Live Music for the passing public

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
A friend who lives in the London area knows of my interest in Brass Bands and Bands in general. On their travels they came across a Band playing at Paddington Station, what a great out-reach to remind the public that there is such a thing as live music played by (no offence intended) ordinary people.

YouTube gives this video of Great Western Paddington Band with (Brass) Soloist : .

Enjoy, great effort by seemingly ordinary people with other seemingly ordinary people being happily entertained by, I think, perfectly imperfect music.
 

trumpetb

Member
Late to this I know.

This is just not allowed.

Railway stations, Malls, Public streets managed by private companies and public streets outside bars and nightclubs do not tolerate live music under any circumstances unless special permission is granted in advance.

There is no such thing as live music for the passing public that is not heavily regulated.

I have been performing for many years and I know where it is allowed and where it is not allowed.

It does not matter how good you are even the likes of Wayne Bergeron would be frog marched out of the location and physically ejected if he played even a single note.

Do not hold out any false hopes here. If any member wants to try it I am available for comment and guidance to prevent disappointment.
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
Late to this I know.

This is just not allowed.

Railway stations, Malls, Public streets managed by private companies and public streets outside bars and nightclubs do not tolerate live music under any circumstances unless special permission is granted in advance.

There is no such thing as live music for the passing public that is not heavily regulated.

I have been performing for many years and I know where it is allowed and where it is not allowed.

It does not matter how good you are even the likes of Wayne Bergeron would be frog marched out of the location and physically ejected if he played even a single note.

Do not hold out any false hopes here. If any member wants to try it I am available for comment and guidance to prevent disappointment.

Here in the UK we have a long established tradition of playing out-doors and in public places, sometimes permission is needed but it’s normally a non-issue and most companies are happy to have you playing on their premises - it attracts users. This forum used to be pretty much UK based but now we have active members from North America where the rules (laws) are often different.

Paddington is a Train Station in London (which is in the UK) and Great Western is the name of a train company. What Great Western Paddington Band is doing is done with the permissions required and their website can be found here: Home
 
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trumpetb

Member
Hi 2nd Tenor,

I am in UK too and I am happy to hear that Great Western Paddington Band is gaining permission to perform prior to performances, I had no doubt they do.

When I have enquired for permission to play in several main railway stations in a large city in UK however I was always told that there was no possibility of any performances under any circumstances so the Great Western Paddington Band would be totally out of luck here.

It is, in my experience, very rare for any organisations to give permission for performances by musicians.

The idea that musicians can simply begin to play to entertain the public in any public space is a false one in the UK. This does however depend upon the area and the local rules.

My daily activity is entertaining the public for several hours each day. I know when and where it can be done, hard won experience.

What I am saying here is the public are simply not being allowed open access to publicly played music it is severely censored and limited but this should not be the case.

I believe we are both of the same opinion, and that is that the public deserves to have access to free live music made by ordinary people and I do my best to provide free music on demand for members of the public when they ask me for it and I will help other musicians to do the same if I can.

My concern is that members might conclude that it is straightforward and easy to do, that all you do is just grab an instrument and go somewhere and play, but really it is not and it can be downright dangerous.

They may well have to endure being grabbed and manhandled by security staff, being physically ejected from public areas that they have a right to be in, being threatened with prosecution, all of which I have endured while trying to entertain the public where I am legally allowed to do so.

I have been entertaining the public in public streets and public areas for the last 12 years and I have been manhandled several times by security staff, I have had several fights, I have been threatened and been punched many times. I have had my trumpet smashed back into my face a couple of times while playing, This is not something for the faint hearted and not something to be done lightly, it is not like appearing on stage which I have done many times it is quite different.

As I said earlier I am ready to help advise any member who wishes to have a go how to do it safely and have fun doing it.

I am here to help.
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
I think that we’re coming at this topic from two slightly different angles and then confusing the two.

A group of people turning up and playing an organised event in an area which the public have free access too is normally fine and each year many bands do so - and have for decades years - when they play Christmas music. On the other hand an uninvited individual turning up somewhere and playing can be viewed as both a noisy and an uncontrolled nuisance, particularly so when busking and particularly so when loud. If someone finds themselves in conflict with authorities then the best thing for them to do is to pack-up, understand any objections as best they can (without arguing) and leave the area; by all means seek to safely return - at some later date - with all of the necessary and documented permissions.

What might be helpful is for you (trumpetb) to list the objections that you have encountered and then how you were able or not to work around them, sharing knowledge is good. What’s now your successful practise in identifying and managing to (without conflict) play to the public? Do you seek to raise funds when you play and if so is that money for your personal use or passed on to charities?

If an individual wants to busk - which is slightly different to the original post - then the Musicians’ Union might be able to help them do so, see: Advice for busking musicians
 
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trumpetb

Member
Great reply second tenor,

This is a long one.

