Take to the Streets: Turning Closed Venues into Live Opportunities

By Neelesh Vasistha on 15-06-2020

Welcome to the weirdest summer in living memory

The mercury is jumping, the great outdoors beckons, and yet the shadow of COVID looms tall. But right now, we’re in a sweet spot. The long, warm days are drawing people from their homes, but with fewer places open, life often gathers outside - in the parks or on the plazas. Add to this a growing appetite for music, and you have a glowing chance to impress new and hungry audiences with busking.

Stop making that face - street music isn’t just the territory of bucket drummers, loop-happy songwriters or gimmicky instrumentalists. In fact, it’s an easy adjustment.

buskinThe Dutch Duo Buskin' Belters

Armour Up

There was a time when street music was a royal headache. ‘Going busking’ might as well have been a bizarre euphemism for dragging bulky and expensive equipment around town. Thankfully, getting street-ready today requires only a modest investment.

Most big amp brands offer portable mini amps with long battery life. This garden of competition keeps prices low and quality high. Expect to splash 50 - 80 EUR on a small but scrappy amp that offers respectable guitar tones. Spend a little more for a second, vocal channel. Round out your setup with some percussion - a cajon or some shakers - and you’re set for a slapdash busking session.

Luckily, this equipment also serves a list of extra purposes. Small amps or cajons make great practicing tools, for the home, or van, or dressing room. Yay.

Solo-artist Dave Kerr is ready to perform

Shake off the Rust

At the very least, you can view busking as ‘live rehearsals’ for when real gigs are allowed again. The nice thing is that on the street, nobody owes anyone attention. You’re in neutral territory. It’s not a gig where people have paid to be entertained. You’re not obliged to cater to an audience, just as they’re not obliged to listen. This means you can practice songs in a low-pressure but nevertheless live environment. Consider it training.

You’ll earn some pocket money and cram some much-needed live practice together. Hopefully, you’ll also unfurl a new wing to your musicianship - one that might serve you very well. Get tight at street music, and your band will learn a highly effective tool to promote local shows on tour: busking a ‘taster set’ by day, and convincing people to attend your real set at night.

And finally, don’t take it too seriously. Look up. Smile at people - you’ll be surprised how many smile back. You’re providing music at a time when venues aren’t. Enjoy the duty of playing for people again, regardless of who’s listening. But don’t forget to keep that distance!

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Tags: streets, live, busking