Good Cities In The World For Acoustic/Singer-Songwriter And Live Music?
A bit of an irrelevant question with the travel bans going on at the moment, but from your point of view, what cities, states, and/or countries would you recommend for a traveling singer-songwriter? I would love to gig and busk when I travel so that I don't have to entirely rely on savings. I've heard that Berlin, Nashville, and Spain are great for live music - just to name a few. Which places come to mind for you?
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I think I answered this for you either on another forum or somewhere else, but I would say at this point, there are not a lot of places good for a traveling songwriter. Between travel restricitions, business shut downs, etc. and the explosion of people wanting to do this, you might find pretty much the only avenues are online. Not a good time for buskers.
I had mentioned that Nashville has a LOT of people trying to do the same thing. They have actually had to go into some regulation of buskers because there were just so many of them. They were often crowding the streets and forcing people into the streets, having to walk around them. That has changed obviously due to Covid, but I think when it does come back, it probably won't be like before. Many cities, like New Orleans, New York, Chicago, and other areas, had to demand artists get permits. I was once nearly beaten up in New Orleans, when I sat out my guitar case on the street. A VERY LARGE African American sax player, came up to me and not too subtely let me know I was on HIS CORNER, and it might be a good idea for me to move on. I would come to find out that all the buskers had to have permits, and they actually turned down a lot of those. Any tourist area are going to have their own rules.
So I would just suggest checking with locals in any area you are thinking of going to. The amount of people trying to physically do music has exploded in the Internet age. So supply is going to vastly exceed the demand, very easily. But any place you are going to travel to, needs to be researched before you just go set up and play. Might not be able to. Nothing is simple anymore.
I know this thread is a little old, but I thought I'd add to it. It's a good question. New Zealand is a great place for buskers. We have a busker's festival here. Lots of fun. The only cities I can say for certain are a busker's haven are Hamilton and Auckland. If you're good and you pick a good spot at a good time you can easily pull in $40 in an hour. Of course, then you need to move on or out come the tomatoes. You need a permit but they are free. Just take a couple working days to process through the City Council.
The problem right now is that our borders are closed to all but permanent residents and citizens of NZ and some Pacific Islands.
Another great busking city is Victoria, British Columbia in Canada. Spring and summer only though and lots of competition. Also, Little Italy in Montreal is awesome for busking. But, you've got to be really good.
"If you're good and you pick a good spot at a good time you can easily pull in $40 in an hour"
"The problem right now is that our borders are closed to all but permanent residents and citizens of NZ and some Pacific Islands."
Those two statements are pretty important here. First of all, a thing that most people never realize until they get out and try to start doing things are HOW MANY people are actually trying to do this. People under the age of 25, with no jobs, families, etc. are all into the romantacism of "getting out on the road, opening a guitar case, people throwing money at them, someone discovering them and they become stars" because they've seen that in so many movies, is a huge influence on them. It always looks easy. So there are a LOT of people trying to do it.
In Nashville, busking was not really a deal for many years because it was considered that if you were doing it, you weren't good enough to get into the regular clubs. Then, the Internet comes along and suddenly there are hundreds of thousands of people traveling to try and do that. At one point it was so bad here, they were forcing people to have to walk in the streets, to get around all the buskers on the sidewalks. Nashville was about to go to permits, until Covid knocked a lot of it out. But I expect it to come back in the future. Will probably be more buskers than tourists. And that means very little money for anyone.
Which leads to the second point. Most countries do have bans on who can come in to their countries. The US can't go to Canada these days. So traveling abroad, doesn't seem very relavant in this day and age. And as there are talks of "Third fourth waves, more vairants, etc. starting up, I think it's gonna be a while till we get to any form of "normal" if actually ever going back to a "normal" at all. And Canada, which has REALLY tough border walls, are very very interested if you are coming into their country to work at all. They don't really care for people coming in taking opportunities for Canadians. They want to know what you are doing, where you are going, and WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO LEAVE. As one border guard told me once as I was put into "THE ROOM" for additional questioning, "You know, I can turn you around and send you home now. We don't have to let you in this country." They are pretty tough on that.
At any rate, anyone traveling to any place for the purpose of busking or anything, would do themselves a favor to find some people who actually are DOING it or have done it and have a few conversations, as well as making themselves aware of laws, permits, customs, in whatever country they are thinking of. Like anything, some really enjoy it. But a lot of people are trying to enjoy it. So just check out any place you intend to try. Don't want to get beat up by someone when you step into "their territory."