I think we do have a slight misunderstanding and I will try to resolve that here at least in part.

First a little about me and my playing to resolve your uncertainties about what I am doing and if I am busking and earning money or working professionally in some way or being a nuisance or upsetting customers of the locations I visit.

I walk with my instrument to various places including in the city, I do this to practice and also to play music for members of the public if they ask me to do so.

My practice is a very high quality and audiences dont hear me practicing they hear beautiful music.

The public have a hunger for live music and they love the music I perform. I practice pieces and phrases when nobody is seemingly around and yet I am still heard. I practiced a piece yesterday in an empty street and several people inside an adjacent building erupted into cheering and applause when I finished I had no idea they had heard me.

I do not busk I do not demand money I do not play next to groups or individuals unless they ask me to first and I expect no payment nor demand any and when asked to play I often ask permission of all those nearby who can hear me before I play to make sure they all agree before playing.

I have contacted the Music License PPL PRS and they have ruled that no license is required for me to do what I do and they have given me a written statement to that effect.

I should add that I have the ability to play very quietly, I recall playing for a table of 8 outside a public house and after playing a few melodies the adjacent table of 6 were totally unaware that I had played anything when I asked if I was disturbing them.

So I am not selling music I am not Busking I am not being loud or playing in an objectionable way I am not being a nuisance and I am breaking no laws or copyright laws.

The public every day tells me I have made their day or their evening. Sometimes an entire street some 300 or more people will demand that I play and the place erupts into cheering and applause when I do. Residents in the city have told me many times that they do not want me to stop what I do. Everyone loves what I do and no offence is caused to anyone by what I do, apart from a few I will mention later.

Despite not ever demanding any money often people give me money and insist that I take it and I dont refuse it, it is a mark of their respect and enjoyment and it would be disrespectful to refuse and would leave them unhappy. My "takings" only amount to a few pounds in a day anyway and I dont care if I get nothing. I dont do it for the money.

The only people who object to my playing are the security on the door of bars and managed areas. When they do object and silence me the customers right next to them who love my playing and want me to play argue with them and demand that I be allowed to play but the security insist on silencing me so I walk away.

One security guard employed by a bar stopped me when I was stood in the street outside the bar after the bars customers insisted that I play for them. The security guard said I was not allowed to stand still on a public footpath I had to keep walking and standing still on a footpath is an offence, but if I wanted to pay the bar £4000 they would allow me to play music. The customers all were clamouring for me to play for them and the security were trying to extort money from me. This is the level of ignorance and stupidity that we musicians face playing in public.

You are right of course, the answer is to simply leave, but the public then argue with me, telling me to ignore the security so they can enjoy their stay at the bar. I can give you hundreds of examples or unreasonable or illegal censorship carried out by security staff but I think I made my point.

Now your request for how to get round all this.

Observation and local knowledge gained through experience is the first strategy, knowing where security guards are active and which days they are on the door.

Example, at one bar, I am known to the staff and they love what I do and they regard my playing as a desirable attraction for the bar and its customers and they encourage me to play outside their bar. I often go in the bar to buy drinks for myself and other customers that I know. Recently when attempting to enter that bar to buy a cocacola the door security blocked me and said I am barred, I asked why and he said he had seen me play music outside so I am barred, I said I am a customer trying to buy a drink, he didnt care. No amount of persuasion would allow me in and he wouldnt consult any staff in the bar to get their opinion. This kind of thing is very common.

On a different bar the security loves me and encourages buys me coffee and we get on great, he introduced me recently to the Mayor of the city and I played for him in a personal performance and he totally loved it.

Knowing the security staff and what they will accept stops you having to confront problems.

Avoid all privately managed areas. No car parks no train stations no malls no roped off private areas.

Malls are particularly difficult. While being physically ejected from a mall many years ago for practicing a few quiet but challenging phrases during shopping I explained I am a customer in the mall and asked what customers are allowed to do. When they refused to answer I asked can a customer sing to themselves they replied NO I then asked can a customer hum to themselves they replied NO.

Total silence is all that is allowed from customers in malls according to these mall security guards.

Avoid all buildings and shops, having said that I have been asked to perform in supermarkets many times by the management of the supermarket and been complemented after the performance so local knowledge trumps general rules.

Generally avoid playing for anyone who is demanding "play us a song" They often dont even want music they just want to feel in control. If people are walking past and ask for music I often say stay and listen but they often are not interested and dont even stop to listen so I let them go on their way.

For those who are insistent that I play some obscure tune I have never heard or heard of the reply from me "how much are you offering" or "that will be 100 pounds please" usually shuts them up. I dont want the money I use that to stop their demands.

For those who make a grab for the instrument and many do, and they say "give me a go on that" I say no and if they argue with me I demand £1000. Expect a refusal to hand your instrument over to a complete stranger to be met with abuse.

