Edited by Trine Bille, Anna Mignosa and Ruth Towse
Chapter 17: Busking as a source of income
Busking most commonly involves musical performances but can encompass performance art, juggling, fire-eating and even those who do nothing and receive money for it (human statues). The negative view is that it is a parasitic drain on the economy and has negative effects in terms of space infringement and noise pollution. A first counterview from within economics is that payments to buskers may simply be voluntary altruism. Beyond this, payment can serve a useful function by subsidizing those training in artistic labour markets. Further, busking might provide beneficial ambience for consumers of other products. Busking also shows how fringe or subversive cultural product can be brought into the mainstream, as shown by some large busking festivals in major world capitals. Moreover, some buskers have become successful mainstream artists. In the current digital Internet economy one can also discuss the nature of self-posted YouTube videos as a type of ‘virtual busking’.
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