Hopeful Melbourne buskers had to impress a panel of judges in public auditions in order to to secure a prized spot in Bourke Street Mall, as new legislation came into effect last week.
Twenty musicians were part of the stringent 10-minute auditions, in hope they’d receive a coveted three year busking permit. Dubbed the ‘premium’ permit, only 140 musicians at any given time can be granted this permit. Those 140 are a small number of the city’s 2000+ registered buskers.
The latest update to the Melbourne City Council busking rulebook detail tougher noise regulations in response to growing complaints. Under the new legislation, musicians will need to restrict the volume of their performances to below an average of 79 decibels from a three-metre range, down from the previous 82 decibels allowed.
Performers who are given the lower-level [non-premium] permit will have to stick to an average of 72 decibels from three metres away. Acts including caricature, portraiture, calligraphy and ballooning will no longer be considered as busking. In the new regulation, they’ll be required to obtain a street trading permit, as of June.
Councillor Rohan Leppert believes the new system will act as a preventative method to large amounts of street traders in the one place. “We just want to make sure places like Swanston Street have a significant element of music on them,” he said.
“It is about a distribution thing, mainly. It’s also about how we regulate street trading, because there’s a much more commercial element to it.” At this point, these new regulations only apply to the Bourke Street Mall, but Cr Leppert indicated these changes could apply to other areas in the future. These changes could potentially be applied to high traffic areas.
Aaron Pollock, a Melbourne folk/blues singer auditioned for the premium permit. At the time of his audition, he said he believed this [a spot in Bourke Street Mall] would be an immense opportunity to grow his fanbase. “It gives you a lot of freedom to play whatever you want – it’s your spot there for three hours.”
Ideally, performers would gain a higher financial earning as opposed to other spots in the CBD.