Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Buskers Survival Guide - Busking in Liverpool

Liverpool is a very rich musical city and very welcoming to buskers, it has one law regarding playing on the streets...Find a spot, play as loud as you want for as long as you want whenever you want!  The police will never hassle you, but instead ask you if everything is ok.  The people really love street music and especially on the weekends the streets are very lively.  You will have to bang out wonderwall once or twice, but it's worth it when the whole street is singing with you.

You find street music everywhere in Liverpool, but Church Street is the main place to play day and night with an amplifier.  Be prepared to turn up loud though, as people will set up a few metres away from you and start playing.There are lots of Romanians, mostly with solo intruments i.e accordion, but sometimes they group together with drums, keys and brass and hold the spot for 8 hours they claim to not speak English so sometimes communication is hard, but you can still space yourself enough to hold your ground.

Acoustic busking is still possible, but being surrounded by amps and the noise of a busy city it can sometimes get lost, but there are places you can play and enjoy the benefits of playing old skool busking.  The subway at Lime Street that leads to the Wirral Line is a great spot, and this is where I started out as a busker.  It has a great reverb and bursts of passing traffic.  You can get by here and make your beer money and train fare, but it's not likely to make more than 20 or 30 quid.

Another good quiet place for acoustic is in Bold Street, this was my favourite place to play with an amp also, it has a nice quiet to the place, and a narrow walkway with walls both sides, so the sound really bounces back and you can hear yourself, even with an amp in Church Street it can get lost, but Bold Street has a very nice acoustic to the place, and acoustic buskers do almost as good here as amplified buskers.  You have your Big Issue sellers, so it's best to keep on good terms with them.

Liverpool One is a great place to play, and the only place in Liverpool that you need a permit to play, but alls you have to do is send them a link to a youtube video and they accept you.  Then you email them and book on a slot for 2 hours maximum per day.  This was a great way of doing things for us, because you could look at it like a routine and a job.  It takes the random element away of someone being in your favourite spot and you having to look for another one.   When you know you have 2 hours in a good spot at the same time every day you can start to make a good living as a busker.

Whitechapel is another place to play, but it doesn't have a narrow walk way and people walk behind you and the sound just doesnt bounce back so it's hard to hear yourself sometimes, but it was a good back up spot if Bold Street was taken for us.  There are other spots in and around this area, but those are the main ones.  You can get by good in the day and make a good hat, but to really fill the hat you have to do the night times.

The best thing about Liverpool is that they are happy drunks, there is a great electric atmosphere on the streets at night and you feel a part of it when you are singing their favourite songs and they are all emptying their pockets in your hat.  Between 6 and 9 on a Friday and Saturday is the calm before the storm, people are getting a little drunk and the drops are steadily flowing, then just after 9 the night switches, buskers crawl out from every corner, the drunks are getting louder and drunker but this is the golden time to play.  Get there at 6 to secure your spot, and if you have the stamina to play till eleven you can really make a good living as a busker here in Liverpool.

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