Research finds buskers earn more if they play classical music on cold Sundays

25 November 2021, 11:38 | Updated: 25 November 2021, 12:29

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Classical musicians earn more from busking, especially if they play in the middle of a busy town square, on a cold Sunday.

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Research has found buskers are likely to take home more cash if they play classical music on a busy Sunday, while there’s a chill in the air.

Evidence gathered by a Netherlands university has shown that, compared to rock music, the public is most generous when classical music is played.

Over three months, Tilburg University researchers studied 72 musicians playing on the streets of Cologne to find out what earns them the most money, and recorded responses from over 80,000 passers-by.

A busker in Cologne earns an average of €23 an hour. But if he swaps his jazz, pop or rock repertoire to classical, his hourly income shoots up to €27 an hour.

Read more: 83% of professional musicians unable to find regular work since pandemic

Research finds buskers earn more if they play classical music on cold Sundays
Research finds buskers earn more if they play classical music on cold Sundays. Picture: Getty

Researchers also found that standing in a square earns more donations than if the musician stands against a wall, or in the middle of the street. Plus, the more people who walk by, the more donations the musician will receive, throwing light on the popularity of areas like the London Underground.

Researchers Samuel Stäbler and Kim Mierisch found that passers-by aged 30 to 65 years old were the most likely to donate, and women were likely to shell out more than men.

Earnings spike when a child busker is involved, with earnings growing to €45 an hour as people tend to feel protective and paternal of children.

If the quality of the performance is higher, the musician earns an average of €28 an hour. People in groups are more likely to donate because they want to impress their friends with their generosity, and particularly when the weather is cold.

Read more: This former opera house is now pulling £2 pints after being restored into a pub

A young musician plays a homemade electric bass in Washington Square Park in New York City
A young musician plays a homemade electric bass in Washington Square Park in New York City. Picture: Alamy

Sundays are the most lucrative day with average hourly earnings of €36. The day of rest has religious implications and is more likely to ‘amplify feelings like empathy and lead to more donations’.

Researchers conclude that their study could influence how fundraising companies and other kinds of street performers market their performances.

“Artists could benefit from actively influencing the size of the crowd around them, perhaps by bringing fans and friends to their performances or advertising to notify fans about their performances,” they add.