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How to Start Busking

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Street performer playing guitar

If you’re a performer that loves sharing their talents with others, you may have considered busking before. Busking, also known as street performing, gives musicians, performers, and other entertainers the opportunity to perform in public places for gratuities.

At Insurance Canopy, we provide top-notch insurance for entertainers because we want you to succeed at your career. Today we’ll share with you everything you need to know about how to start busking.

What is Busking?

Busking is not an unfamiliar activity, in fact, busking has been around since the Medieval ages. If you don’t recognize the term busking, that’s probably because it comes from the Spanish word “buscar,” which means “to seek.” Busking simply means performing in public places, commonly the street, to receive money in return for sharing talents.

The most common busking performers are jugglers, magicians, acrobats, musicians, and dancers. Many performers enjoy busking to fill their performance schedule when they have free time, and to earn good tips on the side to supplement their income.

Busking is fairly easy to start, but we’ll walk you through the necessary steps.

Get a Busking License

A common misconception is that busking is illegal. Performing in the street is fine, as long as you have local permission via permits. You will need to check with your local state or even city to learn what the busking regulations are—some areas may not even have any regulations, but it’s better to lean on the safe side and make sure you check. Most cities and towns will have this information on their local website or at their office. Make sure you do your research so that when you are performing, you don’t have to worry about if it’s an OK location or not.

More often than not, you will need to get a busking ID. Where you can find this ID depends on your location as well. It could be at the city office, a recreation center, online, etc. Most times, it will be free or low-cost. Some areas allow you to use a small amp, and others do not. Some areas will even regulate the time you can stay in the same place. These are just a couple things to consider when you are starting to busk in a new area, so make sure you get all your questions answered by the city.

Purchase Insurance

A key component of becoming a busker is making sure you have a liability insurance policy. You may be thinking, “Busking is harmless. What could possibly go wrong?” Like any other performer or entertainer, there are always risks you face. Some common risks buskers face may include an audience member getting injured from your performance, you being involved in an accident where there is high traffic, or equipment theft. In order to not have to end up paying thousands of dollars out of your own pocket, you’ll want to make sure you have purchased insurance before you start busking.

You can purchase a policy from Insurance Canopy at the affordable cost of $59 for a show policy or $199 for an annual policy. These policies included general and liability insurance and can protect you and your business should you face a lawsuit or other legal problem. With the annual policy, you can also purchase Tools & Equipment Coverage, so you can have coverage for your equipment. If you have any questions about our policies, don’t hesitate to reach out to our licensed insurance agents.

Plan Out Your Act

Once you have figured out some of the logistics of busking, you’re ready to have some fun and plan out your act! Whether you’re a musician playing a setlist, a dancer performing your own choreography, or a juggler wowing people, you will want to have a plan of what you’ll be performing when you’re out on the streets.

When you’re putting together your act, you’ll want to think about your audience. If you’re a musician, think about what the majority of people in the area listen to. For example, if you’re downtown around several business buildings, you could play classic 90s music. However, if you’re in a city close to a school or a recreation center, consider playing a mix of genres that are kid-friendly.

Practice Your Craft

After you have put together your act, there’s not much else left to do but practice. The more you practice, the better you can become at your craft, which will likely lead to more money while you’re busking. Some say the best kind of practice is live performance, so dive in and go full force! Experience is the best teacher, so although it may not be your favorite thing to practice in public, you will get better faster. Keep an eye out for how your audience is responding and take that into account for the next act you plan.

Get to Work

You can become a successful busker as you follow the above steps—get a busking license and understand local regulations, purchase liability insurance, plan your act, and practice. As you pursue a career or hobby in busking, we wish you the best of luck!

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