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Old December 22, 2011, 07:38 PM
Dien Rice Dien Rice is offline
Onwards and upwards!
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,675
Default How Much Money Can You Make Busking?

Originally Posted by sandalwood View Post
Loved the video. The bloke in it was in England but you can bet the same sort of scheme happens here. In fact, back in the early '80's when I was a member of the National Speakers Association in San Francisco we almost always had guest speakers at our meetings.

The one I remember the most had the "Butterfly Man" as our speaker. This gentleman performed juggling tricks for the tourists at Fisherman's Wharf and the surrounding toursit traps. He was called the Butterfly Man because he had a tattoo of a butterfly on the front of his head and going slightly down onto his forehead.

He told us he used to be a dentist but got tired of all the guvmint regs, employees, taxes, etc and became a street person. He had been performing for several years before speaking to us. When asked how much he made, all he would say was "six figures" and then added tax free.

He gave us a performance of his juggling. It included bowling balls, eggs, tennis balls and flaming swords. I could see why he made a good goobly load of money. The guy was great.

That story about the "Butterfly Man" / former dentist is pretty interesting!

Some buskers can make good money - if they're good at what they do, and are good "showmen" or "showwomen" (though there seem to be many more men than women when it comes to busking - maybe because of the dangers of working on the street from criminals and others)...

By the way, I read that women musicians/singers can make three times as much as men do, when busking (from here)...

I found a great video about this topic, by an experienced busker named "Skeet"... Called "How Much $ Can You Make Busking." It's in 3 parts...

How much money can you make busking - Part 1
How much money can you make busking - Part 2
How much money can you make busking - Part 3

(His website is here - )

Here's what he says...

How much you can make depends on a lot of factors...
  • How good are you?
  • What you do? (e.g. guitarist, magician, juggler, human statue, etc.)
  • Where are you busking?

How good are you?

Obviously, it goes without saying, the better you are at what you do, the more money you'll make.

What do you do?

Skeet says people who do "circle shows" can make quite a bit of money, if they're good. "Circle shows" are those people who actually put on a show (which may last half an hour or so)... People like jugglers, magicians, and so on. Usually there's a lot of comedy thrown in, too!

He calls them "circle shows" because they may spend up to 20 minutes first gathering a crowd... These people gather in a "circular" crowd around the busker, watch the show, then all put money in the hat when the show is finished.

Those who don't put on a "show" but just do their thing - like musicians, human statues, etc., while people walk past putting money in a hat - generally are not able to make as much money as the "circle show" people.

Where are you busking?

Some places in the world are much better than others for busking. Especially places with lots of tourists.

Skeet is a guitarist, and he mentioned that at places like Venice beach, California, or Key West, Florida, he could make $150 to $200 in 2, 3, or 4 hours of busking.

However, in his home town (he doesn't say where it is), for 3 or 4 hours, he can make $65 on a good day.

However, he's said at these good locations (like Venice Beach), he says he's seen "circle show" buskers take in hundreds of dollars for one 35-minute show. And they might do 4 or 5 shows like that a day. (I think $1,000 dollar days may be possible for these people, at least on some days.)

He says tourists will "outspend" locals 5 to 1, so you'll make a lot more money busking at places where you'll find lots of tourists.

Anyway, it's clear you can make very good money at busking - if you're very good at it, if you have the right kind of act, and if you're busking in the right location (during tourist season)!

However, it is a skilled line of work - so you have to have the skills, or be willing to develop the skills, to do it well!

One last thing is Skeet also mentions are the dangers. He mentioned specifically places like New York City and Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. While there are dangers from criminals, he said in some places there can also be dangers from the other buskers if you're in the wrong place, and they don't want you there! (Because you're taking their crowd...)

Anyway... I found this topic interesting... I've always thought being a busker could be fun - but unfortunately, I'm too untalented...

However, I wonder if the "off-key singing busker" show would work?

Best wishes,


Last edited by Dien Rice : December 22, 2011 at 07:53 PM.
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