Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, launched “Busk in London” with the aim to protect and encourage busking in the street. But, when you read thoroughly the “official guidelines for busking in London” they tell us another story….
What says “the Busk in London Code of Conduct”:
Performers with varied repertoire are more popular and attract fewer complaints. If you only know a few songs, move to a new location when you’ve played them.
The biggest cause of complaints is sound. Many good busking locations are surrounded by flats, shops, offices or hotel rooms. The people inside can’t walk away, so be mindful and keep your volume at a very reasonable level.
Some sounds carry over long distances and all sounds can be annoying after a while.
Some sounds can become annoying more quickly. For example: repetitive sounds like some types of percussion or beatboxing; loud sounds like highly amplified guitars; hard ‘attack’ sounds like drums; piercing sounds like bagpipes. If your act has these, move regularly or find locations with no flats, offices, shops or hotels.
If you use amplification, set your volume just above the level of background street noise and check your sound is not distorted.
Big equipment like generators is hard to haul around and can cause complaints.
Keep backing tracks unobtrusive and turn them off when you’re not performing.
If you use fixtures such as furniture, lamp-posts or railings, or you draw on the ground, please get permission beforehand and make sure nothing gets damaged.
Keep it clean! Don’t cause offence or humiliation and tidy-up after your act.
Keep it safe! Check www.buskinlondon.com for guidance if your acts involves anything risky (e.g. fire, knives, high wire, unicycle, diabolo, high juggling)
Protect yourself by getting public liability insurance if you busk regularly.”
With a certain irony, we can sum these behaviour rules by this sentence from the website: “So if you stick to the code, you shouldn’t experience any problems. Please get in touch if you need any help. Busk In London has been launched so we can help more performers to get busking!”
You can find more information about on this website “London performers” [impossible to find again the magzine online, the used link was broken… sorry about that!], an article about performers in London from Munira Mirza in the Guardian or this article from Wayne Myers in the Guardian.