By Gavin, Sep 23 2016 06:13PM
This is a post dedicated to busking in Barcelona. As some of you already know, I spent 18 months in and out of Barcelona busking and playing concerts. I will write about finding gigs and open mics in Barcelona in future posts, and I will list the various places one can contact to arrange a concert, but first, a few Barcelona busking tips.
There are many tales of buskers having their equipment confiscated by the police in Barcelona – it is true that this happens; I have seen it. The Police have power to take away a street musicians’ equipment if they so wish, and furthermore, there is a fee of 200 Euros to pay to reclaim it. Any instruments unclaimed within a certain time period are then donated to music schools in the city.
As a busker in Barcelona it is useful to know the difference between the Guàrdia Urbana and the Mossos d'Esquadra – these are the police forces that patrol the city streets. It took me some time to realise that the Mossos d'Esquadra are generally not interested in busting street musicians; they seem to be looking for higher levels of crime in the city. The Guàrdia Urbana however are the police you need to watch out for when busking, they may stop you and take your stuff! It is easy to distinguish between the two as they either have Guàrdia Urbana or Mossos d'Esquadra written on their vehicles.
If you are planning to busk in the streets of Barcelona, I strongly suggest that you do not use amplification, and avoid the old Gothic neighbourhood and the Ramblas – there is strong Police presence that is strict about busting musicians. There are a number of areas however, where musicians regularly busk and do not seem to attract any attention from the Police. The streets of the Gracia district, in and around Park Guell, some of the smaller ramblas in districts surrounding the city center, around Port Vell, and outside of the museum at Plaça d'Espanya to name a few, are places I have busked without amplification, but not comfortably, as I am always on the lookout for the Guàrdia Urbana.
Is it possible to busk in Barcelona without the constant fear of losing one’s instrument? The answer is yes - head for the Metro stations.
The organisation of live music in the Barcelona’s metro is run by a musicians association called: La Associaciò de Músics del carrer i Metro de Barcelona, or AMUC for short. The AMUC is responsible for regulating the quality of the music in the Metro stations, and scheduling slots for their members. It is relatively easy to become a member, and there are auditions once a year, usually in the autumn. If you pass the audition, you will receive a permit (for an admin fee of around 30 Euros) to play at designated slots at the stations within the metro system. The Metro is the only place in Barcelona where it is safe to play with amps, or any kind of noise making equipment (excluding percussion) without the fear of having it taken away by the police.
You can contact the AMUC about membership via their Facebook page here, or find more information on their website here. It is possible to busk in the Metro without membership. If there is an empty busking spot (identified by ‘Musica del Metro’ signs on the walls) you can pitch-up and start to play. The downside to this is, if an association member wants the spot, you will have to move.
From my experience, the best seasons for busking in Barcelona are during the spring and autumn months. The summer brings many tourists to Barcelona, but the scorching heat makes busking hard work, especially if playing in the Metro.