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Playing Guitar Out Front of Shops?

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19 Mar 2013 04:33 | Quote
Joined: 15 Mar 2012
United States
Licks: 1
Karma: 1
I'll be honest here.

I'm unemployed.

Terminally, it would seem.

Recently I've acquired a beat up acoustic and the thought crossed my mind, of playing outside of local businesses to try and earn some sort of income.

I wanted to know, has anyone ever done this before?

Does anyone have advice on this sort of thing?
22 Mar 2013 23:15 | Quote
Joined: 20 Sep 2009
United States
Karma: 9
where do you live?

i have never done it. here's how i feel about "tramps" (an outdated term for what we'd now refer to as a "begger", but unlike beggers, tramps typically "earned" their handout by performing in some manner) --- i'll gladly fork over some spare change or a dollar for a street performer. but i'll never give money to a begger who just approaches me asking for change.

where you live is important. i don't think there is anywhere you CAN'T be a street performer. but for instance, i live in st louis city and i can tell you that after every home cardinals game there is the guy who plays "when the saints go marching in" on saxophone after the game. he's been there for 20+ years playing the same song. there's also the guy who dresses like superman and poses with people and asks for donations (screw that guy; that's not a talent). in other words, that's a good venue but at the same time you might have to fight for territory? i don't know i've never done anything like this!

maybe start in a public park? if you live in a big city like LA police might make you move along, but then again if you lived in a big enough city like chicago (or a city where police are "cool" like STL) then they might just let you be because they have bigger things to worry about.

good luck with the unemployment. i certainly feel your pain!
28 Mar 2013 16:34 | Quote
Joined: 23 Jun 2008
Lessons: 4
Karma: 35
Couple things, decide your "spot" carefully. Things to consider, do not choose places near any shops or other commercial zones, because people there usually are in busy mood, they want to get their stuff done without interuptions, choose your spot to places where people are in relaxed mood, because when they are relaxed they could flip a coin or two way more easier.

choose carefully what you play and practise that you can do it easily less errors as possible. Why, ever heard a terrible street musician, I have heard many and they always get to my nerves and I dont think Im not only one, so practise before playing public, choose easier well known songs.

28 Mar 2013 22:24 | Quote
Joined: 28 Mar 2013
Don't do it.

I got stuck in that rut for a decade, going out every day hopeing for a good one, which never happened. And my vision of a good day was making enough to eat. I played all four seasons, in Toronto, Canada. I started with a AmpCan, a battery powered amp, and for the last 5 years I was able to use the plug in the store beside where I played. I sounded great with a little Squier 10w amp amd my Ibanez.

Many hours of playing for the cars stuck in traffic. Baking in the sun in summer, and freezing in the wind in winter.

But I did not make any thing that could be considered a source of revenue. Do it for fun, but not for money.

Good Luck.


30 Mar 2013 19:37 | Quote
Joined: 06 Feb 2013
United States
Licks: -2
Karma: 2
The spot in which you perform is definitely key. If you live in San Francisco, or are willing to move there, there probably isn't a happier spot to perform; and people generally appreciate and tip the street performers there.
Since you likely do not live there, and are unable to relocate on a whim:
Play in places that have a lot of tourists. Enjoying, and, usually, tipping a unique street performer happens most often with people who don't spend most or all of their time seeing it. People who are less used to it will most likely enjoy it the most.
Also, like Empirism said, playing simple and popular songs is easier, and you'll cater to a larger audience.
31 Mar 2013 19:32 | Quote
Joined: 10 Jul 2010
United States
Lessons: 4
Licks: 19
Karma: 16
Location is everything. When I lived in New Orleans it was part of the atmosphere to see street performers. It wouldn't be the same without them. Now I live in Mobile, Alabama and it's just not done here.
3 Apr 2013 11:41 | Quote
Joined: 03 Oct 2008
United States
Karma: 21
In the early 80's, my friend and I would play on the Santa Monica pier. We both knew how to play all of the Beatles songs and he would sing the main part and I would sing the harmony. We were pretty successful until they kicked us off for not having a business permit.

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