A world sized thank you!

  • Top tips
  • Young Buskers
  • Music
  • Self Promotion
  • Etiquette
  • Be safe
  • FAQs

We’d like everyone to enjoy their busk so here’s some information to make it go with a swing. Please read this page, especially the legal section on the right, before you plan your busk. And do read all our tips before you set off busking. Young buskers: please read the separate young buskers' page, too.

Top tips

Busking in CreteChoose a good busking spot

Before the event, take a walk round the area to choose the best spot. How noisy is the area? Is there a good acoustic? Are passers-by walking quickly or are people hanging around? Getting it right makes all the difference! See our good locations list on the FAQs section.

Pick a good time of day

Busking is a little like fishing – picking the right time at the right spot makes all the difference. Generally, early mornings when people are hurrying to work aren’t all that great. On the other hand, if you can give the commuters a tune while they’re waiting for their train you might do very well, particularly if they notice other people giving you money.

Busking in ChiswickFind out if you need permission to play there

Rules about where you can play can differ from one street to the next. Please read our Be legal guidance (on the right hand side of this page) and keep your busk hassle-free.

Start off with a few coins

And put a couple of small notes in your instrument case/hat/box/ bucket to give people the idea of donating.

Don't forget your clothes pegs!

You’ll need them if it’s a windy day! Check the weather forecast and make sure you take suitable clothing. Take a bottle of water, a snack, a pen and paper, sunscreen and a hat - and a camera so that you can send us a pic for our website!

Smile and enjoy yourself!

Young buskers: how to have a safe busk

Hout Bay boyWe’d love as many young buskers as possible to take part – wherever they are – including students in our own music projects. You can join in any time, and as often as you like.

We’d like you to have a safe and enjoyable busk so show this page to your parents, guardians or another adult who will be responsible for you when you busk.

The important stuff

Harriet


Young buskers are likely to need permission to busk. And you should be extra careful about following the rules. Here are some tips for you and for parents/guardians:

Check the rules. The rules and the way they are enforced vary from local authority to local authority, country to country so check them first. In some cities there is an age restriction on who can busk on public land and who can collect money. Even so, some local authorities may still allow young people to busk. It is highly likely that you will need to be accompanied by an adult so you must check this first. Plus in some places only adults can collect money so have one with you to accept donations. It may be all right for an older brother or sister to be with you but check this first. If you are busking in the UK, read our detailed guidance. More

Get permission. You must have permission from a parent, guardian or carer before we can accept your application – and that person must be responsible for you during your busk.

Assess the risks. We take child safety very seriously. You and your parent/guardian/carer need to decide carefully if you can busk for us. Please read the tips and guidance page before you register. Remember that local circumstances and rules vary and it is up to your parent/guardian/carer to assess the local situation, as we aren’t responsible for you while you busk.

So what’s next?


Trumpet playerDecide where (see our list of good locations, on the Tips page), the day and the time you’d like to busk. Contact your local authority to find out if and how you are allowed to busk. It’s always best to try a personal approach so ring first (or ask your parent/guardian/carer to ring) to:

  • explain you are raising money for charity by taking part in the Musequality World Busk;
  • tell them the location, the day and time you’d like to busk;
  • tell them your age and who will be with you at all times;
  • ask them how you can get permission to busk  – if they ask you to write a letter, use the standard letter in our download pack;
  • ask for the name, job title and direct line phone number of the person you’re speaking to (to take with you when you busk, in case you are asked);
  • make a list of all the things you were told to do – and do them, including taking proof of permission with you when you busk. If you are in the UK, read our detailed guidance. More
Check our tips and guidance page to make the most of your busk.

What if they say you can’t busk?


Erika Nauman with pupils from the German SchoolIf you are not allowed to busk, there are loads of other things you could do:
  •   why not hold a sponsored music marathon with friends or at school, taking it in turns to play? If 12 people take part, playing for half an hour each, your marathon will last for a massive six hours!
  • you could give a private concert for your family and friends. Have you been practising really hard? Then show off your skills! You could charge an entrance fee as a donation to Musequality.
  • how about performing in school assembly and holding a collection afterwards? Use our poster to advertise your performance.
  • or organise a busk in your school and invite parents and teachers to watch and listen (and donate!). Put your instrument case in front for collecting money or ask people to sponsor you. Why not involve your friends, too?
  • if you’ve got other ideas, let us know so we can pass them on!
  • Use our poster and sponsorship form so everyone knows you are taking part in the Musequality World Busk.

Afterwards
Tell us how it went, from applying for permission, to picking up the last coin – and whether you’d do it all again. We would love to see your pictures, too. Load them on to our Flickr page or email us

How to get a good response

Capital Chorus

Choose music that people will recognise

Upbeat or well-known music will attract an audience. If you’d like them to sing along, let them know by starting off singing and encouraging them to accompany you.

Practise before your busk

It helps if you know what you are playing and if you can play from memory that would be really impressive but you don’t have to be world class. We’d particularly like children who are learning to play to take part so just make sure you know your piece well enough to have some fun while you’re playing. People who stop and listen, or throw in a coin as they pass by, will appreciate that you’ve made an effort to busk for charity. We certainly appreciate it!

