Dan Hough

Busking Report – Baker Street (+ stats!)

Published 29 June 2018 in London, UK

Hi 👋 Welcome to my busking blog. If you wanna know more about my adventures visit the main busking page, or say hello on My Facebook Page, or Twitter.

This morning before work, I stopped by Baker Street station on the Jubilee Line, for some busking that I’d been told would be quite good at 8am by a fellow busker. It was my first time there, which means today, I am officially half way through the busking pitches! Fifty percent, baby! Yeah! 🎉🎸🙌🎷

Cue triumphant rendition of Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty.

Read all the way to the bottom of this for some special half-way-there stats and musings.

Anyway, today’s takings: £32.87 in total - so, £16.44 for Crisis and the rest for me. It was actually a ~1.6hr set because I had real trouble finding the completely unmarked pitch, so the hourly wage for this spot is £20.54. That’s quite good. This is the 6th best so far, only a few pennies behind Chancery Lane.

Some notable moments

The generous photo-takers

A group of tourists got very excited when they saw me and all gathered around to take a photo while I played, and at the end ALL FIVE OF THEM gave me some cash each! So nice! They were very jolly and excited, really brightened up my day.

The cool winking guys

Today, three separate men with a serious amount of swagger in their step were so impressed with my music that they gave me the ol’ finger-gun-and-wink when they walked by. One guy even had headphones in, which is encouraging as usually if people with headphones in do anything, they push their headphones deeper into their ear canals, presumably to drown out my noise with the sound of Ira Glass from This American Life. Can’t really argue with that, it’s a great podcast.

Contactless

As you may know, contactless is here. I took two contactless payments today - one from a man who was very much in a rush and tapped as quickly as he could. The other from a friend from the comedy circuit who happened to walk on by. She was my very final tipper. Thanks, Maya!

The pitch. Unmarked, and actually a bit of a thoroughfare - but the staff said it was okay and I didn't seem to slow anybody down.
The pitch. Unmarked, and actually a bit of a thoroughfare - but the staff said it was okay and I didn't seem to slow anybody down.

I’ve been thinking about contactless. It turns a lot of heads, and today someone even came up to take a photo of just the reader. But I wonder if it’s having any negative effects on the chance of passers-by to tip.

If it wasn’t there, would they be more inclined to give me coins? I wonder this because it’s possible people see the contactless reader, subconsciously think, “he’s probably doing okay,” then move on. For some people it’s obviously going to prompt them to tip me, but other people may not feel that way.

After all, when you see a busker’s hoard, if it’s looking rather empty, you might be more inclined to tip them. Or maybe not, I don’t know! If you have any opinions about this, please let me know in the comments.

New songs, old songs

I debuted one new cover today: Photosynthesis by one of my favourite artists (and a big inspiration for me), Frank Turner. It got me 50p from a little girl who had been building up the courage to pay. She walked up slowly, and then dropped the money in, then immediately jumped up and excitedly skipped towards her mum. Adorable!

I also re-introduced Fat Bottomed Girls, which hadn’t been played in ages! It went well, too. I played with a capo on the 5th fret, it made it so much easier to sing.

New set-up

I’ve added another clip to my mic stand for holding my smartphone. This way, I can log songs into my spreadsheet a lot faster (in about 10 seconds instead of 20, since I don’t have to remove it from my pocket and unlock the screen) which means faster turnaround and less chance of forgetting to log songs.

I also made my cheat-sheet more useful and adaptive: it attaches by velcro now and it’s double-sided, so I can have a larger selection of songs on it.

The first tip

I started with Breakfast at Tiffany’s again, as usual! And I got £1 from two friendly but in-a-rush commuters.

The view from the pitch. It got very busy.
The view from the pitch. It got very busy.

The biggest tip

This definitely happened during the song where all the people came to take a photo with me. It’s with a reasonably unexciting song, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but I think I made about £6.50 from that one.

How to improve

Now that I know about Baker Street I think I can do better next time. As I said, the pitch was completely unmarked so it took a while to set up which threw me off a little. I actually got through 20 songs in only 1hr 40 minutes. I could’ve fit in an extra 4 or 5 in the 20 minutes I didn’t play for, and Baker Street seems like a good morning station.

I still need more variety though, and some upbeat and singalongey songs for sunny, happy days like today. Photosynthesis was a good one to add.

Half way there: what’ve I learned?

I'm now half way to having performed at and logged all the pitches on the Underground network.
I'm now half way to having performed at and logged all the pitches on the Underground network.

As you might know, I keep track of every single song I perform via a Google Form which goes into a spreadsheet, and I have various queries on that data which rank things. I’d like to make a “Stats” page at some point, but until then I can share with you some of the data at this point.

Biggest-earning songs

At the 50% mark, I can tell you that my five best-performing songs in terms of average total takings per performance are:

I can also tell you that the song for which I have received the largest individual number of tips (i.e. how many people) was _The Lazy Song_ by Bruno Mars, where I logged 9 - but I actually think it was more, 9 is just the maximum I allow on my form.

You may also find this interesting: according to my data, this is the breakdown of which songs are responsible for most of the takings, as a pie chart.

Clearly I play the top three songs a lot, but it's also indicative of how popular they tend to be.
Clearly I play the top three songs a lot, but it's also indicative of how popular they tend to be.

Highest-earning sessions

The top five highest-earning sessions I’ve had so far:

Most-performed songs

Unsurprisingly, I’ve performed Breakfast at Tiffany’s the most since starting the blog: 46 times. Closely followed by Torn, at 45. I wouldn’t be surprised if they continue neck-and-neck for a while.

The original song I’ve performed the most is Bored Bored Bored, which I’ve played 28 times on the Underground. If you wanna know what that sounds like, look below:

General things I’ve learned

One thing also I’ve started noticing is that adding a bit of flair to the end of the performance in the form of a “woo!” or a “yeah!” can have a significant impact on the way the public responds. If I woo, they’re more likely to woo back, or applaud, and probably go away feeling a lot better with themselves.

I’ve also realised the importance of a good warmup. Not just for my voice, either - but a sort of emotional warmup can help. If I can get into a good, positive mood which is conducive to brightening peoples’ days, everything just goes better.

Heckle me on Twitter @basicallydan.