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Chatterbox41
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So I was asked to perform at a friends church on September 9th for a festival. I chose
to do it as a series of "street performances" instead of a stage show. Had to draw a
crowd, perform small shows, etc., but no collecting of a tip. Went well so while we were
in Nashville for a wedding I decided to make my first trip to the street on September
29th!

It was a crowded street and I was out for about 3 hours, and it was a lot of fun... much
of what I planned went well, a lot of what I planned was wasted energy for this day as it
wasn't used at all out there.

First the good things... went through my 10 minute act about 20 times. People seemed to
enjoy what I did and put money in my tip jar. I made hourly about what I expected for
the first time out and saw several give $5s while the majority gave $1s or multiples
thereof. And it was fun!

The only negative thing... or what I perceived as a negative thing... was I never really
got to do a show! Most people came up, watched one or two tricks, put money in the jar
and went on their way! I know a lot is going on in Nashville so not sure if they were on
their way to somewhere or if they're just used to watching the street musicians perform a
song and moving on. Watched a girl playing the "fiddle" and clogging on her portable
stage for awhile and it seemed it was the same with her. It really did point out the way
sound can draw a crowd though... her portable stage gave her a sound that travelled for
over a block!

Hope to get back out this weekend... not in Nashville, but out on the street!

Gary
cbguy
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First of all, congratulations! You just did what a lot of people talk about and never get up the nerve to do. I respect that! I'm very happy for you.

Next, you can pull off full shows in Nashville. I do a 20 minute show out there, both on Broadway as well as on 2nd.

It takes time. You need to learn how to hold them. It sounds like you've identified what you need to work on. Keep a little notebook with you and after every show, write down everything that worked and more importantly, write down what didn't work so you know what to fix.

Keep in mind, this is going to take time. The move you get out and do it, the faster you'll get good. Also, don't just go out when the streets are busy, go out when it's slow, too. You will learn A LOT from this.

Have fun and keep it up!


Mike
www.VillageIdiotMagic.com
Dick Oslund
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Right! Sophocles, a wise old Greek, said it well, a few millenia ago: "One learns by doing the thing!"

Mike has passed along, what he has learned from "doing the thing", and, he MAKES A LIVING AT IT!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Kyoki_Sanitys_Eclipse
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Congrats. You were talking about going out and performing when I was able to visit your ring while taking time in Atlanta. I'm really glad you were able to make a go of it
Chatterbox41
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Quote:
On Oct 1, 2017, cbguy wrote:
First of all, congratulations! You just did what a lot of people talk about and never get up the nerve to do. I respect that! I'm very happy for you.

Next, you can pull off full shows in Nashville. I do a 20 minute show out there, both on Broadway as well as on 2nd.

It takes time. You need to learn how to hold them. It sounds like you've identified what you need to work on. Keep a little notebook with you and after every show, write down everything that worked and more importantly, write down what didn't work so you know what to fix.

Keep in mind, this is going to take time. The move you get out and do it, the faster you'll get good. Also, don't just go out when the streets are busy, go out when it's slow, too. You will learn A LOT from this.

Have fun and keep it up!


Mike
www.VillageIdiotMagic.com


Thanks Mike! For taking the time to answer and the great advice and encouragement!

Obviously, I need to work on my gathering techniques as well as holding them... If you don't mind answering, do you use amplification? I really hadn't considered using it because in Atlanta it's prohibited, but I found it hard to be heard over the sound of bands, etc. coming from the restaurants. I was down a couple blocks from where you said you set up... and I was near a corner. Not sure if that helped or hurt. I was counting on foot traffic from people crossing Broadway as well as walking down my side of the street. Not sure if that allowed as much room to build when people were waiting for the lights to change. And do you work during the day? I was working about noon to 4:00 in the afternoon (took a lunch at 2:15, but the service kept me inside for almost an hour!).

