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In the street the man stands still as a statue, quiet, until someone throws a quarter in his hat and then the statue shifts, suddenly taking on a new shape. And music floats in the air from the woman near the platform, playing a guitar and singing old Beatles tunes. People toss money and subway tickets into her open guitar case as they make their way to work, home, or school. She has CDs to sell, and a sign on her case says she has permission from the local government to be there.

While these are two examples of buskers. Buskers are not limited to mime or music. They can be actors, comedians, fire eaters, sword-swallowers, sidewalk chalk artists or fortune tellers. Buskers are performers who take their talents to the streets, working for change from tourists, shoppers, and people rushing off to work. Some days they are really successful, bringing home a few hundred dollars, while other days they may only make enough for a cup of coffee.

Some buskers, like the guitar player, have registered with the city or subway, been assigned a specific spot, and play in order to get their music heard by the general public, agents, producers, club owners and other musicians. They may also work performing concerts and shows around town, and busk for practice or extra cash. Other buskers might take their act around the world, defraying travel expenses as they tour Europe or North America.

There are as many reasons for busking as there are buskers out there. Buskers can be in it for the long haul, taking their talents to festivals, television shows and major tourist destinations, while others get out there and play in the sunshine for a few hours each week. Busking is fun, unpredictable, and enjoyable for the performer and tourists alike.
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Regent University is one of the nation’s leading academic centers for Christian thought and action.

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  Interests and Skills  
Buskers need enormous amounts of stamina, creativity and courage. They need to be confident, with good communication skills. They must also be disciplined, self-motivated and able to accept criticism. Buskers also need patient, persistent, and they must enjoy having an audience. Buskers, by nature of the work, need to be a little bit of a salesperson, and they must be able to come up with new and creative ways to market their skills to the audience. Finally buskers need to be a good communicators, who can read an audience's feelings, emotions and moods.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Create performance routines and sometimes a character
  • Rehearse the act
  • Dress in costumes to suit the performance
  • Perform an act in front of an audience
  • Travel throughout the world
  • A typical day for a busker involves a lot of performing. They also revise, retrain, and rewrite their acts. Depending on their act or skill, a busker will use a lot of energy in the performance. Each day is unpredictable, and a busker can change location daily, or remain in the same spot for weeks on end. They set their own hours but, they cannot as easily control the conditions they may have to work in, like rain, extreme heat, or noisy, crowded indoor locations. A busker relies on the generosity of the tourists or townspeople, so if the money is not flowing, a busker may just leave town and look for a new spot to try their luck. Busking may often be a side career for people who are trying to make it in theater, dance, or music.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Buskers are self-employed, and may have other jobs to supplement their busking. They generally work outdoors, although some may be found in bus stations, on subway platforms, in parks and gardens and in lobbies of large buildings. Buskers sometimes have to register with the city in order to prevent them from being asked to "move along" by the police or security guards. They try and get to where the people are, so buskers entertain on main streets in tourist locations. This can take them all over the world. They sometimes enter competitions and busker festivals.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Depending on their skills there may be many opportunities for career growth as a busker. Musicians can become recording artists, touring the world and producing albums. Acrobats, jugglers and clowns can go to circus school and become circus performers. Buskers can take their acts to clubs, parties, comedy shows and talk shows. They can become actors, dancers, writers, or artists. Taking their talents to agents, talent scouts, or busker festivals is a way to get noticed and advance their careers.

  Educational Paths  
There are no specific educational requirements for people who plan on becoming buskers, although you definitely need some talent. Buskers are generally self-taught, although there are some classes for performers. Music lessons, juggling classes, voice lessons and acting classes would all be helpful to anyone interested in becoming a busker. . Serious buskers way want to consider learning new languages, as well as taking some marketing, business, and sales courses at a community college. It may be helpful for prospective buskers to speak to established buskers about how they got started.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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