What makes a good spot to perform on as a street performer, or "busker?" There are several layers to that question. I will address the interpersonal human etiquette side of performing spots, or "pitches," as they are called in street performer lingo, in another article. This is about the actual physicality of choosing street performer spots. For a successful show, one needs a spot where traffic passes, to gather a crowd. But the spot must also not interfere with the businesses around you, or police will be invoked. Obviously, the spot needs to be situated in a way that the sidewalk is maintained as a functioning passageway, while the area around the spot must have the capacity to hold an audience. You need to think, "Could this spot hold about 30 people without interrupting sidewalk flow or access to the doorways of the surrounding businesses?" This may sound difficult, and looking for good spots does consume a lot of street performers' time, but it can be done. You'll find a set back doorway of a closed business. Or some placement of planters, benches and payphones that you can exploit as some kind of street performer feng shui.
The next consideration is sound, the noise around you. Setting up next to loud construction work is not a good idea, for example. I used to busk on the Santa Cruz Mall, and this electric band would play for the outdoor seating in front of the Cooper House. I was in the middle of a great set, with a great crowd, when this loud amplified music drowned me out! From then on, I never played around lunchtime, which sucked. That one band took up six plus blocks of airspace, never thinking how many buskers that put out of commission, I am sure. You also do not want to perform too close to another busker as to distract from their act. Some businesses blare radios out of their establishments to attract customers, and sometimes they will turn them off while you play music, if you ask. If you can have a good working relationship with other buskers and the merchants, that can minimize having a relationship with the police. It is usually merchants who call the police on buskers. Everyone agrees street performing, or "busking," is hard work. Someone once said about acting, that they do not pay you for the acting, they pay you for the waiting around. That is true in busking, too. Performing talent is about 30% of a good street act. The ability to persevere under harsh conditions, to battle police and merchants over air space, to assert free speech rights at every corner as they are questioned, to spontaneously gather and hold a crowd, and to keep up with hecklers, makes the profession a die-hard one, at best. You spend little time on musical rehearsal, as compared to holding your place in line for a good spot, or "pitch," and then defending that pitch from police when they show up to shut you down. Street performing is not for the weak. And being a solo woman street performer has extra unseen entanglements, due to societal gender stereotypes. Read more in my new book, 21st Century Essays on Street Performing aka Busking, on