At a time when unemployment
isn’t slowing down and a new generation of college graduates is facing unprecedented challenges in the job market
, an upswing in unconventional, DIY modes of income is no surprise. To make it as a busker
, though, modern street performers need to have something special to set them apart, whether it's by embracing technology or showcasing their elaborate talents in inventive new ways.
The Human Jukebox
: What if, like an old-school jukebox, street performers would queue up Lady Gaga or Bach on demand? Nearly everyone now has a mobile device
filled with music within arm’s reach, empowering them to do what is typically taken for granted—play any song at any given moment. Apps even enable democratized playlist curation
for parties. The ubiquity of this on-demand music culture is precisely why The Human Jukebox
, a New York-based busking duo that offers their audience control over the tunes in exchange for tips, is so appealing to passersby. At least when people actually remove their headphones
, that is.
Busking for Tweets
: Polly Paulusma
is a British singer-songwriter who has toured with an impressive roster of musical icons, among them Bob Dylan, Marianne Faithfull, and Coldplay. When it came time to release her new album, Leaves from the Family Tree
, she nixed more mainstream avenues of promotion in favor of a more humble approach: busking for tweets. She took her guitar to Trafalgar Square
, where she performed in front of a sign that read, "I don't want your money. Just tweet me @pollypaulusma
or like me on Facebook
." Busking for digital
currency instead of actual
currency goes to show just how valuable online clout has become.
Busking doesn't only apply to musical performance these days. Indeed, even as the novelty of food trucks seemingly wears thin
, cooking as performance art (open kitchens
are on the rise) is breaching new horizons. Roving London chef John Quilter
takes it a step further by opening himself up to the judgment of his patrons. He whips up gourmet meals with exotic ingredients (the most important being love, he claims) from a menu on which all items are technically free. If his diners like the grub, they're encouraged to pay what they think it’s worth. If they don’t, they're welcome to ignore the busking tin, no questions asked.