Friday, August 30, 2013

The Art of Busking


          Busking is my preferred method of fundraising while in a pinch.  Busking is the ancient art of the traveling bard...playing music on the fly for crowds, or individuals for cash.  Bard’s throughout history have been traveling around the world, playing for food, beer, or pussy since the ancient Egyptians.  Busking is essentially one of the only acceptable forms of begging.  So why doesn’t every asshole who thinks they can play an instrument just pick up there recorder or skin flute and just pick a corner to play at (in Nashville they do)?  Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of this art shall we.... 

In today’s world of free information, Google, and $20 data plans for that I-phone you stole while you were drunk at a bar, the value of a live musicianship has greatly diminished.  A busker can sit out all day long in various places, and still only make $15, half a pack of cigarettes, and a free hit of black tar heroin.

Yes, all these rewards will be presented to you, promptly after a 10 hour day of being called a street urchin, being requested to play very obscure songs, entertaining requests for songs you hate to play (like “Stairway to Heaven” or some lame Jimmy Buffet shit), or having the infamous drunk guy approach you with a ten dollar bill.  He then proceeds to tell you “That he can play better then you so say these ten dollars” then he drops your guitar, and walks away with the promised money.  How can someone be successful at this? 

Even in world renown music cities, like Nashville Tennessee, (where you will be lynched for NOT tipping a street performer), or San Francisco (where you be tipped only with drugs and coupons for prostitutes), with little sales experience, one can only pray to make enough to cover your parking pass or your bus fare.

I spent a wonderful three months in the country music capitol of the world, Nashville Tennessee.  I managed to make close to $200 on most the fuck did I do it?  Did I threaten the locals with offensive jazz music, or tell them I would eat there babies for breakfast?  No, I just applied good ole fashion canvassing tricks to street performance; let’s take a look at these shall we….

The Greenpeace model:  Greenpeace teaches there employees how to be professional bums.  It’s fucking awesome!!  There is a method to getting someone’s attention, for no real reason what so ever, keeping their interest, and then pulling bills from there wallet (or even getting them to give you free beer, drugs, phone numbers, or getting them to buy you a hotel room).

The twenty foot rule- This rule states that you need to start getting some one’s attention while they are at least twenty feet away.  This can be done in a myriad of different ways, but basically, putting a smile on there face is the best way to go about it.

Scenario – An older lady is walking with her daughter and her granddaughter.  They are approaching me with my guitar.  None of them are hot, or even mildly interesting…here comes the pitch

Me:  “Ahhhhhh, I love sister’s day out…especially when I get to meet the world’s most beautiful triplets”
Old Hag: “Hahahaha, that’s very nice of you…”

Me: “Nope, I can only speak the truth (***cough***cough***BULLSHIT***couch***couch)…tis an honor me lady, soooooo, what can I play for you lovely sisters today?”

Youngest Hag: “I wanna hear some stupid ass pop song that comes on the radio every 37 seconds”

Now I know I have never heard this song that the little ugly girl has requested before, so my next trick goes like this…

Me: “Oh wow, I just played that for the last group of young lovely sea hags.”

Hags in unison: “What???”

Me: “Lets not lag, so instead I’m gonna play some fresh funkiness for you.  If you smile you owe me a dollar or two.”

I then proceed to play the “Jerry Seinfeld” theme song on my bass, pause for a second then smile and say “All right folks, next show is at 11, God bless your generous donations!!” and promptly extend my hand, and receive a $5 bill.

Wrap up: This means I should get someone’s attention 20 feet before they are actually with in speaking range from me.  Make a quick observation about the person I’m speaking to, ask them a few questions, smile, and act cute.  Getting them to agree with me by using the magic word “Yes”, using there name as often as possible, and laughing as often as possible is important as well.  It’s a subconscious way of priming them to say “Yes I’ll give you what ever shit you need!”

Give em choices.  Some people really don't have cash, yet other options may be available, if the right kinds of questions are asked.  "No cash, no problem!  The liquor store accepts your plastic."

Scenario- a group of guys walks out of a liquor store with a shit load of beer.  “That’s awesome…You guys got me a 12 pack of beer, that’s cool, I just need one!”  After everyone is done laughing, the result is….

Im glad I told em I drink!

Once, I busked my way from Washington D.C., back to San Clemente, California.  Somewhere in Virginia, I lost my amp to my bass.  I still made enough money busking with no amplifier, and an electric bass guitar (you can’t hear the damn thing at all with out an amp).  Since I had no amp to actually play any music, I had to slide into the next sleazy fine art…Hustling