Busking at the San Diego Embarcadero aka San Diego Harbor
My "day job" fell through about 6 months ago, which was August 2016. It wasn't a surprise because I had been on tour in Europe for 2 months and I had technically quit before going. I wasn't really too upset that my "day job" fell through because I felt I had accomplished my mission as a video producer and editor for the 3 years I worked for the company. I also wasn't upset because after being on tour for two months I was on fire to go back to playing my music full time. However, playing music over in Europe with a booking a promotion agency helping me is totally different than being a full time musician in San Diego.
For the past 6 months I've played at least one promoted show a month, I've played every Thursday night with the Pilgrimage of the Heart kirtan band, I've done a few week long tours and I've done a whole lot of busking in San Diego and I've started giving banjo lessons. These are all music things that I am proud to do because they are on my path. One non-music related thing I still is I still do about 6 hours a week of video editing for the company I was working for before. Between all these things I've been able to make a living for myself. It also helps that I now qualify for free health insurance through the state of California. Oh, and I've also driven for the ride share company "Lyft" a little, but I figured out that I can make about the same amount of money busking as I do driving for them, so I usually go busking instead because it's doing what I love, whereas driving people around is not. Check out this post about my history of busking and why I still do it here:
The busking has really come in handy. In the past 6 months that I've been doing it in earnest here in San Diego I average about $15/hour. That's pretty good. I intend to claim this income for tax purposes, so it'll probably be closer to $13/ hour, but that's still cool with me at this point in my life. Some hours I have made no money at all and some hours I have made way more than $15, but the average is $15, so a-busking I keep going. I should also mention that I sell CDs too and that is included in my calculation of $15/hour.
I am grateful that I have not been harassed by the law enforcement during these past six months, but I did receive a complaint by an old man in at the Balboa Park fountain a few days ago who demanded that I turn off my amp.
"I don't have it on very loud" I assured him "I only have it loud enough to hear myself over the sound of the fountain."
"I don't care. You are breaking the law and please turn it off" demanded the man.
So I turned off my amp. A few songs of no amplification at the Balboa Park fountain and I realized that people paid even less attention to me and I wasn't even sure they could hear me.
So I moved on to my acoustic spots in other parts of the park, but other buskers kept telling me "this is my spot, I have a permit here" except for one named Jeremiah aka "Bandit".
Jeremiah aka "Bandit" was an angel to me that day. I told him what was going on and he told me "don't worry about all those guys, they tried that stuff on me when I first started playing the park too. Jeremiah is called "Bandit" because he is missing half of one of his arms and he is from Las Vegas, Nevada and so his nickname seems to be an allusion to the one armed bandit slot machines.
"Well, I guess I'll go try and find another spot somewhere else" I told Jeremiah.
"Here, take my spot" said Jeremiah. "I'm going to go get Slim's spot when he leaves at 3:30pm anyways. Also, I've already done pretty darn good today, so go ahead and have my spot".
"Are you sure" I said. "Thank you so much man. Bandit's spot was a pretty good location at the Prado in Balboa Park.
I continue to busk about 3 days a week in San Diego for about 4-5 hours each day I do it. I find that after 4-5 hours I'm exhausted. Some days are great and some are miserable, but I always feel satisfied because I'm playing my music and that's what I really want to be doing. I've literally been down to my last $5 over these past 6 moths and busking has saved me from financial ruin!
There's a saying "A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work". It's true. I'm a full time fisherman now and each day is magical, even if it grueling.