While I'm playing, I'll routinely see a policeman ask a person sleeping on the ground to sit upright. I'm not sure if that's because of the civil sidewalks ordinance or to "prevent obstructions".
I don't know about San Francisco specifically, but in some cities police forces use this sort of instruction to identify people who need medical assistance: If you're able to respond to the police, you're probably fine, but if you just lay there then you're probably incapacitated by alcohol, drugs, or some other medical condition.
One day my dad stopped and asked him, "You seem sane and well-educated, why do you do this?" (I'm paraphrasing here.) The man told him, "Sir, I make a hundred dollars a day, tax-free."
(My dad saluted him and walked on.)
Since then their price has rocketed just like every other tangible which has become a hotly contested investment asset.
It's sad because it makes these things less and less likely to get played and more likely to end up in a vault.
Good to see at least a handful of them in use out there.
Doubly interesting to me since I’m thinking of performing as well.
The kind of performance I’m considering, though, would be of a more obscure style and requiring some electronic gear (worth $xxxx), so I’d probably go for a collaboration with a friend at least to have a sense of safety.
Regarding eight hours a day, as a software engineer most days I personally pull off about 5 hours of actual focus tops, though maybe that’s just me.
My focus on software is also 0-5 hours a day, and those hours are only before noon and after 10 pm.
One of our favourites was the Mozart Organ Sonatas. We generally made enough money to buy beers at the end of the evening.
I guess my biggest memory was the time we started playing in front of Au Bon Pain when we just started out. I thought we were doing OK until some guy, with a grim fierce smile, took out a fistful of pennies and chucked them, one at a time, into the violin case. Apparently we had taken over the spot where a much-loved group regularly played. He made it more than obvious that we were not welcome there. We had no idea there was politics involved!
We moved on quickly, with our tails between our legs.
One of the nicest things we got was a sketch by a local artist. It's still got pride of place in my violin case.
"Inequity"? Yea, right. I sure feel inequitably about those who make our public spaces more vs less pleasant.
Sometimes I cope by playing with my eyes closed. Violinists have options where to position their eyes: on their bow, on their fingers (rare, but helpful sometimes in practice), out into space, or closed. For example, James Ehnes and Hilary Hahn look at their bows, but Itzhak Perlman and many others play with their eyes closed. I focus on the bow, but when someone is taking a video, I might close my eyes to remove the distractions.
In my limited experience, places where there is more interest in erudite music also have more people busking, not less, since there are more players overall.
And yes, you're also correct that for some instruments, concerts are not easy to come by. Our orchestra has a wait list of 70 flutes! Our #1 organizational challenge is figuring out how to provide more performance opportunities to more people in a financially sustainable way.
(Incidentally, I have seen one solo flautist busking in Powell Station. He was a high school student.)