Get your family and friends to support you

Tell everyone you know about your busk and encourage them to come to listen (and donate!). It’s your own personal rent-a-crowd and there is nothing like a crowd to attract a bigger crowd.

Make the most of your appearance

If you stand out from the crowd you will get more attention from passers by.

Make it easy to donate

Keep your collecting case/box near you but without blocking it, bearing in mind that some might be shy about coming forward.

Set up an online donations page

Did you know you can set up your own donations page for your busk at www.justgiving.com/musequality so that people can donate even if they can’t make it to your busking pitch.

Promote yourself

penguin

Before you busk

Adapt our get noticed press release and follow our publicity tips to try to get publicity in your local newspaper or on radio or television before your busk, if you have permission to busk for charity.

On the day

Depending on busking regulations where you are, letting people know you are busking for charity, not simply raising money for yourself, could boost your earnings. If you are allowed to, put one of our posters in your instrument case or hang it on your music stand so people know what you are raising money for.

Afterwards

Adapt our follow up press release to try to get publicity in your local newspaper, or on radio or television after your busk. The posters and standard press releases are in the World Busk download pack to use when you have registered.

Busking etiquette

Simon Green in ChiswickDon't compete with other buskers

If you are in an area where others are busking, set up a reasonable distance away. If you have permission to busk at a certain time and someone else is there, pick a convenient point during their performance to explain your situation. If the other busker won’t move on, resign yourself to finding another pitch.

Don’t be a nuisance

Please have consideration for others at all times. If you are using amplification, keep the volume to a moderate level. In some places amplification is not allowed so it is worth checking this first.

Try to thank every donor

Try to thank people while you are playing. In the middle of a difficult bit, a smile or a nod will do. A thank you will often raise a smile. At the end pick up every coin – as every penny counts!

Be safe

Busking in Cape TownKeep yourself safe

Choose your busking spot wisely (an open, busy, public location during daylight will always be best, for your safety as well as to attract donations).

Keep money safe

If you are given lots of notes, remove most of it putting it somewhere out of sight and hard to reach such as in a concealed money belt. If you make large amounts consider taking it to a bank.

Keep children safe

If you are under age make sure you are accompanied at all times by a responsible adult. Ask the adult to look after the donations you collect. In some countries/towns it is only adults who can collect donations so make sure your collecting box is near the adult. Please also read the separate page for young buskers.

Frequently asked questions

Tokyo

What is a busker?

A busker is a slightly British term for a street performer who plays for donations. It only entered the English language in the mid nineteenth century. The word originates from the Spanish buscar, to seek.

Where can I busk?

Any country, any town, anywhere – provided you check first that is legal for you to busk there and follow any guidance or restrictions that apply in your area. If you have any advice to share with fellow buskers about good pitches in your area, please email us we will put that information up on our website.

When can I busk?

Any day between Monday 11 to Sunday 17 June during social hours and as often as you like throughout that week.

What do I need to play?

Anything you like as long as it is decent and does not break any local by-laws or guidance. Try to choose music people will recognise – to attract attention. You can use music or play from memory, whichever you prefer. Have a repertoire that keeps you entertained – and is long enough to give you and your audience a bit of variety if they stay listening to you for longer than a few minutes.

What laws apply to busking?

See the Be Legal section on the right hand side of thepage. Wherever you are, we recommend that you ask your local authority, or other relevant official, about the regulations that apply where you intend to busk. In the UK busking is subject to local regulations and bye-laws. There is some confusion about whether the Licensing Act 2003 applies to buskers and, despite attempts by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to clarify the law, interpretations of the legislation vary from council to council. For more information see The Live Music Forum.

Can I play covers and other copyright music?

Please check the law for the country you wish to busk in. In the UK, public performances of any music, copyright or public domain, require a license from the Performing Rights Society (PRS). Many councils and venues already have a PRS license and that license should cover your performance. However, some may ask you to apply for a PRS license. If you are asked to in the UK (we've had to, for a busk at a mainline station in London) please email us for guidance before you do so.

Can I upload a video of me busking on YouTube?

You can upload videos to YouTube provided that you own the rights to that video. You may also upload your own cover versions of copyright music to YouTube. YouTube is currently negotiating in the UK with the Performing Rights Society (PRS) over a license for its content and, while these negotiations are continuing, there is no restriction or charge for uploading material to YouTube.

How do I send donations raised by busking to Musequality?

For people in the USA, we have 501(c)(3) status through our membership, as a sponsored project, of Fractured Atlas. This ensures that all donations from US citizens are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. You can donate on line, by check and by credit card. Details are on our donate page. More

For people elsewhere around the world, the easiest way is to pay the money you’ve collected into your bank account, calculate its value in GB pounds, then either make your donation by credit card through www.justgiving.com/musequality or send a cheque to us. Details, including a link to a currency converter, are on our donate page. More

How do I send donations other than busking donations to Musequality?

