Busking is the practice of performing in public places to receive donations of money.
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Many people perform on the street for a variety of reasons. Children may busk to earn some extra pocket-money, and to practice their talent in front of an audience.
Some otherwise unemployed people may busk during the day to earn some "tax-free" money.
Professional buskers make a living out of performing on the streets. Some of them report their income to the Internal Revenue Service; some don't.
Places and performance
Public places such as shopping malls (although this is often not permitted), outside supermarkets, subway/metro stations, and busy sidewalks or civic squares are good because of the large amount of foot traffic.
Many cities encourage buskers as they are a form of entertainment and act to lighten up the area. Some cities require that the busker obtain a license (although this is intermittently enforced); some cities reserve certain high-traffic areas for "approved" buskers and even publish schedules of who will be performing.
During busy times of the day, buskers can earn a large hourly rate. This is not a constant amount, and varies from place to place and day to day.
A pitch is an area where buskers play. Good pitches are hard to come by and generally competed for by other buskers. The best pitches are where there is heavy pedestrian traffic and minimal noise interference. It is not generally accepted to hold a pitch for longer than a few hours if another busker wishes to play. However, career buskers usually maintain a certain right-of-pitch over a hobby busker. A compromise is usually arranged between competing buskers.
Many performers who later rose to greater prominence spent time as buskers. Noted examples include: