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Last Thursday I gave busking in Stratford-Upon-Avon a go, it’s always been an amazing place to play. Despite knowing that a busking friend almost got fined for playing here, I took a chance and set up anyhow – it’s work, so by following the guidelines and being safe, I’m allowed to play… right? Video found here 🙂
Shared by Canal is King who said ‘Listening to the music and watching his fingers dance up and down the fretboard, I forgot all about lockdowns’. 🙂 That’s pretty cool. The general response that day was incredible. Most who tipped (and a lot did tip) expressed their gratitude to be able to hear/watch live music in a time like now. The park was somewhat busy, a lot of small groups having fish’n’chips by the fountain and under the trees. A sunny sky blessed us.
It’s been nice to busk during this lockdown, to both work and provide music for the streets and the few who wander it. Though there are a lot more wandering it than I’d imagine there to be in a National Lockdown. Still, I’m grateful for these opportunities.
Busking has always been a healing thing for me to do, it’s like a medicine for my mental wellbeing. I’ve noticed a massive increase in; personal happiness, purpose, motivation and confidence, over the past few weeks. It’s boosted my desire to create and share and create and share.
I just wanted to drop in a quick Blog and say hi, share that video, and wish you well.
The world is changing, it’s always changing. But recently with the troublesome events of ‘Coronavirus’, it’s changed so rapidly. Because of this I worry for many things, especially the health of my grandparent’s, my Nan came down with Pneumonia over Christmas 2019, and her chest generally picks up any flu going around, I pray daily for her safety.
It’s hit the entertainment industry quite hard, as well as pretty much all industries. Streets are empty, cities on lockdown, people in quarantine and physical cash being avoided, it seems busking (as we know it) is somewhat compromised, for the time being. There is a general response from busker all over the globe to ‘Busk Virtually’ (i.e. Charlotte Campbell, = Livestream video, who is often found entertaining the tourists of London down South Bank). Many already do busk virtual, websites like – Street Jelly and Twitch, give a platform for performers to showcase their art to an audience of potentially millions, with donation buttons for the listeners to thank the performers. It’s a growing theme that has now gotten a lot more attention – “I can’t hit the streets, my gigs are all cancelled, what the f*k do I do?” – I’m sure it’s not just me who’s been thinking this day in and day out.
So for those who make a living from busking and general music performances, we’re all asking…
….what the **** do I do?
I don’t hold the answers, just some ideas on what we can do in times like these. I hope they help.
Virtual Tip Jar (paypal.me/jameschatfield)
The easiest way someone can throw a donation/virtual-tip your way is ‘paypal.me’. With a simple swish and flick, you can drop a donation of your choice to that person. You can edit the link to add a certain amount i.e. (https://www.paypal.me/jameschatfield/1) = £1 (…go on then 😉 …)
Set up a live stream on Facebook & add a virtual tip jar = potential earnings. You’re not guaranteed lots of tips and you may even get no tips. We’re in a culture that is continuously fed content from all sorts of performers and entertainment platforms, so we’re used to watching things for free and the virtual tip jars are somewhat new to us. But putting out as much content as you can with a ‘paypal.me’ link in there will help, there have been times where I’ve had a random donation, and emailed with thanks and discovering they found it through an old youtube video or something. So keep these links on your content i.e. in your YouTube video descriptions. Maybe I’ll get a notification from a donation from you lovely reader right now! 🙂 (See Video Description)
Monthly Subscriptions (https://www.patreon.com/chatfield)
Patreon was introduced to me by Amanda Palmer (patreon.com/amandapalmer), who spoke about the ‘art of asking’ during a TED speech. A platform in which creators can give more to their fans and where fans can gift a monthly donation of their choice. Certain price ranges offer certain rewards i.e. I have a $15+ reward gifting letters/postcards, from travels. You can get really creative and come up with any kind of reward for the fans – personal songs, house concerts (although that might not be a thing right now), personalised pottery gifts? Literally anything within your realms of creation.
Think of it like subscribing to Netflix or a Magazine you get monthly. You are an entertainment source providing for your fans. If your fans enjoy it enough and can afford it, they’ll subscribe and you get to build a really cool community between the two parties!
There are other platforms with this kind of feature, one I recently discovered was https://ko-fi.com/ – which gives both donation options and subscription options, as though it’s combining the two ideas above 🙂 It’s worth a look!
Twitch also has a subscription option too! So that’s worth a look.
Easily the best place for independent artists to self-release and manage their music. A super easy platform to upload your music and get paid. The best thing is, you can set a price of your choosing and those who are purchasing can pay anything they want too! You price your EP for £3, someone can choose to pay £3 onwards, perhaps even £300?! Imagine that, a friend Steve Lawson is a master of Bandcamp, go check out his stuff! Bandcamp also has a ‘subscription’ option, with Steve, you pay £30 (or more) a year and get all the music he’s ever released – which is an insane quantity (and quality).
Jump onboard social media platforms and collaborate with other creatives. Join the Facebook groups that are piecing together online performances/virtual open mics etc. Get creative with how you perform via livestream- performances for specific audiences, get your kids involved, paint and play, go to the beach and sing some summer songs. Live stream whilst you record your next album (i.e. Netwon Faulkner Studio Zoo). Do whatever it is you love to do and keep sharing it with the world, in a way that unites us 🙂
These ideas listed, are currently my main focus on surviving this lockdown as a musician who would usually make a living from street performing and playing shows. I feel it’s a good start, and I can only see it building upwards the more work I put into it. It’s going to be tough for sure, this situation is tough for all of us across the globe. Together we must unite and aid one another in any way we can. I hope my music can help in some way, it’s all I’ve ever wanted, to create music and bring joy to people. It’s the reason I do this.
It’s been amazing to see the response on Facebook for online gig groups, this evening I performed at a ‘Virtual Open Mic’ which was brilliant! : )
Previous to this I performed a longer set on my Facebook page;
It’s been a really great response so far! Very thankful for those who have watched, shared and tipped 🙂
I wish you all look during the coming months we’ve ahead of us.
Sitting in the rain, you’ve got to get used to that as a busker. It happens all the time, especially here in England… Right now I’m sat under some light rain in Stratford-upon-Avon waiting for a busking pitch. As there’s a very organised and relaxed busking code here, a group of ‘town hosts’ walk around and keep all the Buskers in check. We have a 2 hour time slot, and are limited to select pitches. So a first come first serve, the woman singing now, is finishing at 1pm, where I’ll take over and play till around 3pm.
Theres a few other buskers I’ve seen walking around seeking a busking pitch. Because there’s a Christmas Victorian Fayre on here, it, a) has brought a huge amount of people here which tends to be good for busking and, b) the stalls and stages have shut off a few of the selected busking pitches. So this pitch (in picutre) seems the only viable option. It’s always the better pitch for profit on any other non-Christmas-Market day, the other pitches are more enjoyable to play as you get a view of the park beside the river.
Its actually a little crazy busy right now, the flow of people has massively increased. Which kind of makes sense why it’d be better for busking as, more people = more chance of people dropping a coin 🤷♂️. But I’ve noticed at times that quieter spots actually prove better, I feel its because people have more time to sit watch and enjoy the music, treating it more like a concert, they’re more likely to donate more or grab a CD! CD sales really make a difference to a busking day!
I am literally just rambling my thoughts into thumb action into blog action into words and things. I’ve been meaning to blog for some time, but yet again I have this idea in my head that I should spend hours on hours writing up the perfect post covering lots of things. But the more that idea rolls on the more days and things I miss writing about because I don’t find the time to write them down! So here is a quick post of my thoughts on this life as a busker. It’s a wonderful life it really is.
I had a stage of darkness where many things threw me down and I lacked purpose and belief in myself so I just felt like hiding. Although I still went out busking anyhow, (my subconscious, must of known that the persistence would lead to self-healing) whilst I was busking the darkness would run around my mind and it would distract me from enjoying it and being that which I am to be!
So that leads me to the main point of the blog post in which I just made up the title and idea of what that title actually means.
Sitting in the Rain.
It always rains, regardless, its raining somewhere, inside the mind in a poetic sense…🤷♂️waffledaffle? Or outside somewhere on this gigantic planet which we call home. But you’ve just got to go sit in it no matter what. Don’t let that stop you from doing the things that bring you joy, maybe at the time you’re like, f*k that, I just want to hide here and do f*k all….. Well f*k that, because you know that this thing (for me busking/composing), will bring your soul joy, even if the first 30 minutes feel like poop, it’ll come up with goodness! Then later down the line of time you’ll be glad you did it regardless!
So, shut that silly annoying little miss negative voice in your head, go sit in the rain and do that which you love!