For people in the USA, we have 501(c)(3) status through our membership, as a sponsored project, of Fractured Atlas. This ensures that all donations from US citizens are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. You can donate on line, by check and by credit card. Details are on the donate page or on the Musequality website. More

For people elsewhere in the world, you can either send a cheque, with a Gift Aid form if you are a UK tax payer, or make your donations by credit card or standing order. Details are on the Musequality website [make the words the link to the Musequality other donate page?].

What is Musequality?

Musequality is a UK-based charity that sets up and supports communal music projects for some of the poorest children in the developing world. Our aim is not to produce professional musicians but to give vulnerable children the chance to learn skills that offer them a route out of poverty, lifting them off the streets and away from the risks of drug culture, violence and crime.

Anyone who has played a musical instrument, or sung in a choir or group, knows that it teaches skills and qualities – such as teamwork, leadership, decision making, problem solving, self-confidence, self-belief, discipline and ambition – that are valuable in other aspects of life.

Musequality is currently supporting five music projects. The world busk will help us continue to support these projects – and set up more. www.musequality.org

If you have any other questions please email us.

 

BE LEGAL

Laws relating to street performers can be confusing but busking is seldom illegal. If you follow these basic guidelines you should be able to busk in your town:

Seek permission

Contact your local authority to find out if you need permission to busk in the location(s) and time(s) of your choice. Please get permission if you need to. In our experience, it is usually granted in a process that is generally easy and relatively informal. We recommend phoning to explain why you are busking. If you do have to write in we’ve produced a downloadable letter for you to adapt, available when you have registered. Either way:

  • try to give as much notice as you can;
  •  
  • find out who is responsible for giving buskers permission to perform on your preferred pitch;
  •  
  • explain what you want to do and how many people will be performing. Stress that you are busking for charity – most authorities will do their best to help charity events;
  • follow their guidance to the letter. 

Street collection permits

 

Many local authorities in the UK, and elsewhere, ask buskers who are collecting for charity (as opposed to busking for themselves) to apply for a street collection permit. An alternative is to busk without displaying posters or leaflets – and then donate your earnings to Musequality. If your council is more relaxed about busking for charity, displaying our posters will show passers by why you are busking and may mean you raise more money.

Performing rights

Please check the law for the country you wish to busk in. In the UK, public performances of any music, copyright or public domain, require a license from the Performing Rights Society (PRS). Many councils already have a PRS license that covers their public spaces and, if this is the case, that license should cover your performance. Some venues may ask you to apply for a PRS license for your busk. If you are asked to obtain a PRS license (we've had to do this at for a busk at a mainline station in London, for instance) please email usbefore you do so.

Carry proof of permission, identity and age

 

If you have had to get permission, take a license, letter, email or whatever proof you have, plus the name, job title and phone number of the official you dealt with. if you are challenged it will help to prove your case. If you are a child accompanied by an older brother or sister, for example, who might not look old enough to accompany you, make sure they take evidence of their age.

 

Be prepared to move on

 

Even if you have been granted permission, you might still be asked to move on. It’s worth explaining your case politely, producing evidence of having permission, preferably with a name and contact number. In most cases this will enable you to keep busking. If the official decides to overrule you, it is not worth causing a public disagreement. Accept their instructions politely and move on.

 

Do not solicit donations 

In many countries, soliciting (asking for donations, shaking a collecting box) is illegal. Leave your music case or a bucket out and let your music speak for itself. Our downloaded posters will help too!

Do not cause a safety or social hazard

 

Do not block pavements or cause an obstruction. If you have a crowd of people watching, make sure they are not blocking the pavement. Don’t block entrances or exits, particularly fire exits, or impede the flow of traffic. Be considerate to local residents and businesses – they might give you some money!

Please note that Musequality will not take responsibility for any World Busk participant who contravenes local laws. It is up to you to check what those local laws are – your local authority is probably the best place to ask first. We ask everyone taking part in the World Busk to behave responsibly, courteously and legally at all times.


Busking in the UK 

Laws about busking in the UK are not clearly defined and their enforcement is variable. Some local authorities do not regulate it so you can busk freely; others ban it though you may still be able to busk on private land if the landowner agrees; many are somewhere in between. Many local authorities require buskers raising money for charity to apply for, and carry with them, a street collection permit. This may cost money and takes time. If your local authority does require this, but allows buskers to busk for themselves, our advice is to busk without displaying our posters or leaflets. That way donors will be donating to you and you will be donating your busking proceeds to us, not raising money for us.

Public performances of any music, copyright or public domain, require a license from the Performing Rights Society (PRS). Many councils and venues already have a PRS license and that license should cover your performance. However, some may ask you to apply for a PRS license. If you are asked to (we've had to, for a busk at a mainline station in London for instance) please email us first.

Please make sure you follow other regulations and by-laws as mentioned above.

Busking in the USA

In the USA, although busking is a right under the First Amendment (which protects individuals’ right to free speech and free expressive conduct), some local authorities, or landowners, may require you to obtain a license. We recommend you ring your local authority to find out who owns the land on which you’d like to busk – and then clear it with them.

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