Posted by: londonbusking | December 9, 2011


Posted by: londonbusking | December 7, 2011

Former busker releases charity Christmas single

A former busker’s band, Luminites, is set to release a Christmas single for charity.

The band’s member Ben Francis, 18, busked in London for 18 months while he was homeless.  He was busking outside Covent Garden tube station when he was discovered by his now manager.

Luminites are helping to raise money for Centrepoint’s Christmas campaign that is trying to prevent youth homelessness.

Ben said to the Metro: “‘I spent every day for 18 months busking

Not only did I love it – it also enabled me to eat.

So now it feels like fate that I can help Centrepoint.”

The Centrepoint home for Christmas appeal has raised £162,000 so far and aims to reach £300,000 by Christmas Eve.

Luminities cover of Streets of London by Ralph McTell is released today.

Posted by: londonbusking | December 3, 2011

Interview with Andy Christie

Andy Christie is a trained mime and actor. His acts include anything from a seven foot unicycle to juggling knives. I asked him about his experiences of busking in Covent Garden.

How long have you been busking for? Have you busked in other places other than Covent Garden?

20 years and most European countries, plus Australasia and performances in South East Asia, where it’s not, perhaps strictly busking as one does it more to make friends than money. There are busking festivals all over the world and it’s possible just to rock up to a city or town in Europe and create a show. Some countries are more civilised than others when it comes to official attitudes towards busking.

What is the best thing about busking in Covent Garden?

Covent Garden is a known spot for busking and therefore people come specifically to watch shows, which can make it easier. It’s also a very large space so you can entertain a lot of people at once. It can also be a very social place. A little like turning up to a club where you know everyone.
What’s your fondest memory since you started to perform?
Many good memories. Great festivals I have attended. Doing joint shows in the rain, just for fun. That show that you pull off against all odds. The one that just goes perfectly from start to finish great audience, all the tricks nailed, some good improvisation, and good money.

What’s more important to you performing or earning money?

For me performing is more important, I earn less than I could earn at other things. However the mortgage must be paid…
Is busking your main source of income?

Most street performers also do gigs when they come up and may be on the books of several entertainment agencies. Whether most money comes from busking or gigs, depends on the time of year, and can vary from year to year.
Have you experienced any problems in your career as a busker?

As regards problems, we all have been to towns where the official attitude is anti-street performing and have been shut down. Even in London, Covent Garden is the only licensed venue. Anywhere else one is at the mercy of official attitudes which can vary day to day.
Do you have any tips for other buskers or those who may wish to start?

The most important thing is to make contact with the audience, whether busking to walk-bys, or creating a circle show, your relationship with people is paramount.

Also, just go out and do it. You only get better with practice.

Posted by: londonbusking | November 25, 2011

Katherine Jenkins busked in London

Katherine Jenkins busked in Leicester Square tube station on Tuesday.

The opera star, who had never busked before, sang for 45 minutes to surprised commuters.

Jenkins, 31, was wearing a brown wig, a holey jumper, ripped jeans and boots as a ‘disguise’.

pic of katherine jenkins singing

rights reserved by branestawm2002

She said to the Evening Standard: “I was really really enjoying myself. On the initial first note I thought ‘Oh god, I don’t know how this is going to work out’, it was quite an operatic number and I wasn’t sure how it would be received. But by the second number people were stopping and I really enjoyed it.

It’s got a great acoustic down there, I didn’t want it to end. It felt like we were doing something quite special down there.”

The reason she decided to busk was for a feature for ES magazine.

She made approximately £16 which she is going to donate to charity.

Posted by: londonbusking | November 18, 2011

From busker to business woman

Courtney Orange used to busk in Covent Garden and now runs a company called Streets United, which involves busking, street sports and urban arts. I asked her some questions about her experiences of busking in London.

How long have you been busking for? Have you busked in other places other than Covent Garden?

For about 3 years, yes I have busked in other cities like Birmingham and Manchester.

What is the best thing about busking in Covent Garden?

You have your own stage and you are the highlight of attention to any and everyone.

What’s your fondest memory since you started to perform?

When I got out a woman from the crowd and one of my participation gags is to take off my t-shirt whilst she is following my every movement. It just so happened that the woman took off her t-shirt too and was left with only her bra………..many amazed faces all round!!

What’s more important to you performing or earning money?

If you enjoy what you love to do money will follow & if you really enjoy what you love doing it doesn’t matter if you earn a lot or a little after a show

Is busking your main source of income? If not is that an aim for the future?

No, it was never going to be right from the start after having seen and spoken to guys that have busked in Covent garden for over 20-30 years, I did not want to end up relying on the streets as a source of income for the rest of my life. It is and was just a form of enjoyment in the “summer months”

Have you experienced any problems in your career as a busker?

