bit. He finished the song, then he started up again with the same song. Turns out he only knew one song, so he picked a place where people wouldn’t gather but would walk by and not wait.

Walking through the Tube in London once 40 years ago, a young man was singing an incredible cover of “All Along the Watchtower” . We each gave him a few pence, it was all we could afford, but we thanked him for the song.

Rarebear's avatar

I’ve been a busker so I always give them a little money.

But there is a time and a place. In the past we have played at street festivals, farmers markets and the like. That’s fine. But when I am on the subway I get annoyed.

YARNLADY's avatar

I give them money. I have a problem now, my youngest grandson wants to be one. I had to explain to him that he has to be over 18.

Mariah's avatar

Agh…so I don’t carry cash much, and when I do it’s $20s because that’s the smallest denomination my ATM will give me. There are so many homeless here that I can’t afford to hand out 20’s to all of them…but I also can’t make arbitrary moral decisions about who “deserves” my money more, so then I get paralyzed and I give to nobody, which is not in any way a solution to my moral quandary and makes me hate myself.

So when I don’t have money to give, I feel shame and I try not to make eye contact…which, let’s be real, is probably more offensive than acknowledging them. I just worry I’m gonna “lead them on” if I go talk but don’t give? One of my idols, Amanda Palmer, used to busk, she was one of those living statues, and not that she speaks for all of them but she says half the time she just wanted to feel seen. And I don’t do that, I don’t make them feel seen.

I feel weird too about giving to buskers versus the people who just ask for money because I feel like I’m saying “good, you deserve my money more than that guy who probably needs it just as much, because you did a trick for me.” Which just feels….icky.

If I could just figure out a way to get small bills on a regular basis, I’d be happy to give…brick and mortar locations of my bank are not as accessible to me to get money from a teller.

Rarebear's avatar

Here’s a cute video of Joshua Bell busking in Washington DC. It was a bit of a publicity stunt, but it’s amazing how few people stopped to watch him.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Mariah Grocery stores sometimes have a “cash back” option, especially if they have self-checkout lanes. That’s what I use to make sure I always have a few $1 bills in my wallet.

Zaku's avatar

I have listened, tipped, and bought albums of some whom I like.

I’ve seen some good ones and a few annoying/pushy ones.

flutherother's avatar

I like them and if they are good I leave a tip.

ucme's avatar

They’re mostly shit here, fat, middle aged men with cheap & nasty Elvis sunglasses on, who are otherwise dressed in beige cardigans & jeans which are sliding off their arses.
I mean, fine, you’re obviously singing his songs, but lose the dodgy shades man.

Zissou's avatar

Thanks for your answers. I’ve worked seasonally as a busker myself the past few years. I’m not very good, but the responses I’ve gotten have been mostly positive. I haven’t made a living at it, but I’ve made enough to make it worth my time, and gained some insights along the way.

@Mariah My attitude towards panhandlers has actually hardened since I started busking. If you want to help the homeless, I think it’s generally better to give through (or volunteer for) local charities that work with them.

@YARNLADY Are you sure he has to be 18? I’ve seen buskers under 18. Different areas have different laws & regulations concerning busking.

Incidentally, in the US, busking is covered by the 1st Amendment. This has been litigated. Governments can regulate it, including requiring licenses for it and charging reasonable fees for those licenses, but cannot ban it outright.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Zissou I don’t know if there is an age limit, but many people consider it begging and look down on allowing children to do it. He wants to walk around the mall with music on his Ipad and dance in exchange for money. He is 7 years old.

When he was 2, he started dancing to the music of a busker in San Francisco Pier 49. A whole crowd of people stopped by and gave the musician lots of money.

jca's avatar

In New York city, begging for money with children in tow is now illegal. Women were sitting with their kids all day in all kinds of weather, holding signs that all said the same thing – sad tales how they lost their jobs, have children to feed, etc. Having the kid with them all day is now grounds for Child Protective Services to investigate too.

Seek's avatar

Oh, good. Making panhandling illegal in the city will certainly lead all of those pesky homeless people with kids to fresh, new affordable housing.

JLeslie's avatar

Sometimes I take the time to pause and listen to them or watch. I tip them sometimes. I’m very haphazard about it.

If they are blocking getting by then that’s frustrating, but that is rarely the case in my experience. I usually don’t like when they are underground. The echoes and that it’s already a very busy place bothers me. I also don’t like if they are walking through subway and train cars. Maybe it’s that I just don’t tend to like when they are in very contained spaces I guess.

abcbill's avatar

Living in NYC, buskers are of many genres, mostly musical.

I am a jazz guy, although I will venture into new age and some world music.

If the buskers are in my sweet spot, yeah I will stop, listen and not just tip, I will talk to them. Outside of that, as the Burt Bacharach song intones…I just “walk on by”...especially the blues and country/western—I may even RUN by those folks.

Strauss's avatar

I’ve done my share of busking, mostly in New Orleans and Austin in the early 1980’s. It was extremely seasonal, but it occasionally led to other artistic opportunities, especially in New Orleans.

I’m always supportive of any street art.

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