Make It Obvious
I'm a singer-songwriter. Whenever I've gone out and busked in my shorts and tee-shirt, there's a strange ambience that seems to blend me in with the trash can and so-called "bums" on the streets everywhere. As a "walk-by" busker, I may have been having fun - but at my own expense.
There I was in front of a pharmacy of all places with long hair, guitar and beard. My case was open with a sign I had made with calligraphy that said "Support Local Artists". Although I made a few bucks, what I should have been doing is making it obvious I was from another group of weirdos just as legitimate as a bum but with the flair of a fool.
By making it obvious, you do away with the common notion that a street performer or busker is "just another bum". Let me say here I don't call anyone "bums", myself. This is slang but they are very real people including the mentally-ill, handicapped, unemployed, and alcoholics common in Western society.
Yet buskers and street performers are often seen in this very dim light. Akin to pan-handlers, buskers must distinguish themselves from the trash can as it were. How often have you found weird stuff in your case? That's because they thought you were a trash can!
I began to notice if I put on a casual sport coat, I seemed more noticeable than before when I was practically in my underwear. Slowly, as these articles of clothing presented themselves to me, I improved. I was aware I was making more money for the same amount of songs.
Next, I decided a hat should be good - but what kind? As I was walking down the rain-soaked street in Europe one evening, I saw a red cap of sorts someone had evidently lost. I bent down to pick it up and tried it on. It was a nice brand new sturdy red felt cap made in England. Problem solved.
I'm making more money now as I've separated myself from the trash can. Walking home one day, I went by a store that had some nice black pants in the window. I went in and bought a new pair.
Then, over the next week, I finished my new outfit with a pair of black running shoes. Still more money poured in and selling $10 cd's of my originals were going through the roof. Then, I noticed most buskers wore vests so I bought a snazzy one. My final solution was quite unbelievably amazing. It's a custom formal dinner jacket...but that's just me.
It's all about image or the perceived image you want to project. Once you've figured out what apparel you'll wear for your show, you'll notice the same things I did. Regardless of the type of busker, you'll receive a lot more respect and appreciation when you fully play the part.
Let this be a lesson to you. Always distinguish yourself from your surroundings. Pick your place well. Only a clean dry pitch will do. Never sit on the street. Use a chair only if necessary. Draw a circle around yourself if you must. But be sure to wear some sort of show costume. This will make you stand out in the crowd so to speak which is exactly what you want.
Remember...it's a performance. Wearing show apparel will also make you feel better about yourself. This comes in handy when you find yourself grinning into the police camera having your stylish mug-shot taken after they drag you off.
Trust me on this one...