#1
Okay, here's the deal. I am a professional guitarist with 21 years of experience. Although I have achieved most of what people dream about when they start to play the guitar, I cannot seem to get a job playing regularly. A few times a year, I get flown to a bunch of places to play concerts, but that doesn't happen often enough for me to be able to live off of it yet. I hate my job in a music school and although I generally like my life in Germany, I hate the weather and feel like I need to move on.

I want to leave everything behind and move to a place where I can live off of busking. I do not doubt for a second that I have the skills necessary to make that work. I just need to settle on a place and do it. And it needs to be sunny.

What do you think is the best place in the world for busking for me?

- it has to be sunny, preferably all year round
- I'm thinking Mediterranean, though I can also imagine going to the Americas (harder because of visa stuff, but not impossible)
- it needs to have enough tourists for busking to be worth it
- the laws about busking have to be lax enough for me to be able to do it without getting arrested
- I'd generally prefer it if there was a big city around, though that's not a must.

Can anyone suggest a place? City / country, and most importantly, knowledge about the busking situation! What are the laws? If you are a busker yourself, how much money do you make on a normal day?
#2
So if I understand this correctly, you have a sustainable job at a music school and are good enough to sometimes have people fly you over to play at concerts, and you're giving that up because you don't like the weather and want to play on the streets?

Pretty sure you're doing it backwards. Busking seems like a major step down from that to me and, from what I understand, is not enough to make a living. It's literal chump change.

Just look into promoting yourself as a freelancer more, would be my suggestion. Maybe after you've built up enough reputation doing that can you move and find a sustainable earning.
Quote by SGstriker
If KFC is finger-licking good, then people would probably suck dicks for Popeyes. That's how good it is.


There's nothing left here to be saved
Just barreling dogs and barking trains
Another year lost to the blue line
Last edited by Joshua Garcia at Apr 6, 2017,
#3
Joshua Garcia Not giving anything up other than my job in the music school. I will still play concerts when I get invited to. Whether I get flown from Germany or somewhere else makes no difference. So! Any ideas about the best places to busk according to the criteria above?  
#5
Quote by mircmirc
I do not doubt for a second that I have the skills necessary to make that work.


So you can play guitar on a unicycle?
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#6
Quote by M00NAGEDAYDREAM
University bathrooms.

Quote by theogonia777
So you can play guitar on a unicycle?

Inside a university bathroom, yes. 

(no seriously, suggestions welcome)
#7
Perhaps just travel down the Spanish coast for a while to see if it's any good? You have some bigger cities (Barcelona, Valencia, Málaga), but I've always come across plenty of buskers in the smaller coastal towns as well. Just look for where the popular beaches are.
#8
ultimate-slash All of these places sound great! In fact, I already had them on my list The fact that I speak native-level Spanish doesn't hurt Any idea about what the busking situation is like over there? Laws / earnings / etc?
#9
I would suggest Cannes in France.

On the Med, quiet enough but near to Nice and every year it holds the Midem which is basically the best music networking convention in Europe.

http://www.midem.com/
o()o

Quote by JamSessionFreak
yes every night of my entire life i go to bed crying because i wasnt born american
#10
Can I just say that this is an awful idea? You have a job that seems to pay you enough to get by, and you want to leave that so you can do basically what is glorified begging for money.
Free Ali
Free Lard
#11
Quote by chrismendiola
Can I just say that this is an awful idea? You have a job that seems to pay you enough to get by, and you want to leave that so you can do basically what is glorified begging for money.
Basically what I was saying but I put it nicer.
Quote by SGstriker
If KFC is finger-licking good, then people would probably suck dicks for Popeyes. That's how good it is.


There's nothing left here to be saved
Just barreling dogs and barking trains
Another year lost to the blue line
#12
Quote by chrismendiola
Can I just say that this is an awful idea? You have a job that seems to pay you enough to get by, and you want to leave that so you can do basically what is glorified begging for money.