Why not? What excuse can really defeat happiness and enjoyment?
Do it with all your heart and soul,
One life, no regrets, no rugrats, no regret!
Try and fail and try again
I promise I’ll make more sense on the next blog post!
Busk and gig with original music
Document the journey that music takes you on
Share good words with music and the stories
Find beautiful things and share them with the world
Inspire others to pursue their own passions
Help others on their journeys
Stay true to the music you love to make
Realise that you have so much time to create and travel
Take short interval breaks each day to remind yourself where you are, where you’ve come from and where you’re going
“Don’t give in”
“Don’t stop playing this music and don’t let anyone stop you from doing this”
“Keep on, keep on, keep on”
– countless strangers on the streets whilst I’m out busking.
These little snipers of advice always seem to occur in those moments where my mind wonders to a ridiculous state filled with doubt and panic. Someone walks past and throws a small sentence at me, like they can see my canvas fading, then they’ll throw a little ball of colour at it (splat, feel good gosh dammit!!! We like your music!). It’s hards at times not to fall into these states, but it does happen, gratefully not so much now. The more I busk and create music, the more colour I can see, the easier it is to lighten my mood and find peace in the mind. Its a skill – self-love – forever growing, patience and practice is absolute key.
Self-love? Well it’s exactly that, love for yourself. Not in a egotistical or arrogant way. In a sense that you hold love for yourself, in all that you are, that you can look in the mirror and smile at your strange and wonderful face “I love you, I want you to be happy, I want you to feel good and I want you to live the best life!”. (If you’ve not yet done that today, or never have…. Do it, now? Today! Just smile at yourself and tell yourself all the wonderful things that you are. Just like you would to someone you love, a sibling, child or partner).
I’ve built a space in my mind through meditation, visualation and states of flow when I’m creating music. A space that I call the ‘mind island’, when I close my eyes, I can see it so vividly in all its beauty, I’ve built a library a garden, a cave that leads to a studio in the clouds and a whole range of wonders. When I’m there, I only allow good thoughts and emotions to settle in it, pushing anything negative away, like there’s no space for it, because there isn’t. It’s taken years to form what it is, starting with a commitment to 5 minutes a day, closing my eyes and creating good thoughts, letting them float around and floating with them. Now when I visit, I feel an instant sense of relief, like all the weight is lifted off my shoulders….opening my eyes to the feeling of – everything is fine, we’re alive right? And look there’s a tree over there swaying in the wind, it looks beautiful. I realised that there’s so much beauty in the small details to life, that stressing over unnecessary imaginary things, really isn’t helping me feel good or spread good.
Stressed, spelt backwards, Desserts (just think of your favourites when you start worrying about worrying).
I strongly recommend, committing to these two things each day, no matter what. As much time as you can, whenever you can;
1) Self-love. Look at yourself in a mirror, smile and compliment yourself, your personality, your accomplishments, your body, your skills etc. Whilst you’re driving, “You are awesome, and today your smile will change anothers day”. Affirmations whilst you’re walking or commuting, ‘I am happiness, I am happy, I am loved, I am alive and well’.
2) Building a ‘Mind-..something’. Close your eyes, visualise a place of wonder, your own creation and craft only good thoughts within it, things that make you happy, things that warm your heart. 5-10 minutes in the first hour of your day, is massively recommended, setting good thoughts from the start of the day.
I cannot explain with words how much these simple habits have changed my view on life, my belief in myself and just everything in life. It feels like a super power at times, and it’s so easy to do. Patience and practice is absolute key!
From a recent busking session out in the sunny streets of Cardiff. My original song, ‘Holding Back’, written with lyrics for concerts. For now I don’t sing on the streets, but it’s something I have planned, I very much enjoy singing and making noises with my voice, but I feel my voice is not yet to a good enough standard – plenty of practice.
During this song, there was a little human in a pushchair with I guess their Granddad with them. They were smiling so cheekily and dancing so much, it’s amazing the effect music has on people and especially little babies. Most of the time they’re amazed and stare at you in such an intrigued way, ‘what is this noise?!’, ‘what is going on?!’, ‘waa?!’.
It’s been a while since I posted on here, I’ve been meaning to for months but I’ve always felt like I never had enough to say. Or that I should be writing big long posts that take days to write. Then I thought, well that just doesn’t allow me to document my busking journeys and musical endeavours. So why not just post snippets and small journal entries on a regular basis. Gives you the reader some sort of story to follow and there’d be plenty of video links etc!
