Downside of Busking As a Profession

Story/Video posted March 18, 2020 in Arts & Entertainment by Alicia Chiang


State College, Pa.-- Jonathan Michael Bojan had been busking for 9 years before resign from the field.

Hoping to improve his song improvisation skill, Bojan started busking after college graduation. To him, busking is a quick way to experiment with new ideas with very tangible feedback--by cash.

He had performed in cities over eastern part of the US, including Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Nashville, Toledo, Nashville, and of course, State College. He spent most of his money on Megabus tickets, then dumpster-dived and used Couchsurfing to lower his expenses.

After all these years, what Bojan found out was "the chaos of busking". While making $500 in two hours seems "neat", working hours for nothing also happens regularly. The result of the same hour of music varies from time to place.

"There's always experimentation, there's always variability, you never know what the crowds are gonna be like, you never know if your new ideas gonna go over really well, and to even get the crowds and your ideas to happen in the same time are just so stressful," Bojan said.

Bojan shared about his experience of making $200 in an afternoon near Union Station, NYC.

"It was a crazy life. It just drained me." Bojan said. "It took a lot out of me. I was not eating very well. It wasn't really going anywhere."

After going through some personal changes, Bojan stopped performing in late 2019.

Now, Bojan's main income comes from teaching private lessons of different instruments and songwriting. He is also running a Youtube channel, making videos for different clients, and composition.

"I think I get to do more, better creative stuff now living this way," Bojan said.

However, Bojan still holds his gears for busking. He expect himself to go back in field with lighter equipments and more mobility in future.

"I would never say I'm officially given up busking. It's just not something I'm doing right now." Bojan said.