This post’s title or something resembling it, often finds its way to the Busker’s Handbook mailbox. Well, if you feel that less then 0,1% of all buskers becoming famous is scientific proof that busking is a fastlane to stardom, be my guest.
On the website buskerworld.com (pretty fine source for buskers actually) there’s an elaborate list of famous artists that have busked sometime in their carreer. Nevertheless: not many became famous because they were buskers, but in spite of. Very few of them were discovered on the street while doing their thing.
Don’t expect fame to grab you by the neck and drag you to a major record deal, just because you’re singing a song on the street. What really got most of them to become famous is the fact they knew people. Having a large circle of friends and acquintances, chances are that someone of them has an uncle that owns a club where you can play, or a neighbour who cleans the lavatory in the building of a record company. It’s not the busking that is your ticket to stardom… it’s the people you know that recognise your talent and circle interesting social networks.
The fact that there are famous people who were once buskers, doesn’t mean anything. Just that they haven’t always been famous. Some former presidents of the USA were great horsemen, but who would try to become president by learning to ride a horse?
It all comes down to this:
– Do you busk because it’s a fun way to earn some money? Than by al means enjoy yourself.
– Do you busk to get famous? Busk less and socialise more.
Chances are you know a lot of people as a busker. People who live on the streets, people who clean the streets, people who chase you away, people you owe money to, cops who keep asking for your ID, streetgangs, … But that’s not really the sort of network that will get you a gig or a chance to get heard by a radio jockey or A&R person.
One of the most quoted “busk-to-richess” stories is that of John Bon Jovi. Well, maybe it’s true, maybe he really was discovered while busking and now uses 100 dollar bills to clean up his dog’s poo. But do you really want to be the next Bon Jovi, when these accompanying looks are required?