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How to become a busker in Melbourne

Trinity College Foundation Studies

Tue Aug 12 2014


EVER wondered what it’s like being a busker? We speak to two students from Trinity College Foundation Studies looking to take their musical talents to the streets and ask local buskers for their advice. Hactor Wong and Letitia Wong have the details!

Melbourne is often referred to as Australia’s cultural capital and is home to a large number of buskers from Australia and other parts of the world. You can find them all around the city, singing, juggling, miming, dancing or drawing!

While busking may look relatively easy – find a good spot with plenty of foot traffic and just start – what many aspiring buskers may not know are the legal requirements needed in order to perform on the street.

Take for example the following two Trinity College students.


Kay Zhao (left) and Leo Liu (right): hopeful buskers in Melbourne. Images provided by Kay Zhao and Liu Chang respectively.

Kay Zhao (pictured left) is from China and really loves music. He wants to be a busker in Melbourne during the holidays and has already formed an idea about performing acapella and Chinese songs.

Meanwhile, Leo Liu (pictured right), also from China, was formerly in a band and has had experience playing on a music festival level. Despite their different performance styles, both are keen to break into Melbourne’s busking scene but weren’t sure how to.

Before Kay or Leo are allowed to busk on the street, they have to apply for a permit to be able to perform on the street. The City of Melbourne suggests that all aspiring buskers ought to adhere to the following rules:

  • Before busking, you need pay $10 to $50 for application and permit.
  • Busking must take place in a permitted area
  • Be sure to make sure your sound level is acceptable

More information on what the City of Melbourne considers acceptable as a street performer, visit their official website for clarity.

So you’ve got your pass and defined exactly what’s appropriate as a busker in the City of Melbourne. Great! Now it’s all about trying to connect with the people of Melbourne.

Melbourne buskers Alan and Max started busking five years ago, when they were in England. An average day for the pair sees them take home anywhere between $50 and $100 each time. Besides the extra cash, they busk because it’s something they enjoy as a hobby.

Their tips for those looking to get into Melbourne’s busking scene:

  • Choose a good place to perform where you can attract lots of pedestrians like Melbourne Central, State Library, Myer etc.
  • Choose a suitable time – Fridays and Saturdays are quite ideal
  • Choose songs that sound pleasant that’ll attract ears