I used a small table top on a waiters tray stand. Really only used it for one trick, which played well. Other than that, by the end I was using it to hold my tip jar so people could see it better. LOL!

Currently working on the theory that it's not what you do, but how you do it and trying to adjust 3 tricks/routines to the street.

Thank you again!

Gary
Chatterbox41
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Quote:
On Oct 1, 2017, Dick Oslund wrote:
Right! Sophocles, a wise old Greek, said it well, a few millenia ago: "One learns by doing the thing!"

Mike has passed along, what he has learned from "doing the thing", and, he MAKES A LIVING AT IT!


Definitely true Dick! Trying to get out and do something instead of staying home and plan something! Heading out somewhere with my wife this weekend again... hope to perform again!

Gary
Chatterbox41
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On Oct 2, 2017, Kyoki_Sanitys_Eclipse wrote:
Congrats. You were talking about going out and performing when I was able to visit your ring while taking time in Atlanta. I'm really glad you were able to make a go of it


Hey! It was great having you at the ring meeting... where you at now?

Hope you come back to visit again!

Gary
cbguy
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Hi Gary,

I typed my answers to your questions here:

- If you don't mind answering, do you use amplification?

I use amplification whenever I can. Nashville allows you to use it. I use an Amplivox Half-Mile Hailer. I am able to be heard over all the noise that the bars have blasting out on Broadway. When I work in places that do not allow amplification, I just go to a location that's less noisy and project from my diaphragm. That's the best you can do in that situation.

In Nashville, my daughter, who plays violin (no amplification) sets up on the corner of Broadway and 2nd, in front of the Fed Ex store. That's a good location for her because people don't stick around long to hear the music, but for a show, it is not really an ideal location because when people cross the street, they walk away. This causes the rest of the people who were watching to walk off as well. I like locations in the middle of a block, away from cross walks, most of the time. However, there is one location I like to visit, up north (not in Nashville) and at that place I stay pretty close to a cross walk, but it's a unique situation in a place that most people don't know about.


- And do you work during the day? I was working about noon to 4:00 in the afternoon (took a lunch at 2:15, but the service kept me inside for almost an hour!).

I typically get out around 11am and work until about 4:30pm then again from about 6:30 pm - 9pm on the weekdays and until 10 or 11 on the weekends. If I start seeing too many drunks, I call it a night.


- I used a small table top on a waiters tray stand. Really only used it for one trick, which played well. Other than that, by the end I was using it to hold my tip jar so people could see it better. LOL!

The table you have is perfect! There are different feelings on having a tip jar out. Joe Joe, who is usually here on the Café has a tip jar out all the time, and a few other workers do it that way, as well. I do not do that. I build the audience, hold them and hat at the end. I literally have no way available to get tips, until the end of my show and I will probably never change that. Once you know how to hold them, you're set. Now, there are different arguments, like I said and the best reasoning to keep a tip jar out is giving by Joe Joe. Either way, you have to find what works best for you. I work an old school style. It works for me.


- Currently working on the theory that it's not what you do, but how you do it and trying to adjust 3 tricks/routines to the street.

You are dead on with the fact it's not what you do but how you do it! Focus on that and you will be way ahead of the crowd. Keep it up and feel free to ask any questions. I'm always willing to help. If you have a Facebook page, let me know in a PM and we can chat there a lot easier and share stuff more freely than I do here.
Chatterbox41
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Cbguy wrote:

- I use amplification whenever I can. Nashville allows you to use it. I use an Amplivox Half-Mile Hailer. I am able to be heard over all the noise that the bars have blasting out on Broadway. When I work in places that do not allow amplification, I just go to a location that's less noisy and project from my diaphragm. That's the best you can do in that situation...

Great info! I suspected this was part of the problem, but needing to work on so many things it was hard to say for certain. Will consider all of this when I go out again this week!

- I typically get out around 11am and work until about 4:30pm then again from about 6:30 pm - 9pm on the weekdays and until 10 or 11 on the weekends. If I start seeing too many drunks, I call it a night.

