The Melodic: How To Succeed At Busking

From those who know...
The Melodic

Based in South London, The Melodic recently signed to Stateside label ANTI-.

Invited out to the United States, the band spent long periods on tour with some frustrating moments of downtime. Deciding to continue playing, The Melodic started busking in cities across North America.

Discovering the hard way what works and what doesn't, The Melodic agreed to pen a quick do's and don'ts guide for those who want to begin busking.

Huw Williams explains...

On our recent trip to the United States we spent some time in New York in between tours. In a bid to earn enough pocket money to eat something other than the city’s infamous dollar pizza slices I took to the subways armed with my guitar and a small battery powered amp and tried my hand busking. Despite being told "you ain’t going nowhere puppy" by one unimpressed onlooker on my first day I soon found my feet and was fine dining on the spoils in no time.

Location: finding a good spot is crucial, the subways teem with buskers of every ilk round the clock so making sure you don’t trespass on somebody else’s turf is the first challenge. I liked to go down to the platforms at Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn when the hairy hostile banjo player was elsewhere and play to the crowds waiting to get on their trains. Somewhere not too loud was preferable, so I could be heard easily above the hubbub, and a spot where the trains come regularly enough to play to a new batch of people every few minutes was ideal.

Timing: I'd set up just before the evening rush hour and play for a few hours to catch as many people heading home from work and then later to the people heading out for the evening, the drunker the crowds the more generous they tended to be but also the more irritating to deal with, no I can’t dance for you.

What to play: I tried to play as much of my own stuff as possible but it was handy to fall back on some classics when I ran out of steam, 'Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright' was a winner for me, thanks Bobby Dylan for that one. The trains are deafening when they roll in so you don’t have long to fit your song in before it gets drowned out altogether so keep it snappy.

Perseverance: Like hitchhiking, busking can be pretty demoralizing, you just can’t predict when somebody is gonna feel generous enough to dig into their pocket to reward your efforts and it can feel like a lost cause if you have to wait too long. But if you're in the right spot and you aren’t completely pants it will happen with time. I’d set myself a target of how much I wanted to earn and just keep going until I got there.

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'Effra Parade' is set to be released on March 17th. Catch The Melodic at London's XOYO on May 7th.

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