Busking laws

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by MSfortissimo, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. MSfortissimo

    MSfortissimo Pianissimo User

    Jul 13, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    I'm planning to spend the weekend busking with a friend, I had wanted to set up in the sidewalk outside of a busy coffee shop in my area or a nearby park but i'm worried about legality.. I'm specifically talking about the Campbell/San Jose CA area.

  2. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    I asked about that once to a musician who playing violin (electrified, with amp and pedals) on the sidewalk near a pretty busy department store in Portland. He said that he didn't really know about it. His policy was to use common sense: a good location with a lot of traffic, not too close to any other busker, not too close to the store's entrance, loud enough to be heard but no more. His take was that, as long as nobody, especially police, asked him to leave, then he was probably not doing anything wrong.
  3. BrassEye

    BrassEye Pianissimo User

    Sep 9, 2011
    You could just ask the authorities...
  4. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    Or you could ask other buskers or just go for it. Like the violin player, common sense rules ... and will probably keep everyone happy. Just be advised, some small towns (like mine) will sometimes put a photo of a busker on the front page to illustrate a newspaper story on homelessness.:dontknow:

  5. Sam Watkins

    Sam Watkins New Friend

    Jan 18, 2011
    So long as it is a public place, you should be covered by the 1st Amendment. Volume level almost certainly falls under a municipal ordinance. Some police may feel they are protecting business owners by running performers off. I wish the local business owner's group would encourage it in the area I work.
  6. BustedChops

    BustedChops Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 1, 2011
    Just do it...and don't flaunt the idea of collecting money. If your just playing for fun there isn't much that can happen. If the coffee shop asks you to leave move across the street and blast the patrons from the other side :)

    I play my trumpet in a local movie theater hallway that has the most amazing lively reverb you ever heard. The manager of the theater told me it's fine if I play but not to play while movies are in progress...I play at night and there is rarely a problem.

    Have fun. The police are not going to book you unless you are outright mean and rude.
  7. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    One of the most successful buskers I've seen in this town was a University student of Music. He told me that he simply does his practicing (classical guitar) on the street to help pay for college. He was doing his normal exercises, songs, etc. off a music stand. He even had a foot stool like classical guitarists do. He sounded really good going through his stuff, and he got his college paid for.

    I was always terrible at it, though I did make some serious money at times. The guy above told me that in his opinion, it doesn't really matter how you sound, generally, a lot of people walk by quickly, can't really hear you anyway over the traffic and if you look nice, you make money anyway.:lol:

  8. amzi

    amzi Forte User

    Feb 18, 2010
    Northern California
    Just a couple of thoughts on the issue. The San Jose police department is so understaffed it is unlikely they will take notice of you, even if someone calls to complain. If they do take notice of you assume they're going to ask you to leave so act accordingly and you probably won't even get a ticket. Street crime is at an all time high in San Jose--I would say that you're more likely to be hassled by a street gang than than the police. At least this is my take based on information from my son-in-law who works for the City of San Jose--don't want to say which department.
  9. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    My three penny answer is it depends when, where and how and what you play. The walkways near the entrances to stores or malls beyond a parking lot are not suggested for such is normally private property and the managers almost at their option can toss you with trespass violation. Beware that some jurisdictions wherever you are in public space consider such as a panhandling violation if you are soliciting money for your performance. It may be that no signage, no spoken request, and an open instrument case will circumvent this last, but I'm not saying it will for certain, though it did great for me the only time I busked. I can say it helps to feed your "collector" with about $3.00 in various coins above pennies albeit a few pennies are nice too, and at least one bill of any denomination. Sundown and you're packed up an headed for your digs.
  10. homebilly

    homebilly Pianissimo User

    Dec 29, 2010
    Los Angeles & Paris, Fran
    just learn Stairway to Heaven and you should be OK!

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