Again, thank you! I wasn't planning on making a day of it my first time... just getting my feet wet and forcing myself to do more than sit, think about it, and talk. As I progress this will be used.

- The table you have is perfect! There are different feelings on having a tip jar out...

Have used the table for probably 30 years when I was doing walk around at trade shows and then the occasional festival. May build a slightly larger top at some point or go to the keyboard stand which would allow me to go taller a bit. Need to decide if I'll use the table more though before I go to the trouble.

I'd prefer to pass my hat, if it's up to me. I wear a cap which isn't that deep for people putting the money in. Kozmo doesn't where a hat and then passes a jugglers hat... I've thought about doing something similar. Dube has been out of jugglers hats for awhile now, but I know there are others out there that are made to last. I'll probably look for one shortly. Was glad to have had the tip jar this weekend though... bought an inexpensive plastic, glass looking jar with a lid at Wal-Mart and just taped a "Tips Appreciated!" sign on both sides. Made enough to pay for my wife's and my lunch! LOL!

- You are dead on with the fact it's not what you do but how you do it! Focus on that and you will be way ahead of the crowd.

Two seemed to draw a lot of reaction so I was pretty much pleased. The third plays well in performance inside (has for about 30 years), but seemed to lose interest on the street. Has lots of audience interaction so will wait until I try it in a better hearing street environment before I make any drastic changes. If it doesn't hold their attention this week, I'll rework it. Trying to do things that can have audience involvement, but don't depend on it so I can at least practice while performing if no one stops! LOL!

- Keep it up and feel free to ask any questions. I'm always willing to help. If you have a Facebook page, let me know in a PM and we can chat there a lot easier and share stuff more freely than I do here.

Thanks Mike! PM'd you!
Yellowcustard
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This is great news. I know its been something you have been building up to for a while so great work.

Keep doing what your doing its working.

As for people leaving there could be a few things going on. First up your tip jar is out so people can pay and the just go, so may be just hat at the end. Or it could be a case they don't know how long your act is they might think you just keep going. So may be say ok 2 more ticks before the finale, or have your props laid out. Also your last trick should have a strong promise I use. a animal trap so once its pulled out and with the promise of "the most dangerous thing your going to see today" they are not going anywhere.

But I don't think you need to really worry to much just keep doing what your doing.

Keep us up to date on what your doing and how things go.
Enjoy your magic,

and let others enjoy it as well!
ROBERT BLAKE
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Well done getting out there.

keep in mind there will be going people Always. if you have 10 people and 4 leave you get that. if you have 50 people you don't.

work on your transitions from one trick into the other.
get people involved, clapping shouting answering questions.

i thingk that an amp is not getting you more people. it helps that they understand you. but if you do not know how to get them and
hold them an amp is not getting to help you. first learn how to get an audience that is the hard pard. getting an amp is easy.

have fun and feel free to answer questions
Chatterbox41
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So I went out today... my second time actually busking!

My wife is on fall break (she is a teacher) and we took our usual fall trip so I took my rig with me. I am a lucky guy to have someone so supportive!

First the good things... I actually got to perform the act I have been working so hard on along with my hat pitches and finally got to pass my hat! That was a thrill! At first it seemed that I struggled to build a crowd, but then I just started to do a 4 card repeat with the script... maybe a minute to a minute and a half long... and they were there! And they stayed for the whole show! And they tipped! And when I repeated it, the results repeated! Obviously I am excited, but so much more to learn. A good start.

