Busking in Singapore

Who needs an office job

I earn my keep outdoors

Let the music play on

Lady Gaga’s bad romance

I’ve seen this guy a couple of times. He dances to modern popular music streaming out of the tape recorder behind him, and he is so energetic he can put some younger people I know to shame. He looks happy and satisfied doing his own thing. And he’s getting his exercise too!

We know exercise delays dementia and improves brain function. Get all the exercise you can and at the very least, avoid sitting still for hours at a time.


5 Facts about Busking in Singapore:

1. It was illegal for 3 years until 1997. And then busking was permitted, but under strict conditions.

2. You need a “Letter of Endorsement” in order to busk. (You can see the busker above has laminated his).

3. You have to be a citizen, permanent resident or work permit holder.

4. You have to pass an audition. Auditions are held every 3 months.

5. How to apply for a Letter of Endorsement: http://www.nac.gov.sg/grants-initiatives/schemes/special-schemes/busking-scheme

Although it has been 15 years since the busking scheme was set up, there is no liberalisation of the rules because some buskers feared doing away with applications would “lower the quality of performances” – 19 Feb 2012: news article. Some even suggested bringing in “overseas professional buskers to enliven the busking scene and lift standards”.

I say liberalise! Variety is the spice of life!


19 thoughts on “Busking in Singapore”

  1. my brother used to go to therapy for exercise, but now he is too weak to do anything. his tremors have just worn his body down. he can walk through the house fairly well, but if we go anywhere, he tires to easily and must use the wheelchair. he has Parkinson’s and dementia


    1. You are doing a great job for your brother and he doesn’t need any exercise at this point in time. Hugs and 3 cheers for you! I am on tenterhooks for the birthday celebration, hope it’s a wonderful day for both of you!


      1. it ended up being a wonderful day. although he spent much time in his room resting on his bed, when it was time to eat or open his gifts, he was all smiles


  2. Wow auditions? I hope it is a panel of judges, rather than just one solitary person making all the decisions…. I agree – Variety IS the spice of life. Buskers loose their ability to earn money if their acts are all vanilla, and cookie cutter.


    1. It is a panel, and there are different categories eg music, singing, acrobatics…. And is primarily intended to stop untalented pure begging. Unfortunately, the process strips away spontaneity.


  3. Control, control and more control – but then again, most people in Singapore do not bother to self regulate.

    There are free seats below my apartment block – neighbours and especially old folks gather.

    At night, outsiders (not residents) – eat/drink/litter/urinate and raise a ruckus all night. Now the RC removed the seats…no one gets to gather and chat, less interactions for neighbours.


      1. I agree – definitely overdone.

        I feel so sad for all these lovely old folks – sometimes, I stop to chat with them and they are always so nice… I’m sure we could have resolved the problem without depriving the residents of a facility.

        Many years ago, fathers and sons gathered in the small garden/playground behind my block every weekend – the men interacted and the boys played soccer – all races. So wonderful. The RC decided that grass was getting damaged and creating bald red mud spots – they planted saplings and blocked off the garden – no more interactions among adults. I can’t believe how myopic these so-called “grassroots leaders” are…

        But one gets the impression that in S’pore everything is based on cost and expedience…

        Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not seeking the last word – but only to agree with your suggestion about “liberalise”


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