Do not ever hand an instrument over to a stranger no matter who they are, I knew a busker who had a guitar in the city, and a man in a suit looking really well groomed said he is a guitarist as well and politely asked if he could play on the buskers guitar, the busker made an exception and handed it to the man who immediately ran round the next corner and smashed the guitar against a wall and ran off.

You have to be ready for anything.

In my case several times during playing a passer by just hit the instrument powerfully into my face in an attempt to smash my teeth. I was ready for that and prevented any tooth loss or damage to my chops. I unfortunately missed the guy who snuk up behind me as I was playing and screamed into my left ear from 6 inches away.

On another occasion recently a man walked past as I was playing and told me to shut up, I replied telling him to shove that, then he turned on me and started punching me in the head. Fortunately it didnt hurt and the instrument was safe.

I recommend all musicians who want to have a go being constantly on the look out for drunks and aggressive people to protect yourself from.

Awareness of surroundings is the best defence and simply leaving the area if you feel uneasy is the best approach.

So now you may be asking if it is so much trouble why do you do it.

In short I have a thousand times more wonderful moments than I have bad moments. Less than one percent turn bad.

Kids love hearing live music adults love hearing live music I have been told many times that I made peoples evening I have had people dancing in the street many times to my music I have been told by one lady that she was in deep depression and then heard my music float on the breeze and I instantly changed her mood and made her much happier and she begged me never to stop playing.

I generate golden memories for myself and my audiences so how can I stop.

I have to add that some security staff are great and encourage me but the bars change the staff often and unless you build a rapport with a guard or doorman you can assume they will not allow you to play anywhere near the bar.

Simply walk away if there is any possible conflict.

So who am I to say all this? I am a local celebrity I was given the name Trumpetman many years ago and it stuck. I have a large following and a fanbase although I refuse to use social media, modesty prohibits me from making other claims, I have had growing fame for many years but I resent this fame and dont want it.

The public often say "I will make you famous" my truthful reply for years has been "I already am"

Real fame hangs round your neck like a chain and gives you great responsibility. We are an example to the people, we are watched and recorded, and have to hold ourselves to the highest standards while sometimes being treated very badly. That is a heavy responsibility particularly when we influence children by our actions and one thoughtless action might lead to unforseen problems.

So that is it, choose where you perform wisely and you will have no issues choose unwisely and you may face problems.
 
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Jack E

Well-Known Member
This is just not allowed. Railway stations, Malls, Public streets managed by private companies and public streets outside bars and nightclubs do not tolerate live music under any circumstances unless special permission is granted in advance.
There is no such thing as live music for the passing public that is not heavily regulated.
It does not matter how good you are even the likes of Wayne Bergeron would be frog marched out of the location and physically ejected if he played even a single note.
But what about all the railway stations in London which have pianos clearly marked "I'm yours - play me!" that anyone can walk up to and play? If you look on Youtube, you'll find masses of video footage of people doing just that:-

None of this matches what you've said in your post.

With best regards,
Jack
 

trumpetb

Member
But what about all the railway stations in London which have pianos clearly marked "I'm yours - play me!" that anyone can walk up to and play? If you look on Youtube, you'll find masses of video footage of people doing just that:-

None of this matches what you've said in your post.

With best regards,
Jack
You are quite right Jack that is now the case and is a very recent change since penning those words, but I claim that it may not in reality contradict my position and earlier statements.

Over the last 12 years the situation locally has changed and changed again.

At the major railway stations locally to me at first there were indeed pianos sited with messages "play me" on them, and I was used to seeing the travellers stopping and playing them.

Then they were all removed and empty spaces remained for a very long time. Any attempt to make music in the station during this period was greeted with station staff removing the musician and silencing them.

This coincided with the music shop who placed the piano going through a difficult financial period and was likely to have been driven I believe by the music shop terminating any agreements to pay the station for the right to site the piano on the station grounds.

During this time all music was totally banned on the station despite upon occasion travellers imploring me to play as I passed through the station with my instrument. The station staff security and porters when asked all insisted that no music is allowed on any station property at all, and that strongly worded and emphatic total ban on making music is the basis of my remarks.

Why would they suddenly ban music when the pianos disappeared after they had allowed music when pianos were sited there if the music cost them nothing and entertained the travellers. The only explanation that occurs to me is they allowed music where it made them money and banned music where it did not make them a penny.

Over the last few days I have travelled by train to Cumbria, and at that station where there did not used to be a piano, I was surprised to discover that a piano appeared and was sitting in the main line station but with signs on it advertising the major music / piano shop who placed it there.

My belief is that rather than a reversal of the policy banning music played by musicians in the station it is simply a financial concession and a money earner for the station like the fast food restaurants.