Now the negative... after about 3 sets, I started to feel bad! I felt I was well hydrated and had water on the pitch with me, but I felt light headed and had problems focusing my eyes and my stomach was cramping. Not sure if it was the heat or from projecting from my diaphragm. I started taking longer breaks in the shade between sets. Also it seemed people did not want to stay as long... not sure if my performance fell off or it was just the heat of the day. Bad news... worked only 2 hours with 5 shows... significantly less than last week. Good news... my hats increased by 33%! I am pleased

Some things I learned: It is easier to draw a crowd when you are not having to compete with bands in the clubs and easier to hold them not being near an intersection (thanks Mike!). The shorter effects are playing well, but one of my tricks that plays well indoors needs to be rescripted for the street... shorter and more direct... to play better and shorten the overall act. Amplification would help... just enough to raise the volume slightly above my projected volume.

Tomorrow will try again with my new incites! Thanks everybody for the suggestions and help!

Gary
gallagher
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You know Chatterbox,
there is an ancient Street Performer's tradition.

"If you make it passed your third day,
you have to buy everyone;
who have complimented you,
and encouraged you,
as you started out,
...a beer."

I believes it's in the bible somewhere.

Did I mention,
"I like your shoes."?

",...less is more."
ahh,...you don't need us(!).
Your eyes, ears, and nose are where they should be.
In your shoes!
,....close to the Streets.

Smooth sailing.
,...enjoy your journey.
The anchor has been lifted.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and observations(!).
I really enjoy it.
gallagher
Chatterbox41
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Thanks Gallagher!

I have been following this forum for a long time and have begged, borrowed, or bought every resource I could find as well as talking to many I could find who have successfully pursued this part of the art. Time to quit studying and start doing!

Love your posts Gallagher!

Gary
Chatterbox41
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So yesterday I made my first day out this year. I went out with "Endless West" and got some good constructive criticism of my act from someone who has been working the streets for a few years. He didn't try to change my act or presentation, but was there to tell me what filler could be trimmed and encourage me to tighten my act. Always wonderful to have someone work with you instead of trying to figure it all out from books and/or DVDs.

The good: The closer I had been working at this winter played well and shortening up my middle effect seemed to make it play significantly better than it did last year. Didn't have a problem stopping people and getting them to watch or put in cash.

The bad: The act is still too long, even with only 3 effects. West pointed out that with the jokes, audience interaction, etc. I was putting in enough time for a half circle show even though I was only doing a sidewalk show. Need to trim more fat!

Anyway, it was great to be back out again and this year it will be for an entire summer and not just a couple weeks at the end! Looking forward to it and hope my age doesn't hold me back!

Gary K.
mart2
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Hi Gary, I have similar experience to you. Spent the last few years dabbling but haven't done a solid summer yet. This year I intend to perform as much as possible.
I live in the Uk and it seems like outside of the main well known tourist traps people don't expect or haven't seen street performance before.
Your comment on the age thing caught my interest, I have been having a few thoughts lately about this ,I'm sixty three but I am determined to make a success of this
regardless. My biggest obstacle is actually getting right through a complete show without loosing the audience, everyone seems to always be in such an hurry here.
Chatterbox41
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Hi Mart2! I've wanted to do this for over 35 years when I first saw live street performers, but already had a wife and kids. I'll be 61 this week so went out for the first time last year. I had been performing magic, ventriloquism, balloons, etc. and did quite well for a part timer doing company picnics, holiday banquets, some table hopping in restaurants, comedy clubs, etc. I'm hoping the entertainment factor with all the previous experience will shorten my learning curve somewhat.

The area of the USA I'm in isn't known for buskers. I've heard a lot about this not being the place to start out, but I'm here and there is some tourist activities. Seems like most of the magicians around here just do the run up to a stranger and do a card trick and ask for $1. Have even heard of some of them going through the crowd when a real busker is doing his show and trying to do their card tricks. But it's a place to start and learn. Getting a good, tight, short show is my current problem and I think I can work on that here as well as anyplace else.

I've heard regularly that busking is a young persons game... people start young when they can work the 10+ hour days, etc. Physically I know I can't do that anymore. I do think I'm at a good point where I can just get out there and do it, as long as I don't get too lazy and just sit home! LOL! I hope to learn all I can in the next couple years so when my wife retires and we can travel I can perform while we're on the road too.

