Monday, December 5, 2011

Busking in Melbourne Australia

I came to Melbourne in November 2011 to enjoy the cultural capital of Australia. It is the most livable city in the world after all. And during this holiday, I decided to busk for the fun of it.

2 Months
Playing the guitar and singing is my hobby. I truly believe that you need to learn at least one musical instrument or singing in order to be happy + successful in life. Eric S Raymond considers it compulsory for a programmer ( Also the best tour of city is from the buskers eye :) 

Getting started equipment
  • An amp. I looked around. Went with Roland Cube Street. Worth every penny.
  • A guitar. Ibanez Montage MSC350BK. One amazing instrument.
  • A capo. Dunlop capos are really good. 
  • A mic + stand. Got a great deal on this JTS Mic + stand combo :
  • Some cables 
  • A cowboy hat made of straw. Really windy in Melbourne. Being straw, its holes lets the wind through plus it has a string to keep it on my head. And really protects against the sun.
  • Shades. So your eyes don't ache. 
  • Sports Gloves. To carry the guitar case + amp around town without injuring my palms. 
Getting a License
Just go to town hall. 

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They will give you a booklet along with dates for a safety and amenity review meeting. You can also just download the booklet + form from here. Also the dates are mentioned here:

But its nice to visit town hall still.

The safety and amenity review 
It takes place inside this building:

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Go in on the review date and time and the receptionist will give you a printed badge + ask you to wait. There is no queue. And considering there were very few people there is no need for a queue.

The meeting is really great. You can read the locations you are not allowed to play in the booklet but having a discussion over it is awesome so you remember where you cannot go and why. e.g. you are not allowed to setup right next to the wall because blind people will not be able to navigate by just touching the wall and will bump into you. Parts of Swanston street that are disallowed for amplification are because Melbourne has horse carriages parked there and horses don't necessarily mix well with amplification.

You are expected to bring all the instruments you are going to use. I took my guitar and my amp. They did not test the amp since pretty much anything that just runs on batteries is allowed. Generators are not allowed.

They asked me to play and I played a bit. As long as you are not just downright terrible they are fine with it. 15 seconds of playing is fine. Although they ask you to have 5 minutes prepared no one had to play that much.

Next they take your picture. And then you go to town hall to submit your cash. A one year general area permit for the first time costs 20 dollars. The actual permit is mailed in a week or you can opt to collect it from town hall. Keep the receipt you get from town hall because that is your interim permit for that duration.

This permit is valid for suburbs under the "City of Melbourne" :

My first day
Did not go as well as I hoped. But to be honest I played at the time when no one else was busking around me (that explains it). I only made 2 dollars in half an hour and since I didn't have my mic with me (the mic case hadn't arrived yet) I decided to retire before a sore throat. I played under the tree here from around 11:00am to 11:30am :

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All in all it was fun. Basically busking is the only way you can play to your hearts content + play for an audience and not have your neighbors annoyed. So even if you don't make money its good to go out and have some fresh air and meet people. About three people admired my amp and asked me where I got it from. I bought it from allans music billy hyde here:

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