Busking study: classical music rakes in more earnings than rock, jazz or pop covers

  • Arts
  • Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

A street musician wears a face mask while playing the violin in Valletta, Malta. Photo: Reuters

Ed Sheeran started his musical career playing in the streets of Dublin. Back in the day, the artist could perhaps have made a better living if he had played classical music rather than pop or rock songs, according to the findings of a team of European researchers, published in a recent study.

From New York to Shanghai, London to Berlin, music lovers can find street musicians in most cities of the world. But their income isn't always stable, since they depend on the generosity of passers-by. However, a study, recently published in the Marketing Letters journal, reveals that certain musical and meteorological factors can increase their earnings.

Samuel Stäbler and Kim Katharina Mierisch studied the behaviour of over 80,000 people who gave money to street musicians in Cologne between December 2016 and March 2017. While they earned an average of €23 (RM110) per hour, the style of music they played significantly influenced their income. The researchers found that pieces from the classical repertoire were particularly popular with passers-by. In this case, they earned €27 (RM129) per hour, compared to only €11 (RM53) per hour for rock, jazz or pop covers.

From days of the week to weather conditions

Even more surprisingly, the environment in which street musicians play has a real impact on their revenue at the end of the day. Researchers found that they received more donations if they played in a square than in the middle of the street.

The presence of an audience is also a factor. Passers-by tend to reach for their wallets more readily when they are in company, to show their generosity. Other factors to consider are the age and gender of the music lovers who may give money to street musicians. Women tend to be more generous than men, as do people between the ages of 30 and 65, according to the study.

The researchers also found that people seemed more supportive of children and young people playing music on the street. So much so that they earn, on average, €45 (RM215) per hour, which is almost double what their elders earn.

However, the latter can considerably increase their income if they perform on Sundays - especially if the weather is bad on that day.

"We find that consumers are more likely to donate in cold weather, most likely because they feel greater sympathy for the musician or because consumers who are physically cold are more likely to respond favorably to emotionally warm stimuli," the researchers write. - AFP

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Street artists , musicians , survey , research , classical , music , pop , rock


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