I Played Metal On The Streets For Money. Guess How Much I Made!
Armed with a little mini amp, a friend with a camera and some tech-death riffs, I set out on the streets of San Francisco to answer the old question EVERYONE and their cat is wondering:
“How much money can I make while playing metal on the streets?”
First, you can watch exactly what happened here:
Now here are my main conclusions I came to while conducting this fun test:
People will pay for uniqueness over familiarity
Although we didn’t include this in the final video, we A/B tested our hypothesis by playing “Wonderwall” on an acoustic guitar over and over again on a street corner. Although we captured the attention of a cute girl who sang along for a couple of minutes, we yielded a whopping zero dollars.
Think about it. How many douchebags with an acoustic guitar do you see playing Top 40 hits on crowded streets?
But how many constipated-looking Asian dudes do you see playing metal while actively trying to headbang his skull out of his skin? Probably under three. As a result, multiple people tipped within a short period of time.
People will pay for good entertainment
If you are anything short of being extremely good at your instrument, nobody will want to watch you simply stare at your fretboard and shred. I made sure to give lots of eye contact, smile, and even interact with the passersby. I can’t emphasize enough how hard it is to stay engaged whenever I see live “performances” of bands just looking at their instruments and standing in place. C’mon now, If I want to just listen to a song I would much rather it be on CD in the comfort of my home.
There are ways outside of what is considered “normal” to make decent money from music
After about 30 minutes of actual playing (we had to switch locations a couple of times to move to a more populated place), I made around $17. If you do the math, you’ll quickly realize that you can make some decent money if you CONSISTENTLY execute stellar, entertaining performances on the streets. But beyond just playing in the streets, musicians should think to themselves:“How else can I use my available resources to make money?”
Whether your answer is teaching guitar lessons, selling tab books, getting a popular brand to sponsor you, or something else, you just need to be creative and conduct your own experiments.
Let me know in the comments some other creative ways YOU can think of to make money in music!