Hey, if you ever work in music, this is mostly the norm. Yeah, it's not stable but there's fewer strings attached. A skilled musician can make money just by being a musician, I think OP is more than smart enough to have a contingency plan anyway.
o()o

Quote by JamSessionFreak
yes every night of my entire life i go to bed crying because i wasnt born american
#13
EpiExplorer Now that is an awesome idea!! Do you have any info at all about busking practices in Cannes (legality, etc)? Thanks a lot!

chrismendiola Joshua Garcia My job doesn't pay me enough to get by. I get by because I am still a student and I have my concerts.

Once I will no longer be a student (September), I won't have enough money to get by. At that point, I will have to take up more teaching days in my music school in order to survive. Since I hate the 1.5 days I already have, I do not plan to let that happen.

I will need to find more work, and I'll be damned if after all of what I've done, I will settle for anything less than doing what I love, and what I've been given so much praise for - playing.

If I had followed the "rules", I would not be anywhere I am. I wasn't born in Germany, either. I've come here by abandoning everything and going for it. I've also done it in the UK, but I didn't like it, so I went back. There is absolutely nothing to stop me from doing it again.
#14
I read the thread title in Jeremy Clarkson's voice.

And I have nothing further to add.
Quote by Diemon Dave
Don't go ninjerin nobody don't need ninjerin'
#15
Quote by EpiExplorer
Hey, if you ever work in music, this is mostly the norm. Yeah, it's not stable but there's fewer strings attached. A skilled musician can make money just by being a musician, I think OP is more than smart enough to have a contingency plan anyway.

Exactly! I also have 2 other big projects running at the same time, which will work from wherever I happen to live. Until they start making money though, which will take a few years, I need to get by!

So it's either more days in my music school (no thanks), a job as a university professor (extremely unlikely to get at the age of 25, though I do have the necessary degrees), orrrr doing something completely different: like moving to southern France and busking for a few months! Hence my question.

So, do you happen to have any insight about the legality of busking in Cannes? (which is, by the way, almost the only solid suggestion so far thanks a lot for that!)
Last edited by mircmirc at Apr 6, 2017,
#16
My only point is busking is not stable, much less for a living, and that as a skilled musician, you could plan this out a lot better.

Quote by mircmirc
So! Any ideas about the best places to busk according to the criteria above?  
Quote by mircmirc
(no seriously, suggestions welcome)
Quote by mircmirc
So, do you happen to have any insight about the legality of busking in Cannes? (which is, by the way, almost the only solid suggestion so far thanks a lot for that!)
Don't make me WikiHow Image Macro your thread.
Quote by SGstriker
If KFC is finger-licking good, then people would probably suck dicks for Popeyes. That's how good it is.


There's nothing left here to be saved
Just barreling dogs and barking trains
Another year lost to the blue line
#17
Quote by mircmirc
Exactly! I also have 2 other big projects running at the same time, which will work from wherever I happen to live. Until they start making money though, which will take a few years, I need to get by!

So it's either more days in my music school (no thanks), a job as a university professor (extremely unlikely to get at the age of 25, though I do have the necessary degrees), orrrr doing something completely different: like moving to southern France and busking for a few months! Hence my question.

So, do you happen to have any insight about the legality of busking in Cannes? (which is, by the way, almost the only solid suggestion so far thanks a lot for that!)

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=do+i+need+a+permit+to+busk+in+cannes
Quote by Diemon Dave
Don't go ninjerin nobody don't need ninjerin'
#18
Joshua Garcia Of course it's not stable! But neither is almost anything you do as a musician. It's the nature of the business. I want to make some money doing something where I can leave as I please, being my own boss, while still having time to practice for my stuff while doing it. I know why I want this, don't worry about me.

slapsymcdougal If you had actually googled that, you'd know there is absolutely no useful info to be found there at all. Kinda hypocritical to tell someone to google something without bothering to do so yourself beforehand.
#19
Quote by mircmirc


So, do you happen to have any insight about the legality of busking in Cannes? (which is, by the way, almost the only solid suggestion so far thanks a lot for that!)


