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To be a successful street musician

I've been thinking about just playing out on the street, since there aren't any real places to play anywhere near here and I cant seem to fit in any band, so I'll just play by myself. I know that you need a license to play, but what kind and where can I find information on that sort of thing? any comments and suggestions would be a great help :-)

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Re: To be a successful street musician

10/16/2006 3:34 PM

Alan Roberts (10065) wrote:

You should contact your local city hall for licenses I would think.
Peace,
Alan

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Re: To be a successful street musician

10/16/2006 4:54 PM

Paul Smith (1083) wrote:

My suggestion would be to find a really deserted street. When I was a kid we used to play football on the street, but we had to keep moving every time a car came by.

Otherwise, you might want to play on a sidewalk.

(okay, okay, I'll go stick my nose in a corner)

Paul

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Re: To be a successful street musician

10/16/2006 5:53 PM

Rik Eischen (960) wrote:

Excellent question, Jason. I would think this may vary from place to place. Were you thinking of putting out a guitar case for donations? One possibility would be to find a farmers' market in your area and check with whomever's in charge to see if it would be all right to play there. Depending on the style you play and the musical preferences of the vendors, it might be a go.

There's still the question of legality. I think it's ridiculous one should need to get a permit to play an instrument in public. Whatever happened to free speech? (Well, that's another post for another day). Would you need a license for each time you play? Or one annually? My guess is it used to be that in the cities they knew they could take advantage of citizens by requiring a license. The smaller towns and rural areas probably had no problem with the free tunes so long as your playing was considered an asset to the community and not a nuisance. Of course in these days of urban sprawl, the disappearance of family farms, the urbanization of just about any where, small towns frequently have the attitude that if a big city can use a particular law or ordinance, they must need it too. I would assume this would include fences being too tall or not tall enough around a swimming pool, and other such neighborhood ordinances. I think some of these politicians are just on a power trip trying to see how many ordinances they can impose on people and how much freedom they can get away with taking away. But those are my thoughts.

You want to do it legally, but I assume you don't want to give them they idea to start an ordinance if they don't have one already.

I imagine the time of day you plan on playing would be a factor. Also, do you mean electric or unplugged (acoustic)? Some people know store owners and are able to use an extension cord to play in front. The volume and time of day may be the big issues. Next, if you play a style that many in your community enjoy, that can be a plus for you. Sure you could argue that they discriminate against you because they might not like your style, but if that were the case you might have to fight an uphill battle.

Is your City Hall online? Can you read your town's ordinances online? You may or may not find the info. you are looking for. Does your community have anti-panhandling laws? How are they defined. Hopefully the generosity of one wanting to give a small gift of money to a musician is not seen by your government as "begging for money." Do you, your family, your friends, or your church know of anyone who is a lawyer? If you ask the question simply enough in a social context, maybe you might get your answer. Wish I could help more. I'm sure someone else here can offer you a much better answer.

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Re: To be a successful street musician

10/16/2006 7:34 PM

Bill North (12505) wrote:

In Chicago, street musicians play in two subway tuunnels that run the length of a mile in the heart of downtown. Some folks bring battery powered amps, others go acoustic, some bring boomboxes with backing tracks to play along with. It's always warm or cool enough to be comfortable, but you have to play your material between train movement.

I used to commute quite a bit through there and it was always amazing tpp hear the diversity of material and genres. It was truly an "underground scene" were one can measure crowd apeal to any act you were working up. I'm sure it is still happening.

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Re: To be a successful street musician

10/18/2006 1:21 PM

Rik Eischen (960) wrote:

Regarding a license to play in public, would it make a difference whether you were "performing" or practicing, say, in a park? If the music were soft I wouldn't think it would be a problem. Would the determining factor be if there was or was not a receptical for money present? I wonder if anyone at WN is a lawyer (and would admit it) : )

-Rik.