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Old 09-20-2009, 10:18 AM
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Pollyanna Pollyanna is offline
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Default Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

A few of us in the band are keen to do some busking but I have come across some bueaucratic roadblocks that have blown my mind.

It seems that you need a busking licence in any particular local government area at $40 per year. Each individual band member must have a licence.

Sydney has 40 local councils so, that means for a 5-piece band to be permitted to entertain the public for free (or a voluntary donation) in Sydney they would have to pay $8000 per year for the privilege.

Further, in some areas, you need to attend an audition to get a licence. Ok, we don't want pretenders assaulting our ears (never mind the bagpipe players who passed muster who I could hear clear as day from my 22nd floor office). However, you are allowed to sit on the street and beg money from passing strangers but not provide music for them without red tape, inconvenience and expense. You are allowed to annoy passersby on behalf of a crackpot religion or some other cause. Just don't play music.

Wait, but there's more ... this from a council info sheet:
What Happens If I Want to Busk More Than Ten (10) Times a Year?

You will not be covered under Councilís insurance. You must obtain public liability insurance cover from a third party to the value of $10 million, fill in the application and submit it to Council to be assessed.
I think this is beyond the pale IMO and guarantees Sydney's continuing slide into a soulless backwater that touts itself as an "international city" (that's the official blurb). This is the city where the live music was destroyed when the government allowed gaming machines to take over the bar scene.

Yeah, come to Sydney and look at the bridge and opera house, go to a crowded beach (with costly parking), eat some nice food and drink some nice coffee (often in areas with costly parking). That's about it. The cultural scene here is abysmal and sliding backwards - it's all about sport and making money. New Orleans may have hurricanes, but at least I hear the place has a soul.

Is the busking situation as crazy in other areas of the world or does your area actually value culture?

PS. No, I don't work for Tourism Australia :)
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Old 09-20-2009, 02:45 PM
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Pocket-full-of-gold Pocket-full-of-gold is offline
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

Love this post!! I got a giggle out of the absurdity. It's the same south of the border Pollyanna. Particularly agree with your comments regarding the diminishing live music scene. The dreaded slot machine has overrun many a live room here too!! Sad for punters, sad for musicians, sad for anyone but gaming operators I guess. At times, "soulless backwater" is hard to argue with.
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Old 09-20-2009, 03:20 PM
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

Polly, and here I was, all excited about showing up in Sydney someday and you buying me beer at that cool blues bar with the hip drummer !!!

i do empathize however..

i have never really busked except once unintentionally while sitting jamming with my friend, a pair of acoustic guitars, one afternoon in Washington Square Park , NYC, where we weren't really busking but people unloaded about $ 275 in our guitar cases anyway.

woah, aaaaah, gee, thanks!!

Not sure about the laws governing this stuff, but I guess the state needs to keep some control over what happens on their streets, why, and for how long, while considering a myriad different points of view, but to suffocate creativity and to put a lid on spontaneous art, music, dance, as a part of people's daily lives, is a crime against humanity, in my view.

Theres lots of street music in NYC, Paris, Capetown,... not enough in London & DC.. just my personal impressions from my travels.

Paris wins my vote on the city that truly belongs to the artist.




...

Last edited by aydee; 09-21-2009 at 05:33 AM.
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Old 09-20-2009, 04:03 PM
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Pollyanna Pollyanna is offline
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

That's sad, Pocket. I stayed with a friend down in Melbourne 5 or 6 yrs ago and loved the place. It seemed so sensible - you could actually drink a wine in a cafe like a grownup and there seemed to be bands playing at pubs all over the place. I can't believe that you guys made the same mistake as we did. The weather may be pretty ordinary (which is why I'm here) but I liked to think of Melbourne as our cultural mecca, a place to go if the banality of Sydney annoyed me too much *sigh*

Aydee, please feel free to come over to buy me a beer :) I know some places that serve good coffee, too. Newtown is not far from my place and it's at least one part of Sydney that's alive (and I'll make a note to chat with buskers when I'm next there and see how they deal with the bureaucracy).