From what I remember from friends, you need an annoyingly hard to get permit in certain parts of major French cities (metro line, tourist spots etc) but aside that, it's pretty hands off for the most part. On a town-by-town basis, I don't quite know and if I were you, I'd certainly do research on this bit.

I must reaaaaally stress checking this as much as possible however.
o()o

Quote by JamSessionFreak
yes every night of my entire life i go to bed crying because i wasnt born american
#20
Quote by mircmirc
Joshua Garcia Of course it's not stable! But neither is almost anything you do as a musician. It's the nature of the business. I want to make some money doing something where I can leave as I please, being my own boss, while still having time to practice for my stuff while doing it. I know why I want this, don't worry about me.

slapsymcdougal If you had actually googled that, you'd know there is absolutely no useful info to be found there at all. Kinda hypocritical to tell someone to google something without bothering to do so yourself beforehand.

Says the guy who hasn't thought to look up the Cannes tourist office and send them an email.
Quote by Diemon Dave
Don't go ninjerin nobody don't need ninjerin'
#21
I'm not worried about you, I was letting you know why I think it's a bad idea. But at this point, I don't care anymore. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Quote by SGstriker
If KFC is finger-licking good, then people would probably suck dicks for Popeyes. That's how good it is.


There's nothing left here to be saved
Just barreling dogs and barking trains
Another year lost to the blue line
#22
Quote by mircmirc
Inside a university bathroom, yes. 

(no seriously, suggestions welcome)


No seriously, for you ride a unicycle? I'm guessing that you play classical guitar or something boring like that. If I see two guys on the street corner begging for money, one playing and singing Good Riddance on a unicycle and one playing some Bach fugue (or whatever it is you do) while sitting on a chair, guess which one is getting a couple of bucks every time?

You see, you're one of a mile long line of nerds that think that because you're "good" at guitar people on the street would just love to throw you their money. Well, I tell you what. They don't. Maybe if you played music people wanted to hear (ie not the stuff you teach at school), then you would be set. But wait... the guy on the other corner sings, too. Well, guess who's getting the money? So you learn to sing. But guess what? There's a guy on the other corner singing and playing the song on an accordion while his buddy plays along on a steel pan and throat sings. And they have a dog that dances along and juggles. Again, you've been out-busked.

See what I mean? You might think that you no doubt have the skills to make a living busking, but you don't have the common sense to make it work most likely. Just the very fact that you think it's a good idea to busk for a living playing guitar shows just how in you are over your head.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#23
WHAT A
HORRIBLE
NIGHT TO
HAVE A
CURSE.
#24
This is a terrible idea. You're probably in your twenties and the only reason I see anyone doing this is because you're not happy at all with life, friends, relationships. If sleeping on the streets is your thing then go for it.
#25
Quote by mircmirc
ultimate-slash All of these places sound great! In fact, I already had them on my list The fact that I speak native-level Spanish doesn't hurt Any idea about what the busking situation is like over there? Laws / earnings / etc?

No idea about laws and permits unfortunately. I think it varies per city/town as well.
I don't suppose they are too strict about it, based on the amount of buskers I've seen whenever I visited some of those places, but then I really can't be sure. Best to check up with the local councils I think.

That being said, in the busy areas, most buskers/street performers I've come across seemed to be getting plenty from the people walking by.

I should also note that I'm not from Spain, so this is all based on the things I've seen during vacations/trips, which were always during summer/the busy season.
#26
Go to Barcelona, work in a restaurant by night, busk by day in the popular tourist areas, it'll be fun
#27
To answer the actual question :

1) you need a place that has good weather all year round and where rent is cheap and where the rules on busking are loose. You should research this thoroughly.

2) you may want to consider developing a career by actually moving to a  music center, like Nashville or LA or anywhere else that has a lot going on - then you can get actual gigs in actual bands or do session work .
#28
Quote by mircmirc
chrismendiola Joshua Garcia My job doesn't pay me enough to get by. I get by because I am still a student and I have my concerts.

Once I will no longer be a student (September), I won't have enough money to get by. At that point, I will have to take up more teaching days in my music school in order to survive. Since I hate the 1.5 days I already have, I do not plan to let that happen.

