Melbourne buskers face a severe cut in takings as the City of Melbourne trials an extended ban on amplified music in public places.
Buskers will be barred from using amplifiers along a key CBD stretch of Swanston Street for three months from August 1.
The decision comes after Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle revealed the council had received 264 noise-related complaints about buskers between January 1, 2013 and June 30, 2016.
Saxophonist Andrew Demetriou told The Newsroom he has earned $80 an hour busking on Swanston Street, but feared it would plummet to around $30 to $40 when the trial is introduced. “Even though $30 an hour is a good wage… I can’t come in every day and do this.”
The loss of the amplifier would leave him no room for creativity, he said.
“It just sounds terrible. No-one knows what I’m playing. It’s boring.”
The Newsroom went along to hear Mr Demetriou’s twist on Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk.
The City of Melbourne’s media advisor, Michael Birt, told The Newsroom the council has to balance the interests of buskers, residents and businesses, saying “We need to get noise complaints to an acceptable level and determine the way forward.”
The effectiveness of the trial will be judged by the number of complaints during the trial, as well as feedback from businesses and residents.
“The trial may influence where some people can perform,” Mr Birt said. “However, there are other parts of the city where they can continue to work as they do now.”
The council’s Busking Guidelines already ban amplified busking outside hotels, motels and residential buildings, train stations Flinders Street and Southern Cross and at City Square.
The new ban will extend from Flinders Lane to La Trobe Street. – Video filmed and produced by Matthew Male