Nobody knows why some people want to perform. There are many possible answers, such as fame and money, but that doesn’t always apply to buskers. There’s almost no guarantee of success, and the initial returns range from low to non-existent. So, why do buskers do what they do even if it’s one of the most illogical things in the world to do?
Let’s talk about what a busker is, first; the simplest explanation for this is that a busker is another name for a street performer. The term ‘busking ’first came into regular use in Great Britain during the 1860s, but the term’s origins lie more to the south with Spain. The word busker came from ‘buscar’, which means ‘to seek’.
Becoming a street performer was one of the few ways musicians without wealthy connections could get work in the days before recording equipment. The only other way for such people to make a profit is to create devices that produced music, such as music boxes, barrel organs, and piano rolls. The life of a musician back then was harsh, though some would say that not much has changed. But, why would people choose such a life today?
The rewards of being a busker aren’t obvious, but once they find an audience many of them wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. A classic example comes from an act at Buskers Sentosa known as The Amazing Drumming Monkeys.
The act is a duo of professional drummers that found it difficult getting anyone to notice their talent despite being professional drummers. They needed something fresh, and added a couple of stuffed monkeys to the mix, turning them into an instant hit. The Amazing Drumming Monkeys regularly receive invites to festivals and applause from pleased fans after years of getting nothing.
Sometimes it’s the payoff at the end that makes all the difficulties that came before it all worthwhile.