It's locale specific, there isn't a single regulation nationwide.
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Rules are,

1. Don't play within ear distance of another street performer. Don't want to drown each other out.
2. Be patient. The money adds up.

There are more which I'll think of later.

Myself and a couple of friends used to do it. Kinda depends on where you do it and how but luckily we live in NYC. I even knew a guy that would make $200 in 2 days. Just gotta know the right time and train to go through.
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Some places you need a permit even if you arent earning tips. I saw a guy get arrested because he refused to quit playing, it was such a crock. Make sure you look up your area laws.
Yeah, no nationwide law. If it's illegal where you live, it's not like you're gonna get arrested. They'll just tell you to stop.

It can be lucrative though. A guy I know played saxophone in the street and made £70 in one day, although admittedly that was near Christmas.
I'm not sure what our local laws are, but actually they will arrest you if the cops are in a bad enough mood. Normally its just a fine or something though.
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I don't yet know the laws, but I'm working on it. The rule seems to be: Don't piss off the beggars and other musicians. It may end up clear as mud in which case I'll just give it a try.

I don't play acoustic* so I'll play electric. So far, for power/speakers I'm thinking my Amplug with the speaker connection plugged into speakers powered by my laptop. If I make enough for another battery for the Amplug I figure it's a win because it's good practice to play in front of anyone. (In my opinion.)

With an electric it's obviously good to find an outlet to plug into but hell they don't grow on trees.

Maybe the best policy on the legality: If the cops tell you to stop, stop. It's rarely a good idea to give the local authorities any grief.

*Means - I am sh** with an acoustic.
Smile when you say that.
In Sydney Australia you need a permit, if you are amplified you can only use battery operated amps, you can't have posters/ads larger than an A4 page and you are allowed to sell cds of your originals.
If you want to play in Circular Quay you need $10 000 000 public liability insurance :S :S :S.

I usually play for about 2.5 hours, I get between $120-$160.
My setup is my SG, Roland street amp and my ipod for backing tracks. I do guitar instrumental covers of popular rock songs.

I love busking, I started because I get really nervous when I play live so I figured a good way to get over it is to busk.
I've found it's not really the same though, at the end of the day it still is practice but when you're busking if you screw up it's ok, you get a new audience within two seconds. And you also get a chance to play that song again.

But it is really fun, sometimes people will stop to watch, they'll come up and ask questions, people have thrown in chocolate, roses... even one of those novelty mini vodka bottles one time lol.
Drunk people are really funny too. This one guy literally opened his wallet and shook all the coins in . A few have stood next to me and provided vocals lol. On one occasion, one of them was actually really good.

It's not always fun though, I've been harassed a few times, yelled at by a homeless person, this group of young guys once stopped to watch but they were standing really close, it was intimidating so I started to screw up. And they started yelling at me going, THAT'S NOT HOW IT GOES YOU'RE PLAYING IT WRONG RAH RAH RAH. Arseholes.

So yeah aside from all that, I enjoy busking. I'm not gigging at the moment and I feel like a drug addict who can't get their high. So this is my outlet lol.
I saw a guy get arrested because he refused to quit playing, it was such a crock. Make sure you look up your area laws. (Invalid img)
As stated, local laws vary. Where I live it's $125 for a permit. They will arrest you.

Particularly if it's during a big "touristy" type event (such as St. Patrick's day, where I live).

The reason for this, is they don't have time to go back and check to make sure you left, so they just go ahead and arrest you to get it out of the way and to keep the complaining down from everyone who has a permit.

During slow non-tourist times, they will tell you to leave/warning and if you don't or they find you again, they will arrest you.

And yes, they will arrest foreigners (even more than locals, some things are stereotypes for a reason..)
Last edited by jugglingfreak at Feb 28, 2012,
Not sure of the law here, but I've seen people do it. One of my friends just brought his acoustic to an art festival and started playing and nobody said a word. Made about $150 in a few hours. Sang too, though.

I don't think they'd arrest anyone here, but who knows.