We talk to professional busker Annie Chambers and her partner Colin Callanan about their experiences busking to finance their travels. They’re also super-generous and play for us!
Annie’s been playing the harp since she was young, and makes her living from busking in her home country of Ireland. She successfully takes her skills with her when she travels, which means she doesn’t have to save up before taking to the road. Her partner Colin has a day job, but joins Annie in busking when they’re travelling.
Busking to finance travel isn’t for everyone, but if you’re interested in this option there are a few things you can do to help your chances.
Interesting instruments are a good choice
Annie and Colin play the harp and the mandolin, which means that they get more attention and therefore more money in the case. A lot of people play the guitar, which is fine, but it doesn’t have the wow factor odder instruments will attract.
Just do it
Annie usually does a bit of research to see if a licence is required to busk in her destination, but as this information can be hard to find, she isn’t scared to just show up and start playing. She says someone will let you know if you’re not allowed to play where you’ve set up.
Keep an eye on the weather
Weather is a very important factor when it comes to busking: bad weather means fewer passersby. Choosing destinations with good weather can be a good strategy — though Annie also notes that both Ireland and Scotland (famous for bad weather) are lucrative busking destinations.
Practice at home
If you’ve never busked before, you might not get the reception you expect when you try it for the first time. Head out in your home city to practice, and make sure to inject a bit of personality into your act.
If you like Annie’s music you can buy her CD for just €15. Contact her on [email protected].
Also in this show…
We talk about our recent travels in Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand, play some sounds from the Petaling Street market in Kuala Lumpur, and talk about our love affair with sporks.