I agree that the state needs to maintain some semblence of control. My problem is with the $40 p.a. charged by every local government area, rather than having city-wide (or at least fairly broad) coverage.

Pay for one busking licence per band member? Sure thing. Happy to audition. Happy to make one visit, fill in the forms, hand over the cash. But having to go through the rigmarole and expense again to play just five kilometres further afield because it falls in another council's boundaries? Insurance for $10 million?

I don't think so.

$10 mill??? Just because no one thought to create a legal exemption for buskers? Is it so hard to create a law so buskers play at their own risk and designate the council's role as being all care, no responsibility?

I don't think so. Why should artists be forced to agitate politically due to poor lawmaking? I mean, you don't have to be Einstein to see how current arrangement will inevitably stifle a city's vibrancy and, therefore, liveability. I guess they're afraid that headbangers will start busking and freak out the ageing populace. Then be choosy at auditions. This ain't brain surgery.

Or maybe they just want us to be good little automatons and fit neatly into our little square holes? The attitude strikes me as childish in it's lack of understanding of human nature. It makes me want to be childish right back at them - get one licence and play where I like (and lecture any council guy who wants to make an issue of it until he flees out of sheer boredom :)

** end of rant #2*

Last edited by Pollyanna; 09-20-2009 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 09-20-2009, 04:47 PM
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

Seems to me it would be cheaper to pay any fines that may occur if you were caught without a permit.
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Old 09-20-2009, 04:55 PM
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

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Originally Posted by Pollyanna View Post
..Or maybe they just want us to be good little automatons and fit neatly into our little square holes?
The easiest life forms to administer, manage, control.Its painless. Any government. Any country. Any era. They love us Gulimatons.
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Old 09-20-2009, 05:17 PM
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

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Originally Posted by aydee View Post
The easiest life forms to administer, manage, control.Its painless. Any government. Any country. Any era. They love us Gulimatons.
Sure. The more people there are, the more restrictions are made to keep people treading on each others' toes. Fair enough, and - let's face it - musicians tend to be an eccentric, hedonistic and scruffy bunch which can be offensive to the delicate sensibilities of some in the upper and ruling classes. We don't attract a lot of interest from lawmakers.

Trouble is, it's not just we oddball musos who miss out through this sloppy legislative situation, it's also Joe and Josephine Average who enjoy a little non-threatening street theatre and, despite having their lives rules by work deadlines and driving kids to sport, are looking to LIVE rather than just exist. That's what this is all about IMO.

Grunter, I think you're on to something there! If I bore the council workers into submission with an eloquent (ie. prolix) soliloquy about the importance of providing vibrancy to cities and how that will help tourism and the balance of payments bla bla bla they'll still tell us to go away but at least probably miss out on the fine ... first time, anyway.

If we get fined I'll go to the tabloids and current affairs shows and turn it into a civil disobedience campaign - the soulless government machine trampling the harmless middle aged woman and friends who just want to give people pleasure with their music hehehe
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Old 09-20-2009, 05:32 PM
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

and then go throw all of the tea into the harbor.
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Old 09-21-2009, 02:54 AM
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

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Originally Posted by GRUNTERSDAD View Post
and then go throw all of the tea into the harbor.
Heh, and take thousands of people for a pilgrimage to a salt mine.

Fair dinkum, $1600 per person p.a. to busk anywhere in the city. $10 mill insurance. Are these people completely MAD? lol
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Old 09-21-2009, 05:18 AM
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

Wow, I'm stunned. 10 million in insurance. I'm an electrician, and I never needed more than 2 million. Does the permit have your name on it or is it anonymous? I can see a workaround here where the community of buskers gets together to trade permits for a, day, a week, get what I mean? Just pay your 40 a year, and organize!
I don't know what my local laws are, now I'm curious...

Polly you make a heck of an argument comparing the beggars and the others who need no permit.
You should use the internet and get petitions and affect some change, that is unacceptable.
Sydneys "councils" need to be shown that they are losing more money this way. How many buskers are gonna buy 10 mil in insurance? Surely they would collect more fees if that was eliminated. If they don't listen to that, then it's hopeless.
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Old 09-21-2009, 05:27 AM
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

In Abu Dhabi, it is illegal to busk. In fact, it is also illegal to drum on the beach or in a park with some friends. Bummer.