I will need to find more work, and I'll be damned if after all of what I've done, I will settle for anything less than doing what I love, and what I've been given so much praise for - playing.

If I had followed the "rules", I would not be anywhere I am. I wasn't born in Germany, either. I've come here by abandoning everything and going for it. I've also done it in the UK, but I didn't like it, so I went back. There is absolutely nothing to stop me from doing it again.

I don't usually like giving people advice about the directions they take in life, especially not to strangers on the Internet, but you got to where you are by not following the rules, and where it got you is that you have a job that doesn't pay enough to get by, and you're contemplating what's essentially begging on the streets for money.

I have no problem with your desire to do what you love for a living, but I would at least implore you to consider doing something more structured than relying on the generosity of passersby. You could be a session guitarist, a guitar instructor, anything else. And to be honest, I hate to say it, but if you have 21 years playing guitar, then you're actually overqualified for busking, and I don't like to use the word "overqualified." People aren't really interested in guitar virtuosos in performers. They like accessible and catchy arrangements.  

"Living off busking" is a pipe dream. Some days, you might get a paper clip, a rubber band, and some pocket change, and that's if you can regularly find places to busk where the police doesn't kick you out.
Free Ali
Free Lard
#29
Quote by reverb66
2) you may want to consider developing a career by actually moving to a  music center, like Nashville or LA or anywhere else that has a lot going on - then you can get actual gigs in actual bands or do session work .


In all seriousness making a living busking is more realistic than trying to move to Nashville to be a session guitarist, especially if you are a foreigner with zero connections. I don't know the LA scene, but the guitar market in Nashville is definitely cornered and ain't nobody getting in.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#30
Quote by chrismendiola
People aren't really interested in guitar virtuosos in performers. They like accessible and catchy arrangements.


People want to hear songs they know played on an instrument they have never seen in person by a guy riding a unicycle in circles around a burning effigy of a locally unpopular politician. People want to see a spectacle when it comes to street performance. You know, something they don't see everyday like a guitar player.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#31
Wouldn't a mall be a good place for busking? People with expendable income walking around, wanting to spend it. Plus, climate controlled. The only problem would be potential hassles from security, but I'm sure a guy could get a permit. 
#32
Quote by TobusRex
Wouldn't a mall be a good place for busking? People with expendable income walking around, wanting to spend it. Plus, climate controlled. The only problem would be potential hassles from security, but I'm sure a guy could get a permit. 

I imagine permits would be pretty much meaningless, since malls are private institutions.
Free Ali
Free Lard
#33
Besides, people toss loose change into fountains to make wishes at malls, buy raffle tickets to win a car, or donate it to charities like the Red Cross and Salvation Army. Who in their right mind would give change to some bum playing guitar when they have the options of wishes, a new car, or charity instead?
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#35
Quote by reverb66
theogonia777 who the hell carries change anymore lol? 


You buy something for 8.67 after tax. Hand the cashier a 10. He gives you 1.33 in change. Nobody wants that .33 so they chuck it in the fountain to make a wish or give it to the Red Cross.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#36
You want to move out of like the best country in the world after Canada and Australia, to do that.

#37
"I am a professional guitarist"

"but that doesn't happen often enough for me to be able to live off of it yet"
PM me for newts
#38
Like seriously.  Can you outdo this?  No?  Then don't bother.



There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
Last edited by theogonia777 at Apr 7, 2017,
#39
if I were going to do this, the first thing I would google is "most homeless friendly cities in (insert country here)"

make sure the info is up to date cause some cities change their attitudes toward it
#40
Quote by StewieSwan
"I am a professional guitarist"

"but that doesn't happen often enough for me to be able to live off of it yet"


Beat me to it.

Also OP, your American options are probably like Nashville and Austin. I would also say Asheville, Portland, and Seattle, but your weather restrictions. Although Asheville is pretty moderate. Maybe Raleigh too? Key West?

These are absolutely guesses.
My God, it's full of stars!