Busking: music for free

Before the train doors slid shut, two young people hopped on to the train, and the girl, dressed in short-sleeves and long boots on a gloomy winter day, broke the silence in the cabin:

“Hi everyone, we’re a newly formed band and we are passionate about music. We are traveling around singing and making music and trying to get as many people listen to our songs as we can. We are now going to sing to you a few songs and we hope you will like our stuff. As we are still starting out — you can see that our guitar is in a sorrowful state — we’re in need of money to get ourselves on track with better equipments, so any change that you can spare is welcomed! Here goes our song,” the girl introduced themselves, then pulled out a drum, and the duo started playing.


Their self-promotion on the tube is touching to see: fueled by passion, the young duo are working hard towards their dreams. They are starting out and have little to back them up in their music careers bar their resourcefulness, and they are bold and self-assured when reaching out to their potential audience.  There is a lot of competition in the music industry, and London is never short of young and talented musicians, but they are willing to try. I once heard of a friend who says, if you keep on trying and failing, there is very little chance that you will not succeed.

Set up in 2003, London Underground’s busking scheme gives talented musicians an opportunity to obtain a licence to perform in metro stations. Other than commuters giving money to these musicians in support of their artistic career, the scheme has attracted various big-name sponsors.  Today there are over 400 buskers playing on the London Underground, offering free, original music to 3 million commuters in the city. While some continue to see buskers as doing it for the donations, there are many who genuinely appreciate the chance to listen to original music as they travel to and from work, and the scheme has made it easier for discovering local talents. I have listened to many of their songs.

Small and beautiful. Small is beautiful. There is a world for small independent artists in every city.

One thought on “Busking: music for free

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s