Busking With Your Own Songs (And Why You Probably Shouldn’t)

Posted: December 28, 2009 in 1
Tags: , , , , ,

Well you know I don’t encourage singing your own songs.

The obvious reasons are:
1. People tend to pay more easily when they hear a song they know.
2. A million great songs have already been written, so there’s no use to add mediocre ones.
3. Your own songs are probably too autobiographic, which means they make people sad. Sad people don’t pay.
4. You are a busker, not a singer-songwriter that can’t get a gig.
5. Your own songs sound like the songs of artists you like. So why don’t you just play their music?

If none of the 5 reasons above are enough to stop you from singing your own songs anyway, at least take in consideration the following useful hints.

1. Only play the ones that are up-tempo, catchy and loud. Introvert songs about how hard life is because that girl doesn’t notice you, may sound good in the privacy of your own bedroom at 2 am, but they sure won’t amuse frantic shoppers hunting for a late christmas present.

emo poetry

2. Easy on the lyrics. People pay for a cheerful and nonsensical “lalala”, not for a 15 page-excerpt of your diary.
3. Add humour to your songs, but don’t shock people. A song about a cow is funny. A song about sexual acts with a cow is hilarious, but don’t go there.
4. No minor scales, unless it is in the style of an old drinking song.
5. Don’t announce the songs as “one of my own”. People won’t listen to it, because they think your songs suck, otherwise you would be an famous artist and not a busker. It is far more satisfying when people say: “Hey, that was a nice song. Whose is it?”

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Comments
  1. Theo says:

    whoever left this comment is an asshole… bitter and unable to cross the river of doubt, meaningless… KEEP GOING!!!!!! don’t stop!:) Those comments are to be ignored!!!

  2. I absolutely admire your blog.I can see you are putting a lot of effort and hard work on your posts, I’m sure I’d visit here more often. You may also want to visit my site. It’s about impersonator, acrobatics, unicycling, mentalist and a lot more about other forms of entertainment. Just check it out…

  3. Busking Gal says:

    As long as you are enjoying it and providing quality entertainment then you will do well. I have found it makes no difference whether I play original songs or covers, as long as I am into the music and make people happy I do well. When I was less experienced I used to think that it really mattered whether the crowd knows the song or not but came to realise its whether or not I am enjoying it. Hope this helps,
    Busking Gal

  4. neil child says:

    Busking is the best! I read lots on busking — and your notions are quite akin to mine. Excellent posts!

  5. As long as you are enjoying it and providing quality entertainment then you will do well. I have found it makes no difference whether I play original songs or covers, as long as I am into the music and make people happy I do well. When I was less experienced I used to think that it really mattered whether the crowd knows the song or not but came to realise its whether or not I am enjoying it. Hope this helps,Busking Gal
    +1

  6. Heartland says:

    Some good points about song selection, great stuff to be aware of. Hit the nail on the head concerning some of my own songs with regards to inundating the listener with words. This blog will be in the back of my mind when I’m writing new songs.

  7. Nathan says:

    Hi there,

    I’m writing an article on busking, primarily focused on the US, for Wand’rly Magazine and am looking for buskers, particularly (but not only) any who might travel fulltime while busking and/or are lucky enough to be able to busk as their primary job in life, who are also interested in answering a few questions or doing a short interview.

    If you know of anyone, please do send them my contact info or vice versa.

    Thank you!

    Nathan
    wandrlymagazine.com

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