Good to hear from you!

Gary
Yellowcustard
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Chatterbox41 hearing your confidence build in your post is great. You noted your act need to be cut down. Believe me it it easier to take a to much material and trim it down then to find out your short and need 3 min.

Yep as you get older the ability to stand in the cold/heat on cobbles for 10 hours dose become harder. But there are things you can only learn from time on this earth, also as mentioned previous experiences help reduce the learning curve as well. I am now 43 and been a keen part time busker, busking weekends and holidays for 12ish years. Its great fun and came in very useful to help pay the bills and put food on the table as we got our own company of the ground.

Something I put in to place few years back was I would book out days I would go busking in the diary. This would mean I could say I was busy and i,mpotant busking time would not get swallowed up by other stuff. I would alos have a wet weather plan. Like work on new stuff, build table, repair props anything to with my busking routine. This helped me reduce dead time. Sometimes due to weather or no crowds I would just wate the day ending uo more tired and achiving nothing. But the wet weather plan meant I could dump plan A and hit B straigth away.

Hope this helps and busk strong my friends!
Enjoy your magic,

and let others enjoy it as well!
Chatterbox41
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Quote:
On May 7, 2018, Yellowcustard wrote:
...I am now 43 and been a keen part time busker, busking weekends and holidays for 12ish years. Its great fun and came in very useful to help pay the bills and put food on the table as we got our own company of the ground.

Something I put in to place few years back was I would book out days I would go busking in the diary. This would mean I could say I was busy and i,mpotant busking time would not get swallowed up by other stuff. I would alos have a wet weather plan. Like work on new stuff, build table, repair props anything to with my busking routine. This helped me reduce dead time. Sometimes due to weather or no crowds I would just wate the day ending uo more tired and achiving nothing. But the wet weather plan meant I could dump plan A and hit B straigth away.

Hope this helps and busk strong my friends!


Thanks Yellowcustard! Some great advice I will use.

Hope to make it to visit your beautiful country one of these days... I have friends outside of Wellington!

Thank you again!

Gary K.
Nala Nosmoht
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Hello Chatterbox'
Following this topic with interest, and the age thing! The "Magic Bug" bit me late 40 years old,
busking was never a plan at all, but as time, ability, health etc. evolved so did my magic. I started
Busking as a way of keeping "the magic alive" when other opportunities diminished. My constructive
contributions have been limited as I just stumbled along learning as I went, what worked, what
didn't.
I started at "Farmer's Markets" but found I became the drop off caretaker. "Stay here kids, we'll
be back". 45 mins. later back they came dropped $1.00 in my hat gathered the little ones.
I live close to a Beautiful beach area, they advertised for "buskers" so I applied 8 years ago!

I'm trying to squeeze one more year out of this ol' body as I love doing this more than anything!
I'm just taking one day at a time! the recent "Busker Festival" here was fun, but I was bagged by the end
of the day.

My Do's & Don't: (that work for us)
I perform with my daughter, and love it!
1/ I use amplified music with many routines. Unlike many on here I don't have that silver tongue/ gift of gab.
also the beach/ocean area plenty ambient noise.
2/ I never use hat lines, basically the same reason. But also the tradition of busking has been around long
enough that most can figure it out. hmmm.. "a hat" , a performer ... performing ahhhh yes, I get it!
we do well without it! Just my preferred choice.
3/ Keep it visual! not too long! (if they ask you the time, don't build them a watch!)sort of philosophy )
if doing a routine you notice people start dropping off, maybe shorten the effect.
4/We're in a pretty high traffic area, lots to see and do, so our sets run about 15 mins, and we let them know
when we're nearing the, so they'll stay.

we all have our own unique style of dealing on the streets and find what works for us!
Please feel free to p/m me anytime!

Nala
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