I’ve been doing stuff online for the past year and a half to try to make some money, since the whole “real job” thing isn’t much of an option anymore.  I had some small successes there, but nothing to get excited about.  So lately I’ve been considering other options to bring in some money.


Doing artwork seems like an obvious choice for me.  I’ve always loved drawing, ever since I was a kid, so I guess I should try and make some money at it.  There are lots of options out there.  There are the usual methods with craft fairs and stuff like that.  There are always artists set up by the Honolulu Zoo too.  There’s also eBay and similar sites for artists and crafters to sell their work.

And I can also try joining the many street performers out in Waikiki, making drawings or simple paintings on the spot for donations.  That seems like an interesting route to try, so I’ve been looking into that.


I’m also thinking about going that route with music, and I think that will actually be easier and cheaper to start out with.  I already have a guitar, so I can just take that out there with me and see what I can do.  Drawing and painting costs money, even just for practice, but music is free, as long as I’m not busting strings.  So I may start with music.

The problem is that I don’t know any songs lol.

Actually, I used to play guitar — like maybe almost 20 years ago.  I mostly played at church.  Simple stuff.  Just strumming basic chords and singing.  But I don’t want to play that kind of stuff anymore.

So the first thing I need to do is learn some songs.

How Many Songs Will I Need To Learn To Start Busking?

At first I was thinking that I would need to learn hundreds of songs like those other guys out there, but you know what?  I’m not trying to compete with them.  I’m not trying to be a professional musician or earn the respect of other musicians.  I’m just trying to put some smiles on some tourists’ faces as they walk by and earn me some tips.

One thing I learned from my days as a young musician:  you don’t have to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix to please most people in the crowd.  They aren’t musicians, they just like listening to live music.  So if you can keep a beat, play your chords right and sing in tune, most non-musicians will be happy if you’re playing songs they already love.

And there’s one huge difference between playing music on the sidewalk and playing in a club:  your audience changes every few minutes.

If I was trying to play gigs at clubs and bars, I might need to learn several hours of material for a single gig.  But out on the street, most people are just passing by and will only hear 1-2 songs at the most.  Some will stick around for a little longer, though, maybe because they are shopping at the store or eating at the restaurant that you’re playing in front of.

So just how much music do I need to get started?  I figure I can do okay with as few as 10 songs to start.  I could probably stay in one spot and just keep playing those same songs over and over without anybody hearing the same song twice (except maybe the employees who work within earshot of my music).  I can live with that.

And I can always move down the street after playing my set, if I’m getting the feeling that it’s time for a fresh audience.

So seriously…I think I could get started busking with just 10 songs.  Even if I only make $5 a day (which I think is a ridiculously conservative figure), that would still be more than I’m making online at this point.  So why not give it a shot?

At the very least, it would give me something interesting to blog about :)

Got any suggestions for my first 10 easy guitar songs?

So far I’m learning “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver, “Island In The Sun” by Weezer, and “Same Girl” by Jack Johnson.

Have you ever tipped any street musicians in your area or while on vacation?  What songs did they play for you?