Who You Callin’ a Street Performer? – Everything You Need to Know About Busking Legality and Credentials


In a recent article I wrote, I asked the question of who you callin’ a street performer? As a follow up article to that, I want to talk about credentials and legality. What are the differences between these two types of performers?

A street performer is anyone making art or performing on the streets for an audience. These performances are typically without compensation from the audience but may involve passing the hat or asking for donations.

These two kinds of performers come with two very different sets of laws and regulations. A street performer is not regulated and does not need to have any kind of license to perform. However, a busker does need to have a license and is subject to numerous regulations.

Let’s start with street performers because this category will include most people reading this article. If you are creating art in public space and you do so non-commercially (i.e., don’t charge money), then you are a street performer and you can do whatever you want! No license required, no rules to follow, no fees to pay! Just do your thing!

Buskers are different however. Buskers create art commercially in public space and must typically abide by numerous rules and regulations (depending on what city they live in).

While the term “street performer” brings to mind a specific image, in reality, the world of street performing is a wide and varied one. Street performers can be found in any major city around the world. They are often referred to as “buskers”, from the Spanish word “buscar” which means “to seek” or “to look for”. For many buskers, their art is how they make their living.

Busking can encompass a wide variety of performance arts. There are musicians and dancers, painters and poets, jugglers and acrobats. The only thing that unites all street performers is that they perform for an audience in a public space.

Legal Issues Surrounding Busking: Credentials and Legality

Street performances are considered legal expressions of free speech in many cities around the world. It is not uncommon for some cities to require permits or licenses for buskers. This helps ensure that performers do not end up overcrowding certain locations or blocking pedestrian traffic. A few cities even have dedicated areas set aside for buskers to perform at no cost.

Some cities may also limit busking hours or force performers to keep moving throughout their performances, but these restrictions are

A lot of people out there who perform on the street use the term “busker”, but not all street performers are buskers. Busking means to entertain in public in order to earn money. It’s an ancient tradition, but one that is still very much alive today, especially at music festivals and fairs. Traditional buskers might be jugglers, magicians, mimes, comedians and other performers who provide light entertainment. But some busking is more serious: a street musician playing for tips with a hat or guitar case open on the sidewalk is also considered a busker.

Street performers, on the other hand, don’t always perform in order to earn money: they may be trying to get noticed by talent scouts or simply to raise awareness of their art form. The term “street performer” is therefore a broader category than “busker”, which refers only to people who perform for tips on the street.

Performers in general need credentials. As a professional performer there are certain things you need in order to secure your position as a performer legally and professionally. Let’s break down some of these must-haves for performer credentials:

There are many types of street performers and the rules apply differently to each one. Street artists include musicians, jugglers, fire dancers, and more. They have an amazing skill, but can they make a living by performing on the streets?

Let’s explore how to become a street performer and what type of skills you need for this type of career.

Buskers: A busker is a street performer who uses their talent as a form of entertainment for people. They usually collect money from the crowd in a hat or basket as they perform.

Street artists: Street artists are typically painters who want to display their work to the public. Like other street performers, they usually collect money from those watching them work through tips.

Sidewalk chalk artists: Sidewalk chalk artists use sidewalk chalk to draw or paint on the pavement for entertainment purposes. They often try to raise awareness about social issues through their art, too.

Street dancers: Street dancers entertain crowds with amazing dance moves that are often acrobatic in nature. Like other street performers, they may pass around a hat or ask for tips at the end of their performance.

There are a few people who are on the fence about street performers and what they do, but I think we all know that these artists are just trying to make their living and we should support them. As far as I’m concerned, they are way too talented not to be given the recognition they deserve.

So this week I wanted to focus on the buskers of the world. These people do more than stand on a street corner and play music or juggle; they often play instruments that most of us have never seen and could never imagine how to play them (I’ll talk about some of these cool instruments later in this post.)

Many people don’t even consider buskers actual performers, but I think those people would change their minds if they saw these videos. It takes an awful lot of talent to be able to perform for an audience with no stage or sound system or anything like that.

The question of whether or not what you do is “really” street performing is a recurring one that comes up occasionally in this blog. While the designation may seem vague, there are some characteristics that most street performers share and I’d like to share my thoughts on these basic requirements.

Let me start off by saying that I don’t think it really matters if you consider yourself a “street performer” or not. You can call yourself whatever you want and if you enjoy what you do, then keep on doing it! However, there are certain people who prefer to know exactly how their hobby fits into the greater scheme of things, so for those people, here is my opinion on the matter:

The main thing that separates street performance from other forms of entertainment is the lack of an audience that seeks out the performer to be entertained. Most street performers simply set up their act wherever people happen to be passing by and engage them in brief interactions. In contrast, busking shows performed in a public place but with an established audience (e.g., at a festival) have some similarities to street performance but are not the same thing.

Another way of looking at this issue is to say that where street performance happens spontaneously and organically (

While many cities allow street performers to perform without a permit, in some cities, like New York, street performers are required to have a permit.

This is the case for specific areas of the city or parks where street performances are common. You can usually find information about these areas on the city’s website or government site.

A New York City Parks Department Permit is required for all amplified sound and/or musical performances on designated park lands that require a fee or donation from patrons or solicits donations from passersby. Permits are also required for performances which use props.

Note that there are rules established by the Parks Department regarding the hours of operation, maximum decibel levels and other restrictions on amplified sound. In addition, use of props must be approved by the Parks Department and include the following:

– Theatrical productions which includes any play, ballet, opera or musical production.

– Music performances with instruments such as drums and electric guitars that require amplification in order to be heard.

– Dances including hip hop dancing, break dancing and other forms of dance that require amplification in order to be audible and/or visible to a large number of people.


Leave a Reply

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