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To Live and Die a Street Busker

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Recently Kevin Price, Host of the nationally syndicated Price of Business Show, interviewed Benjamin “BENCASSO” Barnes.


The Benjamin “BENCASSO” Barnes Commentaries

Busking offers classical musicians a platform to share their music and potentially earn income, yet it comes with risks. These include the possibility of being asked to leave by authorities, theft or damage to equipment, exposure to harsh weather, and unpredictable income. Despite challenges, many are drawn to busking for its rewards: direct audience connection, potential tips, and building a fan base. However, buskers must adapt to diverse environments, handle distractions, and improvise without sheet music. Tomplay, a digital sheet music platform, can enhance the busking experience. While street performance has challenges like instrument theft and noise pollution, it remains a fulfilling way for musicians to engage with audiences and share their passion for music.

Busking, the act of performing music on the streets for tips, presents classical musicians with a unique blend of opportunities and challenges. While it offers a distinct platform for sharing music and potentially earning income, it also comes with a set of risks that musicians must carefully consider.

One significant risk faced by buskers is the possibility of being asked to vacate their performance location by law enforcement or property owners. This risk arises from various factors such as noise complaints, unauthorized performances in restricted areas, or local ordinances governing street performances. Additionally, buskers are vulnerable to the threat of theft or damage to their instruments and equipment, which are indispensable tools of their trade. Given the outdoor nature of street performances, exposure to harsh weather conditions like rain, extreme temperatures, or strong winds further compounds the challenges. Moreover, the unpredictability of income is a constant concern for buskers, as there is no guaranteed salary or fixed compensation for their performances.

Despite these formidable challenges, many musicians are still drawn to busking for its myriad rewards. The opportunity to directly share their music with the public, circumventing traditional gatekeepers such as agents or venue managers, is a powerful motivator. Busking fosters a direct and immediate connection with audiences, fostering a sense of intimacy and authenticity in the performance experience. Furthermore, the potential for earning tips from appreciative listeners, as well as the opportunity to showcase talent and build a loyal fan base, serves as additional incentives for buskers. Overall, despite the inherent risks, the allure of artistic expression, community engagement, and the prospect of financial gain continue to attract musicians to the dynamic realm of street performance.

Adapting to new environments and diverse audiences poses one of the primary challenges for buskers. Street performers must navigate distractions, interruptions, stage fright, and the necessity to improvise without sheet music or a set list. However, the benefits derived from busking can be substantial.

Exposure and recognition for one’s music, the cultivation of a loyal fan base, earning income while pursuing a passion, and refining performance skills are some of the rewards that busking offers. To augment the busking experience, musicians can leverage resources like Tomplay, a digital sheet music platform.

Tomplay provides access to high-quality sheet music, accompaniments, and practice tools, enabling musicians to enhance their skills and repertoire. Additionally, Tomplay extends a 30% discount on its Premium subscription with the promo code BENJAMIN30, thereby supporting CultureScholar through an affiliate link.

Despite the potential rewards, street performance is not without its share of challenges. Instrument theft, noise pollution, audience disinterest, and the need to repeat popular songs to meet financial targets are common issues encountered by buskers. Furthermore, the presence of debris on sidewalks and the potential for intimidation by individuals, including the homeless, can further complicate the experience.

Professional classical musicians may exhibit reluctance to engage in street performances due to concerns about reputation and association. However, it is essential to acknowledge that many street performers are talented individuals grappling with financial hardships. Thus, it is imperative for both musicians and the public to recognize and appreciate the dedication and hard work of street performers.

In conclusion, busking offers classical musicians a gratifying avenue to connect with audiences and share their passion for music. While it presents challenges, with meticulous planning and preparation, street performance can evolve into a valuable platform for artistic expression and community engagement. By embracing the rewards and navigating the risks, musicians can embark on a fulfilling journey of sharing their music with the world


Meet Benjamin Barnes, also known as Bencasso: an artist, educator, musician, and mental health advocate. With accolades such as the 2023 grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, Barnes is a prominent figure in the arts community. He’s contributed as a panelist for the California Arts Council and consulted for the US Department of Education. Under Bencasso LLC, he runs various ventures including a web gallery, music label, publishing company, and a Halloween-themed merchandise store. As the founder of Culture Scholar, a nonprofit dedicated to arts and education, Barnes’s impact extends far beyond his impressive artistic portfolio.

“Rilke String Quartet” that is available on all streaming platforms and major webstores.  Here are the Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music links:

Spotify links:

Rilke String Quartet on Spotify: 

Piano Quartet no.3 in C minor opus 60 Andante


iTunes links:

Rilke String Quartet on iTunes: 

Amazon music links:

Rilke String Quartet on Amazon Music: 

Piano Quartet no.3 in C minor opus 60 Andante on Amazon Music: 

All of my recorded works and contact information is here:
My Merch and music EPK website is
My Halloween and Day of the Dead themed merch store is
The nonprofit 501(c)(3) I founded and am Executive Director of is:
Connect with Benjamin Barnes on Social Media:
Benjamin Barnes archive-

Twitter/X: @benjamindbarnes


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