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By Bhvishya Patel, Money Team

We spoke to three buskers to find out what it’s like to hit the streets in the UK.

Amir, 29, came to the UK from Pakistan with a passion for music

Aamir Hashmi, who moved to the UK to study in 2022, said he started taking buses in central London 10 months ago because “music was his passion”.

“There are many problems in Pakistan, so I decided to leave and move to London. I feel I can do better in London than in my country,” he said.

He said that busing was now his main income, but sometimes he did work in warehouses.

“I never started it for the money, I started it because it’s my passion, but now it’s also my main job,” he said.

Amir, who often performs at the capital’s Piccadilly Circus or along Oxford Street, said he often returned home with just £10-£15 in his pocket after a day’s travel.

He said: “Many times I sleep without food and sometimes I sleep on the floor of the road when I have no shelter.

“I don’t have a place to live, but I have friends who often let me stay with them, they don’t pay me rent – they look after me.

“Sometimes I do private shows for income, but it’s very difficult because the cost of living is going up. If I’m going somewhere, I prefer to walk most of the time. I walk with my speakers and carry my equipment.”

Despite the financial problems, Amir said he wanted to continue performing on the streets because his “goal was to make people happy.”

He said: “With busking, there is no stage and you can just start performing. When I perform, I connect with the people who come to listen. If I feel that people are not enjoying themselves, I change the song and try to make them happy.”

Earlier this year, Aamir recorded a song with Neha Naznein Shakeel, a Malayalam actress from India who approached the singer three months ago on Oxford Street.

“I wrote this song 12 years ago and after all these years my song is now recorded in London,” he added.

Jade, 24, left retail

Jade Thornton, from Amersham, started driving at the age of 17 after leaving college with a friend in 2017 and soon realized it was something she enjoyed doing and could make a living from.

He started doing it full-time in late 2018, but when the pandemic hit, he described becoming “overnight unemployed” and having to take on retail jobs to support himself.

“I chose not to go to university – I just thought it wasn’t for me, so I went straight into part-time retail,” he said.

“I take my hat off to anyone who does retail – it’s one of the most grueling jobs out there. People who run retail don’t get nearly as much respect as they deserve.

“Some of the clients I’ve been in front of haven’t been that nice and I thought it was bothering me, so I just thought ‘if I don’t go now, then when?’

As the global economy slowly recovered, he decided to leave retail and pursue music full-time in 2022.

“It’s hard to switch off – I’m busking but I’m constantly messaging clients, writing lists and learning songs,” she said.

As for finances, Jade said there was no average amount to earn, but it could range from £15-£100 a day, depending on a number of factors.

“It depends on the time of the month, whether it’s sunny, whether people have paid, Christmas is on the way or Christmas has just passed,” he explained.

The musician said he struggled at first when he got into trouble, but his parents were always supportive.

He said: “You obviously get a few questions from people asking you: Are you sure you want to quit your job and sing on the street?

“I’ve lived at home for a long time and I’m grateful that my parents were able to help me in this way, because I know that not everyone has the opportunity.”

Although going out is now Jade’s full-time job, she said some months were harder to make ends meet than others.

“If I’m brutally honest in months like January and February, it’s going to be very difficult. I’ve had enough gigs in December this year to cover January,” he said.

“I didn’t have to go busking last June-July and December because I got so many gigs through busking. I’m part of a lot of online agencies and I also do a lot of pubs, weddings, birthdays and other events. .”

Jade noted that the cost of living crisis has made things difficult.

He said: “A couple of pub gigs I’ve had have been canceled because they’ve had to rethink their strategies, but if someone cancels then I can go. There’s been a bit of a disruption with finances, but that’s COVID as well – with COVID I’ve been out of work overnight. “

The young musician went on to say that he was “very grateful” when someone gave it to him, and even small gestures like sitting, listening or just smiling, “is a currency in itself.”

“It’s an escape for me as a singer and then for the audience as well,” he added.

“Kids also really enjoy listening to buskers and some may not be able to go see live music for a number of reasons, so if they come across them in the street and it might spark something, it’s great to think about. I’m a small part of that.”

Charlotte, 34, a longtime busker

Charlotte Campbell, 34, who usually takes the bus to Southbank or the London Underground, said she started taking buses during the 2012 London Olympics and although “it used to be enough, recently she has had to do more gigs in the evening.

“A typical day usually moves up to 6 p.m. and then in the evening until 8 p.m.,” he said.

“I was still able to make a living, but after the pandemic I played more paid gigs because things became so uncertain. I think the uncertainty has just continued – it seems to be a way of life.”

The musician said tips for his CDs, which he puts on during the show, ranged between £5-10 and in the current cashless climate the card reader was “essential”.

He said he pre-sets the card reader to £3 when playing on the Southbank and £2 when traveling on the London Underground “because people are in a rush”.

Although he described his earnings as a “trade secret”, he said Busker’s earnings were “definitely down” but due to several factors – the pandemic, people with less money and the cost of living crisis.

“Also, a lot of grounds have closed down, which means a lot of buskers are trying to compete for one place, so all these factors have affected my life as a busker,” he said.

“I would say, even though my income is mainly from busking, I’ve had to subsidize it with more paid gigs than before. I just haven’t felt safe from busking in the last two years.

“Most of my gigs have been booked by people who’ve seen me enjoy myself like this indirectly, my whole career – if I don’t play, I don’t get the gigs I’m playing tonight. So, directly and indirectly, the bassing is mine. All the income.”

Despite the uncertainty, she said it was freeing to be able to go out and come out to people in an intimate way.

“You’re not on stage and there’s no separation between you and them. It’s a really great bond you can make – I want to be able to keep that,” he added.

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