Have you ever noticed the violinist playing next to the cement wall with an open case on the sidewalk? Or the singer on his cajun drum sitting next to an open jar with a handful of coins inside? How much money do street musicians make?
Street musicians can make anywhere from $17.5k to $100k per year depending on location, timing, and consistency. Other factors that play into a street musician’s success are catering to their audiences, charisma, stage presence, weather, transportation, presentation, and safety.
This article will provide more information on the financial state of street performers. Read on to learn how much the average street performer earns annually and what factors impact their total earnings.
Estimates About How Much Street Musicians Make
The amount of money street musicians make varies depending on their location, the type and quality of music they play, and their consistency. Street musicians in more populated areas have a higher income than street performers in areas with smaller populations. Those that establish a regular and frequent playing routine will also make more money, and most choose to play at the same few locations.
On average, you can make anywhere from $0 to $100 in one hour as a street musician. The more you work, the more you make. However, this is an incredibly unreliable source of income and varies from day to day. Two hours outside playing could earn you absolutely nothing. However, you could also make almost $100 at the same time.
Places like New York, Nashville, New Orleans, and other bustling cities are beautiful places to busk (another word for performing as a street musician), as there are a lot of tourists and many people will pass by as you are playing and will potentially give you money.
How Does Location Impact How Much Street Musicians Make?
Street music is much like real estate. The state, city, street, and even the corner of the restaurant a musician decides to play in are each game-changing parts of how much money they will make.
Any of these factors could be why street musicians earn only $10 when they could have made nearly four to five times that much with only a tiny adjustment.
Playing in busy areas, such as somewhere close to a lot of food places, for example, can open up a lot of potential for a street musician. Hours of the day that are busiest, generally around mealtimes, bring in the most people and often are the hours in which street musician makes most of their profit for the day.
Street musicians are wise to play near restaurants during these hours. Hawaii is an incredibly effective location because many people pass through daily. This is why highly touristy areas can be so popular with street musicians.
It is also essential to set up in the right place. Once I sat in a more visible area, I could see the people I was singing to and make eye contact. I could put my tip jar in front of me where they could see it. I started making more money when I did so.
The Best Timing For Street Musicians
You have heard of rush hour for traffic. Well, there are rush hours for street musicians too.
Subways, buses, and train stations are all great places to play because people constantly filter in and out. You are likely to receive more contributions in areas that are especially busy at specific times. One example would be working near public transportation in the morning as people go to work, and school and in the evening while many people head home for the night.
Being there during these busy times is vital because that is when the most revenue comes in. Because you aren’t technically clocking into any job, street performers are encouraged to work at these opportune times, as this is when they will likely make the most money.
Tips For Growing Your Income As A Street Musician
Play Covers At First, But Transition Into Original Content
Having charisma and a stage presence is extremely important as a street musician. Interacting with the audience can help increase your income significantly. Covers usually make more money than originals. However, once the audience gets to know you, they are more likely to appreciate your original work. People want to sing along.
Use A QR Code
You should also give different ways to pay and contact your fans. Start with a giant tip jar that’s easy to get to and include a big sign with a QR code. The code provides links to all their social media accounts, Cash App, and Venmo (you can provide all of these on one page with a link collection site like Linktree).
Provide Multiple Payment Methods
Many people are inclined to pay via some methods over others. Putting a Venmo account out there gives people who don’t normally carry cash the opportunity to still support you at their own convenience. Others prefer to use cash or find that a great way to get rid of their extra change is to donate it to street musicians, so this is an effective method as well.
Stay Nice And Ask About People
Stay friendly while mentioning tips and talking to people listening between songs. Consider it like a customer service position. You want to encourage people to stick around (and spend more money).
Staying Consistent As A Busker
Street musicians are their own bosses, meaning they can decide their schedules and work as much or as little as they want. While it is possible to work out deals with local attractions, street musicians work for themselves at the end of the day.
This is a challenging career because even the most consistent and talented street musicians can work for weeks and earn very little money. By going to work during the most productive hours and utilizing their skills, street musicians can maximize the potential money they can make. Still, there needs to be more consistency and security that accompanies the life of a street musician.