Smartphones: Indispensable Tool For The Modern Busker

from the technology-changing-things dept

We've written recently how things like the modern smartphone maybe starting to change the movie business (though, still in very early stages), but it's impacting certain other areas as well. Musician Onyx Ashanti, who last year told us about his experiments with "pay what you want" and connecting with fans as a busker/street performer, writes in to let us know of his recent blog post concerning how the smartphone has become an indispensable tool for the modern busker:
For myself and my busking exploits, the iphone is now indespensible. I use mine as a wireless midi controller using an app called TouchOSC. When I arrive in a new city, looking for locations to busk, I make use of a gps enabled map app called MotionX GPS which allows me to download maps of an area before departing home, then drop map points of interest either from research at home, or from recommendations of people I meet in said city. It allows me to arrive in a new place and bike around, finding interesting locations as I go. When I find one that is viable based on the criteria to be covered in the next chapter, I drop a map point and location notes onto the map. This allows me to do recon on many areas of a new place, quickly and efficiently then when I am ready to play, I can focus on playing rather than pitch recon. If one potential pitch is occupied or in some way, undesirable, I can look at my map and go to the next closest potential pitch,without having to go into "recon" mode, which saves a lot of valuable time.
He later discusses how it helps as a tool to turn busking performances into venue gigs as well:
One of my favorite functions of such devices is as a portable press kit. I love busking as much as I love playing shows in venues. Many times people who book such venues, will see me on the street and hire me to play. But sometimes I happen upon a place or person and strike up a conversation and said person wants to see what I do. So, I whip out my trusted iphone, which i have preloaded with different types of videos. Some more "jazz" oriented for cafes and jazzier places, some more "dance oriented" for clubs and bars, and some live "street oriented" vids for farmers markets and street fairs. A picture may say 1000 words but a video says it all. The video quality on the iphone is extremely high and the volume is adequate. Very useful and powerful.
Of course, he also discusses how it's helpful in connecting with fans, both via social networks and in creating various flashmobs. It also is useful in selling merchandise:
Selling merchandise? With a smartphone you can accept different forms of payment in different currencies. It is now easier than ever to accept credit cards with systems like square and/or you can use paypal, which has grown far beyond a simple method of making payments on E-bay.
There's a lot more in there as well, so go read the full post. I think it's quite fascinating how the various tools out there are changing different professions that you didn't think would be impacted by such technology, and this seems to be yet another example.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: busking, music industry, onyx ashanti, smartphones

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Zealot, 20 Jan 2011 @ 5:07pm

    Cool, but ....

    These are very cool apps, and they seem to really help him, but let's out here the zealot's view: these apps send data to unknown places, have unknown source code and work on a closed platform, therefore I advise everyone to abandon them entirely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jan 2011 @ 6:50pm

    20 years ago, the same story could have been written about photocopy machines, CD duplicators, and the like. Not really news.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), 20 Jan 2011 @ 10:07pm


    Exactly. That's why this story isn't about either of those things.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Judith, 21 Jan 2011 @ 4:11am

    smart phones

    Fascinating use of technology. Thanks for mentioning this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jan 2011 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re:

    It could have been the more generic "musician uses new technology to achieve age old goals", and would have been a fluff piece on page 59 of a cheesy newspaper.

    Not much to it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), 21 Jan 2011 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Why stop there? It could have been "some people do some stuff". Very unnewsorthy!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Onyx Ashanti, 26 Jan 2011 @ 3:50pm

    I want to point out that this is actually just a chapter in a book that i am working on at the moment entitled, "the 21st century musicians guide to busking". it isnt meant to be a general "use technology and be better!"piece, but meant as one piece of a concept for making the world your stage thru busking, ie, for musicians to directly connect with people on the street and in cafes and markets who would have otherwise not even known they existed, especially in these hyper-connected times. making use of and being connected with these miraculous devices, aids in such an endeavor in many many ways.

    thank you for the comments,

    Onyx Ashanti

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Lois, 26 Jan 2012 @ 9:28pm

    Buskers and technology - use ziptip to increase tips

    Lots of people dont carry much cash anymore, and there arent a lot of options for buskers to receive noncash tips using phones until now. Ziptip was started to allow anyone to pay anyone anytime and it will increase buskers tips. It uses phones and business cards. Buskers sign up at and get cards and then give them out or display them to audience. Someone who wants to tip you gets a card and scans it resukting in instant payment to your ziptip account. The cards also serve as marketing pieces for younso people will remember you. Increase your tips receipts! Visit

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    John Dempsey, 5 Jan 2013 @ 3:52am

    Busking London Underground

    I wrote a comic novel about London Underground busking in the 80′s. I would be honoured to have the first chapter listed in your “Busking Stories” section. I can send you the file or you can have a look at the link below.
    Cheers John

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)


Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

Introducing the new Techdirt Insider Chat, now hosted on Discord. If you are an Insider with a membership that includes the chat feature and have not yet been invited to join us on Discord, please reach out here.

Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.