Musical Street Performers and the Law


This blog will attempt to answer the following questions:

What are the laws that govern street performing?

How does the law define street performing?

How does the law apply to a particular situation, including a specific locality or city?

What are the rights of street performers?

What are the legal rights of citizens to congregate and listen to street performers?

Are there any special “rights” given to street performers, such as free use of public spaces?

Is there a difference between city-owned property and privately owned property in regard to street performing rules and regulations?

I will also be providing information about how people can get involved in this very exciting and rewarding activity. I will also offer some advice on how to be successful at it. I will also try to provide some resources for those who need them.

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” –William Shakespeare.

“Street performers welcome.” –Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The streets of New York City have been home to musical street performers for centuries, a performance art that has evolved into a multisensory experience in today’s multimedia world. Brass bands and drummers can be found in every borough, playing everything from Duke Ellington to The Beatles. And though the performers can be found in all types of weather, it is in the summer months when they are most visible.

However, because the music can sometimes be loud and disruptive to those in close proximity, New York City has laws regulating street performances that musicians should be aware of before hauling their equipment on the subway or bus for an afternoon of street performing.

In order to understand how musicians can get a street performing license, we need to take a closer look at the law. The most important laws relevant to street performing are the following:

Street performers have a right to freedom of expression.

No one can play music in public without a permit.

These two laws may seem contradictory, but they’re not. You see, the second law is designed to protect the rights of everyone, including street performers. And that’s why you need a street performing license.

So let’s look at what these laws mean in practice.

On October 1, 2013, New York City’s Parks Department relaunched the Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP). The PEP officers have the power to write tickets for “quality of life” offenses, such as panhandling and playing music without a permit.

If you play an instrument on the street, you are likely to get stopped and asked where your permit is. If you don’t have one, you’re going to get issued a ticket. And if they don’t like what they hear out of you, they could even make an arrest.

Most people don’t know that there is a musical instrument permit for street performing.

The law states that no person shall play any musical instrument in any park or public place unless authorized by permit from the Commissioner of Parks or his designated representative. The penalty for playing music without a permit is six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.

In order to apply for a permit to play music on the streets of New York City, you must attend an audition with the Department of Parks and Recreation and pass their test with a score of at least 80%.

In many cities, performing on the street is illegal. It’s a crime punishable by fines or jail time. But that doesn’t stop people from doing it. In fact, in some places, entire organizations have formed to fight for the rights of people who want to play music on the street. They have managed to get laws passed that actually make street performing legal!

While most places don’t ban public performances, there are still rules and laws that must be followed. Musicians can still get fined for playing in certain areas or at certain times, even if it isn’t technically illegal. That’s why it’s so important for musicians to know the rules about where and when they can play.

Each city has different rules regarding street performing. Some of them are written down and others are enforced anyway (even though they’re not technically laws). But in most places, you’ll need to follow these guidelines:

– Don’t play too loudly

– Don’t block sidewalks or other public spaces

– Don’t play near schools, churches or government buildings

– Don’t play with amplification inside buildings (especially shopping malls)

Before you start busking anywhere, make sure you know what the rules are in your area!

A brass band, who did not have a license to play, was served with a cease and desist order by the city, who claimed that the band was performing for “donations” and therefore “doing business” in the park. The brass band went to court in an attempt to get a ruling from a judge.

The judge ruled that all donations are considered gifts, and therefore no business is being conducted. Thus, because there is no business being conducted, no license is required.

This is good news for brass bands, but it does not mean that all musicians can play freely in parks around town. As with most laws concerning street performers and musicians, there are exceptions to each rule. For example, if you are on private property or if you are using amplification equipment, you may need a permit to perform (in addition to other rules and regulations).

It’s a beautiful day in New York City. You’re walking down the street when you hear some music coming from a nearby corner. It sounds great, and you stop to listen. A crowd gathers around the band, and they put on an impromptu concert right there in the middle of the street.

What would you think if it turned out that the band was really just a promotional stunt for a music school? Some people wouldn’t care: it’s still a free concert, after all. Others might be very angry: “They lied to me! They didn’t tell me they were promoting their business! I wouldn’t have stopped if I knew that!”

Now imagine that instead of playing music, the guys on the corner had been holding up signs saying “I WANT A JOB.” Would you still be mad? Probably not. You’d understand that this is just how things work in New York: if you want to get people to notice you, you have to do something unique and unexpected. And if someone does notice, then your goal isn’t to get them to hire you; it’s just to get them to notice you in the first place, so that maybe they’ll mention you to someone else who can actually hire you.

A brass band looking for


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *