Ten Starting Points for a Buskers Code

10 Starting Points for a Buskers Code

Businesses have been getting their knickers in a twist again about buskers on the streets of the city.

A buskers’ code agreed between regular buskers and traders and residents that is clearly visible in popular busking spots around this small, compact city is well worth persuing before wrapping ourselves up in legal knots and slapping low-income buskers with fines. 

Here are ten suggestions from the PROC to start the conversation:

1. Amps are the problem, not buskers
If you listen to those complaining about buskers in the city centre, the root of the problem is really just speaker amplification. They might come across as cranky, but when you strip the frustration away the traders’ real issue is how loud buskers have become.

This is mainly because battery powered amplifiers have become really cheap and many buskers have them now so the traders are factually correct in that sense – busking overall has become louder.

2. Buskers don’t actually need amps to perform
The reality is that the overwhelming majority of buskers don’t need the amplification. Most are singers with acoustic guitars or they are string or horn players – they only use the microphones and speakers in an attempt to attract more attention.

There is also something far more organic and pure about buskers that perform without amplification - acoustic performances often come across as more soulful.

3. If you sing or play along to a backing track you are doing karaoke
Are you, seriously, that lacking in self-confidence that you need to singalong to a backing track through a microphone instead of singing solo? Don’t treat Pana like your bedroom.

4. Shops that use amplifiers will have to be reined in too
If buskers are to give up their amplifiers then it’s only fair that shops on the main street in the city pumping loud music into the street will have to make concession too – otherwise it looks like buskers lose and businesses win.

5. Boredom Alert: Regular buskers must understand that most people have heard them many times
Most buskers perform for about an hour, once a week at the most – many far less than that.
However, there are about ten acts that seem to treat busking like a full time job.

Busking undoubtedly adds a positive, fun atmosphere to the city but that is generated by events that are new, interesting and unexpected.

If you are playing the same stuff over and over and over and over again it sucks the life out of the city’s atmosphere.
6. Buskers should be allowed to sell CDs
Buskers often have to put up with drunks and drug addicts interfering with their performance – it’s not an easy way to turn some coin. The vast majority of buskers have below average incomes so busking is often a way to pay the bills in a country with spiralling rents – business people need to respect this and buskers should always be allowed to sell CDs.

7. Let the public decide if a busker is good or not.
There have been suggestions from councillors previously that buskers should have to perform in front of a committee before being permitted to busk. This is ridiculous – if a busker is awful then they’ll get the message when they look at how much money is in the case after they’ve performed.

8. All buskers should respect each other’s space
On a recent Saturday around Brown Thomas on St. Patrick Street there were three competing busking acts within 50 metres of each other, all with amplification resulting in what sounded like a pack of roaring goats scraping their nails on a blackboard attached to the back of a revving motorbike driven by a chainsaw wielding hyena .

No busker with amplification or drums should set up within 50 metres of another.

9. If your act is not a musical act you don’t need an amplifier
If you are a “visual artist” then be visual. End of. 

10. Busk for an hour then move on
Buskers should commit to performing for an hour in one place, then move on. Watch the clock, and don’t hog a public space. Share Cork with your fellow buskers.