I got my start as a street performer in San Francisco in April 2013. All roads lead to street art or die, lol. It was meant to be and was (and still is) exactly what I had to do to survive and quite possibly thrive. I knew San Francisco had potential before I came here, yet I didn’t know exactly what it was. I looked day in and out for two months for a job here while considering teaching abroad again.
I didn’t really find a job that I was interested in or a job that I wasn’t interested in which seemed to be all the above. I was burnt out on looking for a “job”. I saw street performers and talked with a few and just thought if they can do it then so can I. I am creative and I knew I could make it work. Sure I had my doubts and difficulties and still do, yet I applied myself and it worked out.
So there is something with the environment and I knew that SF had something and I was right. I couldn’t do this everywhere. The environment helped me.
How I did it
I looked at my skills and interests and decided to take an interest – beatboxing to the streets. It’s pretty new. I never beatboxed in front of people before and I would say that I am not an expert by any means, but I am learning and getting better. In all honesty I am probably better at other things such as drawing, painting, dj’ing and scratching records. But at the time the dj’ing is not ready to hit the streets (mainly the expense of powering them). Something that I am planning on, but it is not yet ready.
The art is an idea that I have tried a bit on the streets, but you can’t legally sell art without a permit. You can mask it by asking for a donation before you give it yet that takes a lot of energy. Solicitors and cold callers have a pretty high failure rate. I have other ideas for that yet, I decided to focus on the present and in the present as I walk about town I amuse myself by beatboxing.
It’s perhaps a result of not having music – an iPod or my turntables set up at the moment. So I bought a little amp and a mic and I took it to the streets with my can.
How did I do?
Not good, the first few days I tried it I don’t think I made any money and if I did it was just a few dollars. Money was running out what was I going to do? I realized I couldn’t beatbox for long neither before I my ears started to hurt or I got tired, so I had to do something different.
I thought maybe I could tell a story or do a show and integrate it. I also thought I could make a costume for visual appeal. I did so and after a few weeks I started to make some money. It wasn’t much and it still isn’t, yet it’s getting better.
I played around quite a bit with different locations in the city. After a lot of trial and error I found my sweet spot more or less. It turned out to be the neighborhood that I also liked the best more or less. There are two different areas in the city that I found to work for me, yet I prefer one more for a variety of reasons. I make a similar amount of money in both places, but prefer one which is actually a bit less touristy and busy.
Busy is part of the equation of making money, but it is only part of it.
To be continued…