Boris Johnson announces busking code of conduct - to cut down on renditions of Stairway to Heaven

Official guidelines have been agreed by police and musicians' groups

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Sick of hearing buskers crooning endlessly through Stairway to Heaven or Here Comes the Sun on London’s streets? Mayor Boris Johnson has called on street musicians to vary their repertoires to cut complaints; one of the measures in the capital’s first Busking Code of Conduct.

The Mayor of London’s office has released the official busking guidelines, agreed by police, local council officers and street musicians, saying: “If you stick to the code, you shouldn’t experience any problems.”

The rules also included calling on performers to make sure pedestrians did not trip over musical equipment and that “piercing” instruments such as bagpipes should be kept away from flats, shops and offices.

It is part of a new drive called Busk in London, designed to provide universal rules for street performers across London. Previously there had been a “patchwork” of different regulations in each borough that had confused buskers and even put them off performing, the Mayor said.

The new guidelines – the first for London’s street musicians – cover issues from where to busk and how to minimise complaints to collecting money and sharing popular locations with other musicians. The Mayor’s Office called them “common sense rules” to make busking easier.

One crucial point, the guidelines stated, was to vary the set list. “Performers with varied repertoire are more popular and attract fewer complaints,” it said, adding: “If you only know a few songs, move to a new location when you’ve played them.”


It added that volume was the biggest cause of complaints, as “some sounds become annoying more quickly” - especially repetitive sounds such as percussion or beatboxing, as well as amplified guitars and “piercing sounds like bagpipes”.

Mr Johnson said: “Busking adds to the capital’s joie de vivre, but in spite of its popularity, buskers have sometimes encountered problems when plying their trade, some have even been put off.”

The Mayor’s Office said music tourism contributed £600m to London’s economy each year, but said the street performing had fallen behind New York, Paris and Melbourne after some boroughs discouraged busking or provided no information.