Buskers do it! How about you?
If you are serious about you performing career, you can take the necessary steps to make sure it is a success. That’s exactly what singers/songwriters Coco and Lafe did when they took to the streets of Boston to begin their performing careers as buskers or street performers.
Armed with a guitar, a sound system, a bucket full of original songs, their rescue beagle Lila and an Excel spreadsheet, they headed out each day, testing street corners, squares, parks, markets, malls, and subway stops. At the end of each day, they entered extensive notes into their spreadsheet.
- Their income in tips
- CDs sales in person, and CD sales after the gig from the website
- The weather
- The number of people in the crowd
- The time of day for best sales and crowds
- The day of the month.
Rain or shine, they tested their performance spots during this first year in Boston taking extensive notes about each spot they played. When they returned to Boston the next year, they chose their performance spots based on the results of their previous years’ Excel spreadsheet findings. Back they went to the choice spots, the places where they sold the most CDs or where the tips were the greatest.
On rainy days, they went underground to the best subway stops. Even though Lafe wasn’t fond of the subways, since he preferred open-air performances, on those rainy days, the Excel spreadsheet reminded them that their CD sales were actually good. Not in-person since the crowds were rushing by with little time between trains to stop for long to listen, but from Website sales after these folks heard them in the subway. There may not have been enough time to stop, listen and buy a CD, but the brief encounter was enough to send a passerby to their website to purchase, after the fact. Tracking the spikes in Web sales one or two days after a subway performance gave them clear indications that they were having an impact, even with the moving crowd.
Reviewing the numbers entered into their spreadsheet served as a constant guide of where to set up, what time of day to play, and how long to stay at a particular spot to maximize their sales and tips based on the crowd’s traffic patterns. Year after year, they track their sales, their tips and the choice spots to focus on the best spots and remove the less productive spots from their list.
This practice has become their standard to gauge their success, track their progress and plan their future. They build an excel spreadsheet to track every phase of their career, whether busking or performing at house concerts or on their national tour of Farmer’s Markets. By keeping track of their numbers, then reviewing those numbers before making plans for the next tour, or the next day, they have been able to plan for their success every step of the way with precision and focus.
And they are having a blast doing it.