[Note: If you haven’t read the other blogs below, you may like to start with ‘The Great Aussie Outback Busk’ so you’re up to speed with the story so far.]
The outback busk-about continues as I adjust back into town life once more… and I couldn’t ask for a better place to transform from outback wanderer to street wise busker … Australia’s heartland and lively centre – Alice Springs, one of the most ancient regions on earth as far as ecology and culture is concerned, yet most people don’t ever hear it described this way.
With busking on my mind and fingers itching to strum, one of the first things I do when I arrive in a new city or town, as I’m wandering around sightseeing, is take note of where (and most importantly – when) street performers do their thing. The common places are usually tourist attractions, city parks, promenades, and inner city / cbd (central business district) pedestrian strips. In this case, Todd Street mall was the place for street music.
Now, thanks to modern technology and my best mate – google, I had a heads up on this info. Before I left home on this trip I googled ‘busking in Alice Springs’ and “wah-lah”, in less than a minute I discovered that the Todd Street mall is the main place for street performance. At the same time, the google search results revealed that busking permits were required, so I contacted the Alice Springs Town Council and asked what was needed to officially busk in the Todd street mall. The clerk was obviously excited to be talking to a musician rather than shuffling tedious council paperwork and happily answered my questions, providing me with all the important info I wanted, plus more. He emailed me the permit straight away and was quick to let me know that the council was encouraging street performers because they wanted to attract more tourists into that area. The permit took me less than 5 minutes to fill out and send back to him. Best of all, it was free. So now I’m feeling good that I’ve done the right thing; my ass is covered should anyone object to me busking in their city and what’s more… I’m feeling far more confident now that I know so much about the place, the people, the laws and authorities and their attitudes to art and culture, etc, etc.
I find that many street performers are quick to postpone their busking aspirations or don’t venture into new territory due to what they think maybe a complicated process to obtaining permits and licenses. But as you’ve just discovered, often it is such a simple process and could end up providing a wealth of information. Now, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again and again… in this particular vocation, I can assure you from my own personal experiences, being armed with all the right info is one of the most invaluable confidence boosters you’ll ever find.
Back to Alice Springs and the Todd Street mall… after chatting with the locals in stores or with staff during a few cappuccino stops (which will now become a tax deduction), I found out that most if not ALL buskers perform in front of a very busy alfresco cafe first thing in the morning. This is where the tourists come for breakfast. The etiquette rules are ‘first in best dressed’. Now this is where my rebellious nature kicks in and why my system has been so successful. I do the opposite to what other street performers are doing. I decided to perform in the mid afternoon, at the other end of the mall near a bank ATM, music shop, 3 alfresco cafe restaurants and not far from the entrance to a busy multi level shopping centre.
Interestingly, I made a motza! (Aussie slang for ‘lots of’ or ‘I made a killing’!) and I could have finished in a couple of hours, but time passed quickly as I enjoyed blasting away the vocal cobwebs that had built up over the last week. I drew a crowd by playing some songs that related to the area; I practised a few new songs to test out audience response, played a few covers as well as played all my own favourites, chatted to the crowd and even shot some video footage www.youtube.com/johnniemac My lady went shopping and my kids danced and played around me and made new friends with the pedestrians who stopped to talk.
Most importantly the tourists, locals and especially the Aboriginal people (who were always the first to drop money in my case) loved the new entertainment.
I left that place positively buzzing, with a bounce in my step. Another successful day at the office! …No competition, no stress and no objections from the police, who happened to drive by and authoritatively inspect my set-up as I was shooting a busking info video inbetween songs. I nodded confidently and gestured towards the official permit which was displayed in my case… they kept on driving!
And in a few hours, so will I… onto the next port of call… north to the tropical heat for more fun, relaxation, adventure and of course, busker inspiration. Watch this space!
Cheers from a town called Alice
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- The Great Aussie Outback Busk!
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Johnnie Mac is a world class, professional, leading street performer, turned celebrated musician. He is the only Aussie Professional Busker who provides a fast, reliable and sure-fire Busking System that can transform any busker into a well paid and highly acclaimed entertainer enjoying a remarkably exciting lifestyle. To discover 101 Essential Tips to Have More Fun and Earn More Money Busking visit http://www.BuskerWorld.com/theBuskersBible