Busking For Beginners

covent garden.jpg

How can my friend and I become performers at Covent Garden Market? We have a pretty good guitar act. We need a permit, right? Do we need to audition?

Yes to both. You need to audition to get the permit. First, drop an email to info@coventgardenmarket.co.uk and ask for an application. If it seems your act might be suitable for Covent Garden Market, they will invite you to audition. If you pass the audition, you will be issued a licence. It’s hard to tell how cutthroat the process is, but considering most CGM performers are professionals –street performing is their main job– it’s clear there is a standard. People get rejected. (Some of these turn up to busk on James Street nearby, which is not managed by CGM.) Other reasons for rejection are if there are already too many acts like yours, or if you and your equipment aren’t suitable for any of the performance pitches.

There are a few more things to consider. The first is that you will not be granted a licence unless you have public indemnity insurance. This protects your audience from any accidental injuries as a result of your performance. Accidents may not be a huge risk if you’re a guitar act, but the rule applies. You need to factor that cost in. CGM can provide you with the names of insurance companies, but it is up to you to sort it out. It should also be noted that CGM does not have amps or generators for you to borrow. Same goes for unicycles and juggling pins, if you were wondering. You must bring all your own equipment.

Once granted, a licence is valid for one year, when it can be renewed. You arrange in advance the time and on which pitch you intend to perform; this is usually done by draw. There are other rules to follow as well, such as no drunkenness, props with fire, etc. Sensible stuff.

Let us know if you make it & we’ll come put a quid in your guitar case!

To get your own question answered, email asklondonist(at)gmail(dot)com

Tags: , , , , ,

  • Adrian

    And what about other spots apart from CGM, like in the streets or nearby the river? I have seen musicians busking under the London Eye, do they need license? In Barcelona {where I’m from} is much more easy to get fees than earn euros and you can even loose your instrument…
    so, that’s why I’m asking before…I feel a bit paranoid about, I am a musician not a criminal.

  • Bloodybasser420

    What advice would you give to someone who has never busked before setting up in an area that has not been a traditional busking zone, but is loaded with pedestrian traffic (6th street Austin, TX)?