This week saw the likes of Bono, Hozier, Kodaline, The Script, Ronan Keating and more take part in a Dublin tradition of busking in the city for charity on Christmas Eve. They aren’t the only famous faces caught busking recently either, with Madonna, Courtney Barnett and Steven Tyler all spotted on the streets lately.
But the big question is: how much do stars actually make from such impromptu performances? Do they get easily spotted or ignored amongst the urban hustle and bustle? See a list of the biggest busking winners and losers below.
Justin Bieber: loose change
Prior to being able to pick and choose whether or not he would be at Number One at Christmas, Biebs was just another kid in Canada with a guitar and an unfortunate haircut trying to make an extra bit of pocket money in his spare time. In his pre-fame days, he would take to the streets in his hometown of Stratford, Ontario to try and get noticed. After only earning what appears to be small change, Bieber later made the smart decision to upload his music to Youtube instead, attracting the attention of Usher and others. Wise move.
Erykah Badu: £2.25
Grammy award-winning singer Erykah Badu made just $3.60 (£2.25) busking on the streets of New York late last year, having said that she “always wanted to see what it would be like to sing for money on the streets”. Difficult, it seems. Perhaps the problem was that Badu was using her instantly recognisable trademark hat to collect the cash rather than actually wearing it…
Nile Rodgers: £12.30
What the difference a day makes: one night Chic’s Nile Rodgers was playing to tens of thousands at London’s Hyde Park (all of whom probably paid quite a packet to be there) then fast-forward to the morning after and he finds himself busking at the London’s Southbank only making “enough for a nice breakfast”. “Though I had no voice from screaming during last night’s show, I started to draw a crowd when I sang ‘Aw Freak Out!’,” the guitarist explained.
Olly Murs: £19.56
Less than twenty quid is pretty low for an X-Factor host to make in London’s tourist trap of Covent Garden, even if the latest series drew in less viewers than Antiques Roadshow. Instead, Murs took to the streets under the very hairy disguise of an unkempt busker named “Frankie”, recorded for Nick Grimshaw’s Secret Busker segment for his Radio 1 show.
Black Francis: £21.24
Earning just a bit more than Murs, Pixies’ Black Francis made just over £20 in Glasgow during 2008 whilst taking part in the ‘British Busking Challenge’ for BBC Two’s Culture Show. The entire experience perhaps convinced Frank Black that a Pixies reunion, which took place only a few years later, would probably be more fruitful than continuing the busking grind.
Sign up for the newsletter
Dirty Pretty Things: £30.58
Despite Camden Town being Libertines heartland, Carl Barat and co only managed to raise just over 30 quid when taking part in The Culture Show‘s ‘British Busking Challenge’ in 2008. Afraid that his bandmates would spend their winnings on beer (or so he said), Libs drummer Gary made a runner with the earnings. It’s always the quiet ones, eh.
The Charlatans: £145.43
The Charlatans were a band more rewarded in their honorary hometown of Manchester when braving the weather and busking under umbrellas amid a huge downpour. Making almost £150 is probably not as surprising as the fact that nobody got electrocuted.
Tom Jones: £460
All hail the newly-crowned King Of The Buskers, Tom Jones, who raised a whopping £460 for Cancer Research when belting out some of his classics at London’s Southbank in 2008. Watch out for the delighted woman dancing along in the video below. Truly heartwarming stuff.