GJS
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Old 09-21-2009, 06:05 AM
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

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Originally Posted by Skulmoski View Post
In Abu Dhabi, it is illegal to busk. In fact, it is also illegal to drum on the beach or in a park with some friends. Bummer.
GJS
Holy cow! That's WAY uptight. Also in Australia, what a bunch of overregulated red tape to deal with. They should regulate criminals so closely, not just musicians.

In Boise, Idaho, the law is that you can't obstruct the sidewalk or play at excessive volume. If you offer to play something for a fee, then you need a sidewalk vendor's permit. If you are just playing with a hat laid out for tips, you need no permit of any kind. It is considered a free expression issue and the laws are very liberal.

Street performers enrich a city and they should be encouraged. It is a good sign when people want to do this in public places. I have to wonder, with such ridiculously restrictive laws, what are they trying to protect? What are they trying to stop? It sounds like a mindless, punitive, anti-business and anti-artist approach.
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Old 09-21-2009, 06:22 AM
aydee aydee is offline
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?


An excerpt
- Mayor LaGuadia started a street performers ban in 1935 and the total ban went into effect on January 1, 1936. The New York Times had many articles on the public out cry over the ban. NBC Radio did a live broadcast in support of street performers. Judges dismissed cases, but the ban remained in effect until 1970, when Mayor Lindsey lifted the street performance ban.

The ban in NYC hurt the whole country because many instruments including street "Hurdy Gurdy" organs were bought and repaired there.

The "Beat" movement of the 1950s and early 1960s "Folk Revival" exploded with the Washington Square Riots in April 1961. Federal Court cases by poet Allen Ginzberg and folk singers started the First Amendment legal challenge of the street music ban.

Mayor Lindsey finally lifted the street performance ban in 1970.

The troubles did not end. Technically people are allowed to perform with out a license anywhere in the city if no amplification is being used. However, without a license to perform, many street entertainers are asked to "move on." The court case below highlight the ongoing issues.

...
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Old 09-21-2009, 11:06 AM
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Pollyanna Pollyanna is offline
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larryace
You should use the internet and get petitions and affect some change, that is unacceptable.
I'm going to write take excerpts from my rant and write a letter to The Heckler, which is a column in our second most popular daily paper for people to write about what annoys them. I am sure the paper will want to print it because it's a real issue that affects a lot of people, not just me or a small group. Music in the streets helps make a place alive!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Skulmoski View Post
In Abu Dhabi, it is illegal to busk. In fact, it is also illegal to drum on the beach or in a park with some friends. Bummer.
That's so anti-art. Commisserations, Skul. It's hard to compehend the attitude but I guess the Middle East has a whole bunch of problems at present.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathMetalConga
In Boise, Idaho, the law is that you can't obstruct the sidewalk or play at excessive volume. If you offer to play something for a fee, then you need a sidewalk vendor's permit. If you are just playing with a hat laid out for tips, you need no permit of any kind. It is considered a free expression issue ...

Street performers enrich a city and they should be encouraged. It is a good sign when people want to do this in public places. I have to wonder, with such ridiculously restrictive laws, what are they trying to protect? What are they trying to stop? It sounds like a mindless, punitive, anti-business and anti-artist approach.
How very sane of Idaho. I'm sure that, rather than cause trouble, the liberal approach in Idaho makes it a more enjoyable place in which to live.

I think at one stage there was a rash of really awful buskers and they wanted to raise the standards. But they didn't coordinate it and each council did their own thing in lieu of laws being made at a state level, which would have made more sense. I think the farcical situation is also in part caused by:

* the state being asleep at the wheel because they saw it as unimportant (to be fair, it's not in the same league as issues surrounding schools, healthcare and public transport)

* councils seeing the chance to make some extra tax $$

*a minority of stuffy types at the top disapproving of musicians' tendency towards mild eccentricity, and

* fear of potential legal liability and it's easier to mess with a relatively disempowered group like musicians than to make laws to reduce the risk. To be fair, making new laws is a worry because there can be unintended conseuquences, but the current situation is farcical.

