Busking - playing for tips on the street

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Alex_C, Jun 5, 2010.

  1. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

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    Alex and Ed, and others who have been down and out or who are currently, I hear you. Being able to play music is one of the greatest gifts God can give us. Just for the joy of playing, I rejoice! That sentiment, put through a horn, will please anyone.

    Your frustration is palpable, Ed. I hope you are soon back to playing.

    asher
     
  2. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    The answer to #1 is the Courts, in response to the complaint. In general, an arrangement is a "derivation" of the original work.

    IMO #2 may not be so high a percentage as you guess, but I'm not saying there aren't violations. Then, the question arises, "Who is liable?" The band is hired to perform songs selected by the wedding couple in a restricted and one time venue. I've performed in a band for the wedding of the daughter of a U.S. District Court Judge, and by golly, the Judge provided the single performance copyright license granted for our performance of all the songs his daughter requested. Another time, I was the band manager and advised the daughter's family of such, and that the copyright fee would be included in our costs for performance. This was agreed and such was rendered to the bride's father before we played. It's just an overhead cost and expense of doing good and successful business, and a tax deduction here in the U.S.

    As for #3, just hope that a lawyer or investigator for the Harry Fox Agency, as are the exclusive agents of ASCAP, are not invited guests to the wedding as the band would be named as co-respondents along with the the bridal couple in ASCAP's complaint, noting again that ASCAP only represents it's members.

    COMMENT: When you present copyright licensing to a client ... you SELL to an upscale clientele ... and you EARN more with the respect of your abilities to perform. Only once, it happened ... we were overpaid and when I contacted the client was told that such included a gratuity which we had earned. Thinking back, making music at a wedding is much easier than and less stressful and rewarding than providing the photography which I otherwise once did.

    As addendum, during my comeback, I played a solo with organ accompaniment of the Wedding Processional from The Sound of Music.
    It was up in the air whether I could have taken a religious service exclusion, but to be on the safe side I acquired the performance license at my own expense as I was a close friend of the groom. They had a DJ for the reception ... not my problem ... my wife and I didn't stay for the dancing although invited ... as I was then in pain and walker bound.

    Y'all can read U.S. Copyright law here on internet and do as you want and I don't really care if you don't obey it as the consequences you will incur if only that you don't optimize your success.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2010
  3. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    Thanks for your concern! Last night I broached the probability of liqudating my horns with my wife. The tirade she put forth against my doing so almost got me banned from our bed.

    Pass it on ... I'll have surgery Monday June 21st, a procedure of aortic angiogram / angioplasty feeding left venticle of my heart. My wife's comment is that I'm too stoic in my approach of such trauma. My reply is, "What alternative do I have?" She didn't suggest any ! My Docs don't either. Durn, why can't I have my dental / oral surgery done at same time?
     
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  4. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

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    I found out that a local coffee shop is available for musicians to play in, they have to arrange with the evil old bag who owns it first of course, but players can bring a tip jar and sell their CDs etc. Unfortunately, hardly anyone goes in there, but hey, it's a place to play. Another coffee shop in Morgan Hill has live music but they have very strange hours and I mean, STRANGE. Like, they're open maybe one hour a day and it's always a different hour. But there *are* places around here.

    A piano repair guy I know was playing on a piano he has up near the front in an antique store I sometimes hang out in, he has a piano repair shop in back. So, he was playing along, and I said, "I'll help" and went and got this Boy Scout bugle from one of the booths, and started tooting along. At least it seemed to be in the same key. It was silly because you can't be all that musical on a bugle, and when the piano guy was done, I said, "That sounded pretty good" because he's a good player, good enough to play in bars. Well, he said I sounded pretty good! I said "Can't be", and he said "You should have heard some of the drunks I've had to play with" LOL. This makes me want to work hard to sound REALLY musical.

    I'm in the process of selling off a bunch of stuff so I can live on as little as possible for a while and put my energy into practice. If I can sound at least so-so right off, I can start playing around at places. If I can get up to speed enough to play good Christmas carols when that season comes around, I'll possibly do very well. Last year, averaged out, my income was $10 a day and I worked my butt off! And I had to commute 100 miles every work day. I'm hoping I may be able to improve on that this year, and keep my work within bicycle range, since I've sold the motorcycle too.

    Me and F- the piano guy, playing stuff together, now that would be cool.
     
  5. kctrumpeteer

    kctrumpeteer Piano User

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    Interesting topic as I thought it might be fun to try 'busking' didn't know it was even called that. My fears would be less of copyright issues and more of getting mugged on the street where worse case scenario you lose a $3k+ trumpet trying to make $10 or simply someone decides to run off with the change / cash. What are you going to do, run down the street with a trumpet in one hand? :-P

    I suppose someone that was really good would be able to take requests from the crowd and play whatever. e.g. in Mexico on a trip and a Mariachi band played and took requests. Getting very sick of La Bamba over and over again, I suggested some Herb Albert and tijuana brass and they obliged. But they were professionals. And sounded great.

