Busker Central

Passing the hat as a musician.
Page 1 of 1

Author:  ludicrouSpeed [ Jun 24, 2009 ]
Title:  Passing the hat as a musician.

Hey all

first of all, great site. A quick introduction of myself, Im a 25 yr old living in Sydney Australia. I recently lost my job as a mastering engineer due to no business coming through. Having just started busking but playing in bands and such for ~10 yrs now, I had trouble finding even a mundane job to pay my rent. Then, after buying a battery powered amp, I noticed I could make pretty decent money playing a mix of newly learnt covers and originals on the street. So I have been pursuing it :) 

Since then, (a week or so ago) I have been reading whatever pointers I could find online and I am amazed and quite honestly empowered and liberated by the fact that on Saturday night during a six hour busking session in the CBD, I had regular crowds of people cheering and clapping for more. I had some people staying around for 3 hrs +. Including some very cute girls from Michigan in the US :p so my dream to busk my way around Europe (which I had before being fired and which at that point really did seem like just a dream)  actually seems a lot more realistic now.

I could really go on and on about how much I love busking and how I feel like I have found where I belong and what I should be doing but instead I'll try to get to the point, my question is as follows -

so a week before the Saturday I mentioned above ,
on a Sunday night at the exact same pitch, I busker for a few hours and although the crowds I managed to gather were much smaller and less frequent, I actually made more $ on average compared to when I had way more people hanging around. Now I will answer the question yo may be wondering, no I was not "passing the hat" on either occasion. But I believe I should have been when the larger crowds were gathering around but to be honest, I have never seen a musician busker pass a hat around but I was observing and I noticed that some people would stop by (often a group) and watch a few songs, applaud at the end of each one and then simply wander off. I suspect there us several reasons for this -
A) the intimidation factor (people are embarrassed or intimidated to walk up infront of everYone to drop some change)
B) monkey see, monkey do (the people who hang around for hours generally seem to drop some change when they first rock up and so these newer, more short term audience members see them applaud at the end of each song and do nothing and so they are not prompted and therefore do not feel obliged to dig up some shrappas :p

now I will admit straight up that I am very naive at this busking thing, but I want to get as pro as I can, as fast as I can, that's why Im here asking for advice. So tell me, am I right in suspecting that moving along the crowd (as I've read and seen other street performers like jugglers and magicians do) would solve problem (b) and passing a hat would solve problem (a)? Or maybe just one or the other would be best?

Im guessing that passing a hat would be best. No need to move on a crowd, I can just mention that those of u who have been hanging around and/or have already showed ur appreciation are not being asked for anything further?

Now bottom line is that I have no idea how to do the hat thing? Should I tell them Im going to come around after this next song? Should I just spring it on them? What is the best tact to take? I should mention that I have a quite good looking lady friend who is happy to help me by walking a hat around, she doesn't even want to be paid for it, (I would want to pay her something though!) also I was thinking about singing a cover of a well known song but changing the words to some thing humorous that is asking for cash like changing queens flash gordon to "cash"
gordon :p :flasher:

Any helpful advice would be most appreciated

advTHANKSance :guitar:

PS. Sorry if bits of this don't make sense, I got halfway through and then my iPhone ran out of batteries o_O

Author:  guitarman [ Jun 24, 2009 ]
Title:  Re: Passing the hat as a musician.

You're on the right track...
Have said hat always out...so they can contribute anytime.
Every few songs, drop a hat line like "If you liked my show, let my hat know!", etc...
When they've been there for a while, warn them "This is how I make my living folks!" & "I'll be passing the hat after this next great song!"...then do it.
You're doing both...a trickle and a flush (see the glossary here at BC).
It's the only way to make serious money as a muse.
Make sure to sell CD's you've made yourself..."Now this moment can last forever, folks, with your very own CD!"
Also, learn to become an expert bottler. This is very important. :banjo:

Author:  ludicrouSpeed [ Jun 24, 2009 ]
Title:  Re: Passing the hat as a musician.

guitarman wrote:
Also, learn to become an expert bottler. This is very important

thanks so much guitar man, I generally have my guitar case open at all times. I was thinking a seperate hat would be a good idea?

I'll check out the glossary now.

If you will humour me, I have a couple of follow up questions...

What do you mean by bottler? (Im guessing the glossary may answer this for me)

secondly, when "passing" the hat, is it best to literally pass it or to rather put down the guitar and walk around with the hat? I was leaning toward the latter, I am just not 100%

thanks again!

Author:  ludicrouSpeed [ Jun 24, 2009 ]
Title:  Re: Passing the hat as a musician.

Cancel the bottler question :p found in the glossary :)

my question about passing the hat still remains though. Thanks.

Author:  guitarman [ Jun 25, 2009 ]
Title:  Re: Passing the hat as a musician.

when "passing" the hat, is it best to literally pass it or to rather put down the guitar and walk around with the hat? I was leaning toward the latter, I am just not 100%

Personally, I think it's best to go out and actually meet your fans...wallow in them...get into them...experience them...eye to eye...proudly walking thru them with your cool hat...saying your funny hat lines...with a big "thank you!" after every tip.

There are, however, the wimpy and self-proclaimed "Kings of the Street Performers" who are too afraid to do this. They merely throw the hat on the ground in front of the edge and back off. I've seen them do it...but without much success. The crowd doesn't feel that obligated and usually puts a few coins into the hat...if anything.

This is why I teach to proudly walk thru your crowd acting like you deserve five to ten dollars for your show. Why? Because you do!


PS - Make sure to read this and push your CD's when you travel. Both are very important.

Author:  ludicrouSpeed [ Jun 25, 2009 ]
Title:  Re: Passing the hat as a musician.

Thanks man!

Great tips about the hat height! I hadn't thought of that ^_^

yes I need to get my new cd done! I was asked quite a few times each time I busk im asked if I have a cd f0r sale! I just slap my forehead an apologise :p

btw, off topic. I just got back from setting a new pb for highest hourly intake. Stoooooked! :)

Author:  gobiron [ Apr 25, 2011 ]
Title:  Re: Passing the hat as a musician.

When I busked in Europe, and especially in Nashville and Memphis, I would have a friend hanging around, and preferably an attractive woman, clap, holler, and go put money in the hat or bucket. Also, I always started every show with bait, by putting a couple singles in,some change, and taping a dollar bill so it would hang over the edge of the hat or bucket and be visible to anyone.
If I ever did pass a hat, I'd prefer it be done by a woman, and of course the best is always having a cute kid, around 6 to8 years old.
People feel like a real schmuck turning a kid down.

Page 1 of 1 Time is UTC - 5 hours
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group