Now that I have been doing it for a while, and especially will be doing over the next 2 weeks (Nottinghamshire half-term), I have come to a few more conclusions on post-covid busking. Definitely, it seems that smaller towns and local centres seem to be bucking the retail decline trends of larger towns and cities. Bakewell is definitely going to be on my list of places now – it generally proves good, and I was pleasantly surprised by my foray yesterday into Matlock, an even smaller place, with no pedestrianised or reduced-traffic streets. Add to this Sutton-in-Ashfield, also not big or busy but with paved areas and (at the moment, at least) no competition. May also try some other places next week (when Derbyshire is on half-term, they only have one week). The fact that I have generally had hassle from the jumped-up council officials everytime (It helps if you know the law, which they either don’t, or deliberately lie about), combined with a very high covid infection rate, means I will be avoiding Nottingham for a while.
Definitely seeing a lot of interest in my busking and instruments from all sorts of people. Seeing a few more people out busking, but, most of the time, this causes little hassle, especially as, with only a few exceptions, they all seem willing to chat and share the space sensibly (though I still think many of them are too reliant on amplification, and often don’t know how to pitch the volume and voice/instrument balance right, resulting in a less than optimum sound, and sometimes a really atrocious one).
Another thing I have noticed is that, as well as people avoiding larger centres (due to home-working/loss of jobs/avoiding large groups of people), they also seem to be avoiding peak times and days, meaning that the footfall on peak periods is reduced, but increased for other periods. This means that, should you be busking you will notice fewer really-high or really-low taking days, I think. Of course, it is still very variable how many people tip you and by how much. It also means that I have had some of my best times in odd places on what would previously have been off-peak times, and had no other buskers around that day.
Although I do believe cash is still king generally, I have been trialling the new busk.co ‘tap-to-tip’ board for contactless. This hasn’t generated any direct tips, though several have taken down the web address, which has generated at least one tip, and there is some evidence that the very presence of amounts on the board may be slightly increasing the size of my cash tips! I believe now is the time to trial this, as more people are going around without any cash, but I don’t see it as quite there yet.