Friday 16th December, Devonshire Tunnel, 08:00 -10:00, Martin Place, 11:30-12:30
In my quest to try to earn some larger sums of dosh I thought I’d try rush hour in the Tunnel. More people equals more money, right? Trying to remember the times when I’d been packed like a sardine on the trains I thought 8am might be a good time to get the rush of people.
When I arrived at the tunnel, however, I was dismayed to see other buskers already in action. Walking down the tunnel I passed a boy sleeping with his head between his knees, little bits of art for sale in front of him, an electric guitar-playing clown, another guitarist playing the didgeridoo and finally some chanters sitting together on a mat laid out on the floor, no doubt hoping to spread their alternative lifestyle.
Walking back down the tunnel I decided to that there was room for one more right on the edge of the tunnel. I doubted that the boy would mind unless it was because I disturbed his slumber. People seemed to be more generous today, unlike Melbourne Cup day. Once again a kind woman donated a $5 note. I kept waiting for her to take her change out but no, off she went.
One thing that I didn’t notice was a rush hour. The ebb and flow of people was pretty much the same as any other time, crowds of people being dumped by the trains interspersed with gaps. So I passed the time, quite comfortable with performing in the Tunnel now.
As I’ve mentioned before the acoustics are quite good down there. It was easy to hear the guitar-toting clown thirty metres down the tunnel. I quickly noted that he was singing to a Christmas theme. In fact, it seemed he was on repeat, continuously singing ‘Hark the herald angels sing’. Again and again and again. Perhaps it was the only carol in his repetoire.
Now, the beauty of the Tunnel is that you screw up as often as you like since your audience is constantly moving on and being renewed. The corollary of this is that you can also sing the same song over and over again and they’ll never get bored of it. Only your fellow buskers will.
I’m not sure how he didn’t drive himself insane (or maybe he was) but he would have me. Luckily all I had to do was play my own song to drown him out. A benefit of playing the one song, I suppose, is that you don’t ever have to pause to think about what song to play next. Very efficient, that clown. But then again he’s probably making more than I am.
After my two hours, I wandered on up to Martin Place where I was to meet a friend for lunch. Having time to burn I thought I’d try busking near the Lindt Cafe. The open space was not so much a problem this time as it was the paucity of people. All the office workers flood the area at lunch time but in the hour before that there really isn’t much foot traffic to speak of. Couple that with the spacious walkway that is Martin Place and anybody walking by tends to give you a wide berth. I think that is the advantage of busking in the tunnel; people are funnelled right past your face.
I made absolutely no money at all there. It was just me singing to the wide blue sky. I noticed a group standing outside the Channel 7 building for a while and one of them came up to ask if she could play my guitar. I obliged and May played something she’d composed for her sister’s wedding, singing along almost under her breath. Props to her. Maybe I’ll be composing my own stuff some day too. After that my friend came and I donned my cap again. Still I’d made plenty enough from the Tunnel to cover my lunch.
2 hours earnings (Tunnel): $10.30 (I’ve now made enough to cover my busking hat!)
1 hours earnings (Martin Place): $0.00