Musicians' Diary, Pics on Tour

Busking in European cities – Part 2

Let’s talk today about busking in the German world, which means Germany, Austria and Switzerland (sorry, I will not be talking about german minorities from Hungary, Czech republic, Romania or Serbia…).

Germany : it seems that there’s no particular regulation as far as I know (maybe I’m wrong !), but what I can say is that you should never busk in front of a bank or a jewellery. You’ll get kicked off by security staff even before you start playing ! 😉 I had this experience in Ulm.

Ulm, next to the Cathedral.

The other thing I know from my own experience : don’t expect to earn much money from busking in Germany ! It is a very different atmosphere compared to Greece (for example), my feeling (maybe wrong) is that people look somewhat anxious !

Switzerland : Rather complicated, each city has its own rules. You may generally be supposed to ask a permission from local authorities, to pay around 70CHF for their agreement, plus around 7CHF per busking day. Beware ! Unless you know tips from experienced buskers, for example “wild” busking is allowed in Basel after 7pm !

Austria : When no regulation (Salzburg), you’ll be competing with local gipsies. People obviously fed up wouldn’t even notice your presence !

A different situation in Innsbruck, where people may be quite sensitive, unless you perform in the main touristic street (Herzog-Friedrich straBe), full of Asian tourist, they won’t drop you a single Euro (I tried ;)), maybe unless you play major-scaled accordion dressed up in a Tyrolean traditional costume !

A good busking place in Innsbruck. You can see the entrance of the touristic area at the other end of the square, that you should definitely avoid for busking 😉 !

Let’s point out something else : I have nothing against Tyrolean music, its major scales and its highly non-modal structure (1) ! I can prove it, we found a pub with a session inside with local musicians :

Graz : They have special regulations. The police was extremely friendly and gave me this brochure, specially dedicated to buskers ! Thanks to local authorities for their extreme devotion toward buskers 🙂 ! Everything you should know !

Busking regulation in Graz – Austria

Rules are simple, just get a free authorisation from Town Hall, and you can play in the whole pink area from 11 to 14 and 15 to 21 (is 13 the nap time ?), you have to switch place every 30 minutes…

Graz (Austria) – The main square.

(1) According to me, breton music and kurdish music for instance, are much closely connected than Breton and Fado, or Breton and Tyrolean music, which are TRUE western music 😉 !


Musicians' Diary

Busking in European cities – Part 1

Let me start a new topic let’s say busking-oriented. What you have to know before busking in any european countries… When touring, I always want to give a try, it’s always a good way to feel the ambiance and meet people, in other conditions than in a concert place.

A nice busking session by 0°C last winter, I even got a pastry !

Each country has its own rules or regulations regarding street performances such as busking. If for instance, UK is a quite “busker-friendly” country (see this older post  ), it may be another story in other countries…

Let’s start today with Greece ! Greece is actually a good example to convince you (and myself) that it’s always usefull to know the local regulations.

The local police station main door !

I must say I’ve been busking so many times in the centre of the same city, which is really a pleasure as people are extremely friendly with buskers. They smile at you, even old retired people give you coins, although most of them got their pension reduced by a half because of Troïka.

But last time, after 15 minutes busking, police asked me whether I had an authorisation !! I’m almost sure I saw the police ten times at least in this street ! As well as many buskers, and without any problem ! And none of my greek friends ever told me about these rules…

It used to be one of my favourite places for busking.

They asked me to follow them to the police office. A bit rough in the beginning, just treated as a beggar, and I don’t mean a beggar deserves being treated this way even though they got much more friendly at the end, when they realised I was not busking in order to bother people, but mostly for my own pleasure. “But you’re selling CD’s, that’s illegal !” “Don’t worry, I haven’t sold any !” I said… I wonder if the right reply would have been “Do you get a receipt when you leave a banknote on the icon of the Virgin in a church ?” but I might have gone into deeper troubles 😉 !

After one hour and a half filling forms, they kept… 1€60 as a proof, and told me I’d receive news from the court (Yes !) within… two years ! OK, nothing dramatic, but if you’d like to try busking in Greece, please ask for your agreement from local authorities before !