Here’s the second most recent thing I posted on YouTube;
A riff and melody idea played with my hands full. This has to be one of my favourite ways of writing and performing, the limitations and challenge within this method is so much fun! I like to push myself to be able to write in any set-up. I just wish this set-up was more portable so I could busk with it more and take it to epic woodland locations for some ‘epic videos’!
I have taken this full set-up out busking, but with the size of the set-up and my tiny car, it exerts quite a lot energy. It’s a lot of fun though, here’s a video of me performing in this way; (on a very windy day in Worcester, so excuse the amount of wind sound coming through the audio)
I spent last weekend in Oxford (5th-7th April 2019), it’s such a beautiful place. Probably my favourite city within the UK, (that I’ve visited so far). I love the city, but there can be an odd crowd at times, whilst playing outside West-gate. A highly intoxicated man was standing a couple feet in front of my setup, shuffling his way down the street in a slow motion manner. I’m setting up my stuff to play, just about to plug my guitars in, when he stands still, I just look at him, ‘this is a bit weird’ I think. He stands still for a few minutes, then fills his trousers (and floor) with urine, it just pours down the street, lucky it’s on a bank and it travels away from my stuff, it was like a stream. I wanted to feel bad for the guy, but as I walked into town, he was just sat at a bench shouting abuse to random people. After he did this, in a very animated and cartoon style skit, he falls over, more slower than slow… and his head landed in the guitar case, so I’m like ‘…..what, do I do?’ A couple of people came to see if he was alright, he mumbled some abuse at them waving his arms. Another highly intoxicated man comes over and tells me he’ll sort him out, so he drags the man on the floor by his ears to the other side of the street, shouts at him ‘what you doing, you f—ing idiot, there’s kids about, yam a —-‘. Council/police come over, but he was gone into the endless dream world. When I finished playing, I walked past to see how he was, he was half asleep rolling a cigarette. The council didn’t seem impressed.
This area of Oxford ‘Bond Square’, does have tendency to gather many drunks and homeless people. Unfortunately there’s the odd occasion of unpleasantness, but most of the time, its a great place to play. Most of this group are always thankful for me playing, a few sit next to me and just watch me play, smiling loads and getting hyped about certain techniques I’m using. They’ll say “I really like it when you play here, thank you!”. These kind of moments make me believe I’m doing something good for this world. At times I feel that I’m not giving enough to this world or that I should be doing something more impacting, but I guess small things like this can truly make a difference.
Thank you for reading my post! I’ll be back with more stories soon!
If you’d like to support my journey, you can purchase my music (with a price of your choosing) on my Bandcamp page;
Here’s my latest release
It’s been one of those amazing days that has uplifted my spirit and strengthened my love for the art of street performing ☺️
While playing outside Debenhams, a woman who seemed to be having a pretty serious fall out with her partner, sat right in front of where I was playing, closed her eyes and just listened. She kept shaking her partner off as he tried to talk to her. He eventually walked off, and she sat there smiling at me. Pulled out a pen and wrote that note ‘love your music’. She kept smiling, then disappeared for a while. She came back sat down and burst into tears, sitting watching me play, smiling and crying loads. It was obvious she was in a bad way, but there was a peace inside she was holding onto and I think my music really helped her find that.
The song I was playing drawed in a crowd because of a beat that got a bunch of kids dancing, they were laughing and smiling so much and everyone who saw this happening were smiling with joy and the energy was good and high. The woman came back with a band and tied it on my arm whilst I was playing and gave me some flowers she stole from a flower bed aha! xD she also gave me a picture something she’s kept for years that has brought her luck and love, ‘hold on to this, I want you to have this as luck, you helped me today, thank you’. She left smiling and a lot of warmth and inspiration!
I also had a few people saying “why are you here? You shouldn’t be on the streets you’re too good , you should be out there on staged and festivals!”. Well sure I’d love to get gigs and festival slots, but I’m also here on the streets because of these kind of things, the spontaneity, the people I meet and the good things that I can bring.
I sometimes get filled with doubt and wonder if I’m actually doing something worth while for this world, and then things like this happens and I feel that I am doing something meaningful and good for this world, it may only be small, but I guess that’s something everyone can do a small something to make a small change, collectively being a big change.
Keep on loving and believing in yourself cause your capable of more than you know!
🙏❤️ Have a most wonderful day!