No not really, if you followed the right channels there is always a way to get a license. Whilst performing yes……. a few interruptions from dunk people, disruptive school kids and Covent Garden management

Do you have any tips for other buskers or those who may wish to start?

Follow and believe in what you do and are capable of doing, never let anything get in your way


The video has all Rights reserved to Streets United.

Posted by: londonbusking | November 3, 2011

From one busker to another…

It’s all well and good for me to try to find you tips about how to start busking (or to become more successful) in London but surely it’s better directly from the horse’s mouth. I spoke to Carwyn Tywyn, a Welsh folk harpist who once busked in London for his tips about busking.

Where are the best places to busk in London?

I would say it depends on the type of act. I suppose outside Covent Garden Market would be the “Mecca” of busking, but personally I would probably struggle to hold an audience there, given that I play a fairly quiet instrument. Even with amplification, I doubt I would hold down a crowd. If I was forced to to move to London tomorrow to be a musician, I dare say that I would spend my time travelling out to busk in smaller towns in East Anglia or Hampshire, rather than struggle in the big city.

Is busking at tube stations seen as the best place to be from the point of view of a busker?

I think there’s quite a lot of romance attached to busking on the tube. I didn’t try it during my visit, as I was wary of being caught by the authorities. There are some great acoustics to be had in some of the tunnel walkways. But on the downside it can get intolerably hot. And I would be terrified of the rats!!!

How long did you busk in London for?

One day, but I did move around – Leicester Square, Carnaby Street and a couple of other places. I just about covered my train fare, but it was a struggle! Rather bizarrely, I was offered a 6-month tour of Sweden with a theatre company, which I turned down. I often wonder, what if…

Why did you start busking? Do you still busk now you live in Wales?

I started busking at age 15, in the town of Aberystwyth, with a small guitar. I just had an urge to get out and sing some political and folk songs that I had been learning in my bedroom for a number of months. I started getting small gigs in the town. I then busked occasionally with the harp as an undergraduate student, and then funded my PhD (in politics) by busking for 6 years across south Wales. (1997-2003). Busking is now part of my income as a semi-professional harpist in my adult life.

What are your tips for other buskers out there?

Assessing your pitch is very important. Is there a steady flow of people? Are there good acoustics? Are you likely to cause an obstruction or be a nuisance to shopkeepers? Are you playing directly outside a shop window – again a possible cause for complaint from shopkeepers? Is there too much background noise? This all comes from experience…

Posted by: londonbusking | October 21, 2011

Matt Cardle busks in London…

The winner of the X Factor 2010 busked in London yesterday as part of the Big Issue’s busking gig.

Matt Cardle played a short set in Carnaby Street to about 250 people. The Big Issue  ‘Big Busks’ scheme aims to raise awareness of homelessness and to celebrate their 20th Anniversary. Ellie Goulding and Razorlight have also previously busked as part of the  project.

During the set he  played 2 songs off his new album: ‘letters’ and ‘all or nothing’ as well as a cover of Duffy’s ‘Mercy’.

The crowd were encouraged to buy an issue of the magazine and the volunteers at the event were giving people more information about the Big Issue.

Matt is on the cover of this week’s Big Issue magazine. If you want to attend the next ‘Big busk’ follow @BigIssue on Twitter to find out when the next event will be held.

Videos filmed by Katie Norwood

Posted by: londonbusking | October 20, 2011

Want to be a busker: here’s a few tips

Before 2003 busking in London was seen (by some) as a form of begging. But in the past 8 years regulations and laws have been put in place which has changed busking in London.

There are now 39 official pitches that you can busk at in 25 different tube stations. Performers can play for up to 2 hours but to do so you will need to book a time slot and arrange which station you will play at in advance. To get your name on waiting list for a license email, there are auditions twice a year.

You also need a license to busk in Covent Garden, which you also have to audition for it. If you are lucky enough to get a license it is valid for a year.

But do you need a license to busk elsewhere in London? The 2003 Licensing Act says:
“In most circumstances busking, in the sense that the word is normally used, will not be licensable.

Busking is usually “incidental” to other activities – such as shopping – or the premises where the music is played will not have been provided for busking to take place. There may however be instances that fall outside of this, and other laws and by-laws may apply. Licensing authorities will be able to tell individual performers whether or not they need permission to perform in any given circumstances.”

But be careful to check the regulations for the spot you want to busk – you may risk getting a fine or even prison if you perform in certain busk free areas. Some places in London like Redbridge allow people to busk but only if the proceeds go to charity. Other regulations include an age limit – no one under 14 is allowed to busk.