Street Performing, or busking, is the practice of performing in public places for money and edibles. It is one of the world's oldest professions, and happens in almost every major culture in the world. Street Performers are also called street musicians, minstrels, or troubadours. Busking was the most common means of
employment for musicians and entertainers before the advent of recording and personal electronics.
In Nashville, street performers are seen every day. If you are planning on coming downtown to give it a try, then there are a few things you might want to know, and a little advice.
You do not need a permit to busk in downtown Nashville. If you are approached by the Nashville Alliance, chances are it is because they have received a complaint on your
or volume. The Nashville Alliance is trying to work with the local
street performers, and would not ask you to move unless they had to.
Please, the Nashville Alliance is attempting to work with us, so help us work with them.
Amplification for street performers IS FROWNED UPON. If you plan on bringing out an amplifier anyway, then please keep it a a decent volume level so that other performers and businesses around you may prosper. You should only be playing to your area, not across the street or down the block.
When you come downtown to perform you will find that your audience will consist of all walks of life. There will be locals, tourists, children, punks, hippies, business men, grandparents and more. With this in mind, please watch your subject matter. Performing songs with foul language and references to drugs or sex is not appropriate for noon on Sunday. Use common sense.
When you perform, you give a face to the city of Nashville, so present yourself well. You will find that if you stand, rather than sit on the concrete, your tips will go up. This is because you are putting yourself on your audience's level. If you look clean and sober, same result. The more that everyone watches their manners and takes themselves seriously, the more tips everyone makes.
This also applies to aggressively soliciting for tips, distasteful cardboard signs, and panhandling. All of these things perpetuate the image that street performers are nothing but glorified form of beggar. This limited way of thinking keep creative folks from sharing on the street.
Many famous people have busked, including Benjamin Franklin who composed songs and poetry about the political situation of his era and performed them in public. He would also sell printed copies of his work. His father discouraged busking by convincing him that the stigmas some people attach to busking were not worth it. This experience helped Benjamin Franklin form his belief in free speech and is documented in his journals.