After London Lockdown, buskers were forced to change their professional life. But the effect is not satisfactory.
From 5 November, new national restrictions were introduced in the UK to curb the dramatic increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19. This means that artists who rely on busking have to change their venues. However, their difficulties go beyond that.
Agustin Kafka is a London busker who is very good at singing pop songs. “Busking is my main income and I sing four times a week,” he said.
Before London Lockdown, he sang in the streets three times. But sometimes he has to communicate with the police. “My favourite venue is Piccadilly Circus. I love it very much.”
However, for the sake of public health the police had to remind him that he could not give concerts in public, especially now. For Agustin, the Lockdown had a serious effect on his life. “But I am not the exception. Everyone’s life has been interfered. We all have to change something.” He said.
Since the new restrictions were announced that day he has stopped busking. This is not only policy restrictions, but also because of the loss of audiences and health problems. But he can’t just wait.
“I’m using YouTube. It relieves the pressure on my income and allows my fans to watch me in time.” He said. However, for some technical reasons his playing sounds are quite different from street shows.
“I haven’t had a lot of hits on my videos, and I don’t know how to fix that,” Agustin said helplessly. He thinks busking is better for promoting his work.
“If I don’t do something, people won’t see my YouTube channel. And strangers won’t easily pay money to support me.” He says YouTube’s strengths and weaknesses are obvious. However, Agustin had no other choice. He doesn’t know how long that will last.
David Reischel is a street performer who lives in London and he often sings in Leicester Square. He had the same problem. Because of COVID-19, His revenue and his audience have dropped dramatically.
He has also uploaded his work to YouTube. But David thinks there is a big difference between the internet and the real world.
“I think the feedback that people give you in the real world is more valuable. Because there are real people here. I can feel them,” David said.
“Although my video views are not low. that’s not nearly as good as me Busking,” He analyzed. “There are millions of videos on YouTube. It’s hard for my work to stand out. When someone plays on the street or in a bar, people enjoy it and give instant feedback to the artist. However on the web it can be a long process. It takes longer to understand audience preferences and engagement.”
The Internet is no substitute for busking. However, the new restrictions limit people’s social interaction to apps and websites.
This is a huge blow to street art and artists alike. After losing spectators and venues, they will have to rely on their own to survive the winter.