* Negative thinking. People's don't worry about a lack of buskers, just that most are enlivened when they hear a good one. See? There are no negative consequences - just a lack of positive ones. Politicians are so conditioned by tabloids to focus on their problems that they often don't even think about about facilitating positives. That's one reason why so little nation-building stuff gets done nowadays, because politicians are too busy trying to wallpaper over cracks before the tabloids can crucify them!

Thanks for the historical NYC perspective, Aydee, Not ideal but it now at least sounds better than over here.

Last edited by Pollyanna; 09-22-2009 at 04:54 AM.
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Old 09-22-2009, 03:36 AM
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

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Originally Posted by Deathmetalconga View Post
It sounds like a mindless, punitive, anti-business and anti-artist approach.

That is precisely what is happening. This is why I do not play live that much these days. It's better and easier to simply teach. Now this is kind of sad. I have live experience dating back to 1982. I play a myriad of percussion instruments and am considered to be "not bad" by my peers. Surely I have something to offer, but the scene is such that it offers me nothing in return. The pay is the same as it was 15 years ago for the average cover band. In fact it may be even less.

I often feel like telling parents to find another pursuit for their children because being a musician in Australia is a total waste of time and effort.

But let's face it, being able to play an instrument is a gift and we are so lucky. Why should we be paid to play? I mean we should be happy to give of ourselves for free. Do we not owe our society? How can we even charge for lessons? "$30.00 for 30 minutes????" Parents say in shock! Try getting a plumber for that price! A plumber does a 4 year apprenticeship. My musical apprenticeship has been going on for 30 years. But apparently it is worthless.
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Old 09-22-2009, 05:09 AM
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Pollyanna Pollyanna is offline
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

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Originally Posted by wy yung View Post
That is precisely what is happening. This is why I do not play live that much these days. It's better and easier to simply teach. Now this is kind of sad. I have live experience dating back to 1982. I play a myriad of percussion instruments and am considered to be "not bad" by my peers. Surely I have something to offer, but the scene is such that it offers me nothing in return. The pay is the same as it was 15 years ago for the average cover band. In fact it may be even less.
Supply and demand. First, in the 70s disco came in and bands were being replaced by canned music. I remember lots of T-shirts at the time saying "Keep Music Live" and "Disco Sucks" but the meat market situation that was disco won out, also fewer overheads for bar owners. Later the concept grew with dance clubs and the rise of status of DJs.

Then the killer - changes to licensing laws to allow pubs to bring in banks and banks gaming machines. That was the final nail in Sydney's music scene's coffin. Musicians kept on coming up through the ranks but the number of venues reduced dramatically ... and the laws of supply and demand determine that the value of musicians' services must dwindle as a result.

That's why busking appealed to me; there are so few venues around. Now I find serious roadblocks to even giving away my musical services for free!

Music is not considered important by the powers that be because its only function is to increase happiness. Bear in mind the "I'm alright Jack" approach of people who pull the strings can afford to get their musical rocks off by seeing the big bands for hundreds of dollars a pop. They are often chauffer driven so what happens on the street doesn't matter to them, as long as there's no crime or gridlocks.

Simply selfish and soulless behaviour.

Wy, your peers must be tough because you are an excellent drummer IMO, The tag "not bad" would apply to me :)
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Old 09-22-2009, 05:23 AM
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

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Wy, your peers must be tough because you are an excellent drummer IMO, The tag "not bad" would apply to me :)
Thanks Pol. You're too kind.
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Old 09-29-2009, 04:39 AM
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Pollyanna Pollyanna is offline
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Default Re: Busking rules in Sydney ... your area?

Sydney's music malaise continues. Now one of our top venues is closing down:

http://www.smh.com.au/national/hoey-...0929-g9bz.html

So, if it becomes increasingly difficult to play music live at venues, and busking rules are so restrictive, that leaves our cultural heritage and our musicians ... where?
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