    I picked up a real Bb book a week or two ago which is basically an officially licensed 'fake' book which has lots of popular songs in it. I suppose if you learn the songs in there it would be good for performing on the street and not sure how copyright laws would work because it isn't the actual work per say, but transcribed from other musicans and then licensed for purchase.

    For someone to start off and just experiment i.e. say learn 5-6 songs, any suggestions on what specific to work on? I think it could be a fun learning experience because you could go out and play and then people would probably yell out ... hey play "this music" and then you could know, next time learn that song if you don't know it. Then over time you would probably have most of the popular requests worked on and down pat ready to test out. But in the end, who wants to spend that much effort on playing on the street?
     
  6. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

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    I'd not take an expensive trumpet out there.

    As for being mugged for the money in the case, it happens, rarely, but it does happen. You'd have to just not play in areas where that could happen.

    I think to be a good busker, one would have to know a lot of popular stuff, almost like a mockingbird, be able to pick up anything - let's just say that there are a lot of buskers, and a few good ones.

    Quite a few good musicians got their start busking, Stephane Grappelli, the violinist, comes to mind right now.
     
  7. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    Reiterating what I've stated before, one can purchase all the sheet music and or CDs you want and play such for your own use, but you CANNOT lawfully play them in public without having a copyright license for such as are copyrighted. Real books are just "derivations" of the original as the law reads.

    Absolutely, for busking to be profitable it is LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION and I'll also add TIME, TIME, TIME. Too, it is more the quality of your playing moreso than what you are playing that produces the lucre.
    There's millions of songs in the public domain that are fantastic. I cannot help that many think Polovetsian Dance by Alexander Borodin is Strangers In Paradise from the Broadway production of Kismet, or that Glow Worm by Paul Lincke is the 50s Mills Bros popular song. The "tin pan alley" composers borrowed lots of their popullar melodies from the classics, yeah, even Elvis Prestley's Love Me Tender is a lift of 'Aura Lee.

    As a former LEO, I cannot set aside the propensity of a "snatch and run" of anything that may be deemed valuable to the theif. However an open trumpet case deters a heavy coin snatch and what you're holding in your hand is likewise, still I'd not be playing any 3K instrument (simply because I can't afford to acquire one).

    Yeah, I agree the Mariachi bands that stroll the plazas in Mexico are "top notch" and moreso are encouraged, the latter unlike the U.S. I'm still to ponder how they are paid, but I'm of the opinion that these are also known to play in the surrounding establishments and are out there doing PR to attract customers to these, what I've called "hocking" as in the "speil" of a circus ring master or your TV ad car dealer. In Mexico when one hears no music trouble is near ... personal experience ... TG I'm still alive.
     
  8. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

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    That's right "Aura Lee" isn't copyrighted is it? Lots of great tunes aren't.
     
  9. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    I wouldn't have mentioned it, if it's copyright hadn't expired ... and I was drawn to it only to send my rendition of it to my niece who's maiden name was Laura Lee. The original music had had the apostophe to indicate the missing "L" as is common in lyrics, mostly to skip a syllable and fit words to notes. Yeah, with enough research one could fill a whole day of playing old songs that may seem like current ones ... and often better music IMO.
    One would think Stephen Foster's better known songs would get the rave revues for a busker, but they didn't for me, the best of his that did was Boy's! Carry Me 'Long, that I played in Point Park, Pittsburgh PA on a spring Saturday when I was a sophmore in HS on a French horn. (the Point Park was a redone attraction then). It was considered a saloon buzzer in the 1850s. Follow that with Jacque Offenbach's Can Can from Orpheus In The Underground, the same source for the music of the USMC hymn. Well, in Pittsburgh Foster's Soiree Polka would have done well also. It would be a dud here in this town ... well, almost any of my repertoire would ... this is a country, blue grass, and gospel area ... but I can count the pedestrian traffic for a whole day (12 hours) on one hand without using my thumb, excluding prisoners being taken to and from Court by their guards.

    My point, work days and real hot or cold days just don't get the cash busking. People hurry to get inside for the AC or warmth. I did mention that Stephen Foster was from Lawrenceville PA and his Memorial / Museum is on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Before my dental and health issues, I was unable to finish my CD tribute to Foster but when I'm able again I will.
     
  10. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

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    Hey Ed,

    Can you clear up a point I'm confused about regarding copyright laws?

    It's where you say, "... you can't lawfully play them in public."

    What if you're just playing in the park or somewhere else outside, but your case isn't open and it's obvious you are just playing for fun and you're not busking (a Canadian term, I think).

    For example, there's a co-op store here that has a very nice place for people to sit and gather outside, with great acoustics and little traffic noise, but the store won't let you play with your case open. They don't mind if the case is closed and you sound good, and they then don't feel that you are busking.

    Would you be violating these laws in a situation like this?

    btw ... I've only busked with a guitar and a heavy, hardshell case, that ought to prevent anyone from trying to run off with it. It's just too heavy. And Ed's RIGHT .... LOCATION AND TIME are essential. Why would you want to be out busking in a place and at a time where you'd worry about getting mugged?

    And I'm not likely to take my trumpet on the street any time soon .... I'm just a beginner. I can't imagine anyone out there wants to hear long tones and simple trumpet scales.

    Turtle
     

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