In other words the piano shop has leased the right to place a piano there as a form of advertising and the station makes a nice profit from the arrangement.

Any passing musician playing on an instrument and not on the piano is likely to be viewed in the same way as a passing member of the public selling hot dogs without a concession and immediately stopped as it is not part of any agreed concession and therefore is not allowed although I havent challenged them on this yet.

I will give an update if I have an opportunity to discover the truth on this.

I dont think the appearance of pianos on the stations contradicts my remarks I think if anything it confirmd them.

Thanks for
 
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trumpetb

Member
I have just recalled many years ago that rail staff at a major station prevented me from playing my instrument while stood next to a piano which was provided by a local music shop for passing travellers to play on, the reason they gave was some lame excuse about only piano playing being allowed on station property by the management.

I had forgotten that incident thanks for reminding me, it was way back in the distant past.

Long ago I gave up beating my head against a brick wall when faced with such clearly made up rules and move on to other places where such rules do not exist.

These security staff are afraid of getting a bad annual assessment from their manager and no pay rise so they knee jerk ban everything unless there is an instruction to allow it.

This is why music is banned almost everywhere security guards exist.

If they allow music they might get complaints that they are not doing their job if they ban music they get no complaints, it is as simple as that.

Another recollection I have just had is upon entering a major store to do some shopping, I was spotted carrying my trumpet by security staff and told by them I could not enter the store, when asked why they said I had been banned from the entire city.

It was news to me but they insisted I was not allowed to be anywhere in the city they didnt say why. I have a hundred stories like this believe me I am basing my opinions on decades of meeting bans and resistance to playing music anywhere security guards exist we havent scratched the surface of it yet.

Like when in a heavy rain downpour I sheltered in a doorway with other passers by and was asked to play for them to entertain those sheltering, so I did, and moments later a security guard grabbed me by my shoulders and physically threw me out into the rain telling me clear off and not come back.

They dont treat other customers and citizens this way, a musical instrument says unwanted criminal or beggar to security guards more clearly than filthy clothes and asking for money would.

I have been doing this for over 12 years maybe a fair bit more and 5 to 8 hour days playing in the street sometimes over 12 hours with breaks for regular work. I guess I have had 1000 performances, - 40 hours x 52 weeks x 12 years that is that is 24,000 hours doing this what I dont know about this is not worth knowing to be honest.

If it is 10,000 hours to mastery what does 24,000 hours doing this make me.
 
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Jack E

Well-Known Member
I have just recalled many years ago that rail staff at a major station prevented me from playing my instrument while stood next to a piano which was provided by a local music shop for passing travellers to play on, the reason they gave was some lame excuse about only piano playing being allowed on station property by the management.

I had forgotten that incident thanks for reminding me, it was way back in the distant past.

Long ago I gave up beating my head against a brick wall when faced with such clearly made up rules and move on to other places where such rules do not exist.

These security staff are afraid of getting a bad annual assessment from their manager and no pay rise so they knee jerk ban everything unless there is an instruction to allow it.

This is why music is banned almost everywhere security guards exist.

If they allow music they might get complaints that they are not doing their job if they ban music they get no complaints, it is as simple as that.

Another recollection I have just had is upon entering a major store to do some shopping, I was spotted carrying my trumpet by security staff and told by them I could not enter the store, when asked why they said I had been banned from the entire city.

It was news to me but they insisted I was not allowed to be anywhere in the city they didnt say why. I have a hundred stories like this believe me I am basing my opinions on decades of meeting bans and resistance to playing music anywhere security guards exist we havent scratched the surface of it yet.

Like when in a heavy rain downpour I sheltered in a doorway with other passers by and was asked to play for them to entertain those sheltering, so I did, and moments later a security guard grabbed me by my shoulders and physically threw me out into the rain telling me clear off and not come back.

They dont treat other customers and citizens this way, a musical instrument says unwanted criminal or beggar to security guards more clearly than filthy clothes and asking for money would.

I have been doing this for over 12 years maybe a fair bit more and 5 to 8 hour days playing in the street sometimes over 12 hours with breaks for regular work. I guess I have had 1000 performances, - 40 hours x 52 weeks x 12 years that is that is 24,000 hours doing this what I dont know about this is not worth knowing to be honest.

If it is 10,000 hours to mastery what does 24,000 hours doing this make me.
trumpetb - how can security staff ban you from an entire city? I can accept that security staff have the right to eject you from private property - but they have NO legal authority outside of those premises. What police state was this in?

With best regards,
Jack
 

trumpetb

Member
trumpetb - how can security staff ban you from an entire city? I can accept that security staff have the right to eject you from private property - but they have NO legal authority outside of those premises. What police state was this in?

With best regards,
Jack
Of course it was ludicrous and laughable but this is the mentality of the people we have to deal with.

They actually appeared to believe this nonsense.
 

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