Busking: Struggles and opportunities in our modern-day society

Performer at Pitt Street Mall. Credit: MusicFeeds.

Story Angle

Busking is a beautiful and spontaneous form of art that enriches Sydney’s streets, yet buskers are seemingly disappearing. In my feature article I want to explore why Sydney’s busking conditions are dire: due to council regulations, mistrust of buskers often based on cultural beliefs, the public’s opinion about buskers’ talent and work ethic as well as the fact that Sydney is moving towards becoming a cashless economy where people don’t have spare change no matter how much they enjoy the show. The feature will however end on a lighter and more positive note, mentioning ideas of how busking can be revolutionised to better suit our modern society as well as what measures are currently being taken to celebrate the Sydney busking scene, such as the Busk for a Cure festival on May 26th in Newtown (which makes the article timely and relevant).

Publication & Target User Group

I will pitch this story to “Good Weekend” magazine, which is inserted in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age every Saturday, attracting an even male/female readership of 1 million, entailing “stories that define the times we live in and are essential reading for those seeking to be on top of culture and debate“. I believe my story fits this description perfectly, as busking is a matter of culture and debate, being a somewhat controversial but nevertheless culturally valuable and enriching profession, and the story angle (modern struggles of busking) is focused precisely on „the times we live in“.

Narrative Genre & Sources of Information

I chose the narrative genre of a feature because it allows me to focus on central characters and let them tell their stories. The idea is to follow one or two buskers around on a day when they go perform on the street, “a day in the life”-style, and interview them about their personal experiences, opinions and ideas. This means that my story angle may vary depending on what I learn from talking to and observing them. I will also interview Helmut Uhlmann, the founder and organiser of Busk for a Cure, as a best practice example of supporting and encouraging local busking.

Furthermore I will try to get some statistics on the Sydney busking scene from the Sydney City Council, in order to see whether the scene is expanding or not, as well as what people’s opinions were on busking when a discussion was opened to the public in 2017.

Lastly, I will work with some online news articles that talk about new ideas for busking, such as busking for bitcoin or auditioning processes.

Ideas for multimedia/hypertext/interactivity

Apart from using hyperlinks to direct readers to news sources, I want to work with pictures and videos of the buskers I interview, following them from set-up, to street performance, to finally the festival. For interactivity, I would also like to integrate a Street View Google Map for the Busk for a Cure festival, which lets the reader see the surroundings of the busker and see the audience from their point of view.

 

Anna Natlacen
About Anna Natlacen 4 Articles
Anna Natlacen is a Masters student of Digital Communication and Culture at the University of Sydney. In her free time she is a musician and brunch-enthusiast.

3 Comments

  1. Hi Anna, it’s nice to see that you’re finally pursuing the busking story. I think the story will be quite interesting and different from others.

    I would suggest for you to use a gif image in the story. I feel like a having a moving image in the story (without the need to click a play button) will give a different atmosphere to the story. You could create a gif of the buskers playing the guitar, piano, or whatever musical instrument that they use.

    Lastly, I think you could improve your proposal by putting a hyperlink into a story about buskers to warm up the reader before reading your full feature story. Good luck on your “day-in-the-life” buskers interview. I hope you find some interesting insights.

  2. Hi Anna!

    This is a very clear pitch, made newsworthy (and timely!) with the upcoming, Busk for a Cure Festival. In my experience, people don’t usually have an issue with buskers as long as they don’t feel like their personal space is being invaded. Our cashless society does mean people are less likely to donate coinage but it also becomes a handy excuse.

    I recommend experimenting with audio: recording interviewee stories or producing a mashup of diegetic sound and music. Digeridoo remixes, violins, announcements and crowds will assist in the storytelling and enhance audience engagement by inserting listeners into the desired time and place.

    Cheers,

    Liv

  3. Hi, I must say this is quite a interesting story idea to work on. I m personally thinking about this phenomenon as well. But I haven’t got any clue to work on that nor I ain’t got any lead to find a proper interviewee for my story. However, since you chose this topic, I am glad to share what I been thinking about the story. For your work, I might have three points for you to consider.

    First, the angle you chose to write I feel is better for a commentary where you personal point of view or the statement can be made and advocated. As you wrote in you post, your work wants to ‘explore why Sydney’s busking conditions are dire’ and shines the light on ‘ideas of how busking can be revolutionised to better suit our modern society’. If so, then I feel this would be better in a form of commentary. In addition, the techniques of employing statistics you mention in your post, would be of great help for a commentary.

    Second, if you want to write the story in a feature style, I feel you might want to work on one or two individuals. One or two really powerful and affecting stories. Let the stories speak and make them heard. I feel that in this way could be successful. Start from a small piece of the story then gradually broaden it to a larger picture and give it depth and meaning. For instance, start from you walking on the street and meet those people. Put you as the first person in the story, talking about how you feel about this. Then explore the rest of the picture by inviting their voice in the story.

    Third, this is a really interesting topic. Its uniqueness will be more influencing if with videos or audios applied. I recommend a profile feature with audios or videos. Instead of using audios or videos of interview, I feel it would be much better if the story use a attention catching audio as an intro, and starts with your perspective of the story.

    I don’t know if my suggestion could help you with your work. But if my suggestion does give you some ideas, I’d be glad.

    Cheers.

    OEliver

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