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Musical performances of all kinds can be seen in many pedestrian zones and are a joy for both young and old. These acts come from a wide variety of instruments, too. Performances of violins, guitars, and accordions, or even singers and bands can be found on the streets of this world. But can street music be more than just a simple performance? Can it be used as a basis for initial success in the music industry? That's exactly what we're going to answer for you in this article.
As already mentioned, street music is very popular all over the world and also in many parts of Germany. It makes the shopping experience livelier for passers-by, spreads joy, and fills the streets with sound. Correspondingly, bands, musical groups and solo artists try their hand at the streets and market themselves on site. Unbiased praise and criticism are combined with completely voluntary donations (often into a hat or guitar case), which also make street music attractive for young and new musicians. The following instruments in particular are very popular with street musicians and are often used:
Many musicians use the street to gain experience, especially in the early days of their careers, and in hopes of attracting supporters. Bands and solo artists who are experienced on the stage also like to use street music, for example, if they have no stage performance for a long time, or if they want to try out new material on a random audience. Hardly any other place offers access to more musical styles and a well-mixed audience than the lively areas of the street.
Many musicians can look forward to donations and honest praise while playing street music, and they are encouraged by precisely those incentives. The voluntary donations are one of the most important ways to support these artists in their work. CD sales are also often the focus when groups perform together on the street. But it is not always easy to appear on the street right from the start:
As in every industry, there are some requirements to be observed in the field of street music before you take your instruments on the street. However, since there is currently no uniform legal basis for street music—each city decides for itself. We have therefore clearly summarized the most important rules for the largest cities in Germany for you:
A look at the numerous rules shows that street music is treated differently in every city. Anyone planning to use it to build up an extra income or possibly be discovered should include this in their decision. However, discoveries from other countries show that great talents can be right under your nose on the streets. One of these musicians is Mike Rosenberg, who literally made it from the street to the big stages.
With his world-famous song “Let Her Go” he made a name for himself on the street and later in the music business. Street music made him better known and significantly boosted his CD sales. The musician from Great Britain, now known as “Passenger,” still performs on the streets to get direct feedback and to always remember the origin of his success. Right here you can listen to the hit song “Let Her Go” for yourself to get a feel for the impressive music of Passenger.
Ed Sheeran experienced a similar trajectory. When he was only 14 he moved to London to devote himself fully to his music. He wandered through the streets with his guitar, recorded his own songs and played his way up to the small clubs in town. His musical contributions were shared with increasing frequency, especially on social media, which gave him his breakthrough. Songs like “I See Fire” are hits to this day.
Nevertheless, it has to be said that very few musicians successfully make the jump from the street to the charts. For many street artists, the street is just a good introduction to further improving and collecting direct feedback. Much more effective are appearances as a support or opening act at big concerts or one’s own small events that go beyond the small scope of a street gig. Festivals are also an excellent first big stage experience, and you can often apply to them as a newcomer band. At this point we would like to recommend you our experience report on the Together Kiel Festival, which you can read here.
If you want to market yourself and your music even better, you should definitely give street music a try. It shows you at first glance which target group you are addressing and which feelings your music can trigger. In order to be able to make a living from your passion in the long term, however, you’re going to need marketing that reaches much further. This can be achieved nowadays, for example, through social media, with which you can build a significant reach. One advantage of social media is that you can sidestep the rules and regulations that accompany street performance. Another advantage is the massive social media community backing you. In addition, most social media can be used completely free of charge, which means that the marketing effort is significantly lower. We'll tell you more about that topic in our posts on music marketing on TikTok or on Instagram.
It is very difficult to say in advance whether street music is worthwhile from a financial point of view. Financial success on the street depends above all on your location and the generosity of your on-site audience. With the addition of CD sales you not only generate an income, but also draw attention to other songs and yourself. This increases your chance of building a fan base and appearing successfully later on.
To test new songs, to see how you are received by your target group and to increase your self-confidence during a live performance, street music is always worthwhile. For many musicians, they’re not doing it for the money, but for contact with listeners, like-minded people, and music lovers.
Before you even start street music, you should keep a close eye on the rules and requirements in your city. This protects you from legal disputes and ensures that you can fully focus on your songs during the street music. If you would like to make new contacts from the music world yourself or if you would like to exchange ideas with other musicians about street music, you are at the right place here at mukken.
Originally published on January 15, 2022, updated on January 15, 2022