The problems HK's buskers face, and what they think the government can do to help

YP ReporterShuying Li

They suggest introducing a licensing system for street performers to reduce noise, rather than banning music altogether

YP ReporterShuying Li |

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Mong Kok’s famous pedestrian zone closed at 10pm on Sunday night.

Buskers have expressed mixed feelings about the closure of the Mong Kok pedestrian zone, saying that while the area isn’t ideal for playing street music, there aren’t many alternative venues in the city.

The musicians said the area, which is located along a stretch of Sai Yeung Choi Street South, is overcrowded, and non-buskers are often disruptive.

However, local busking duo Kary n Roddy said that they are worried about finding a place to busk once the Mong Kok zone closes. They suggested that regulation, not eviction, would be a better way of dealing with street performers.

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“We don’t know whether [regulation] is an appropriate way to stop the noise there, but we think that there should be some clear rules to follow,” said Roddy Yuen. “Hong Kong can take, as an example, what Melbourne’s government did to buskers.”

In the Australian city, street performers are required have a licence. Melbourne also plans to introduce an e-payment method for people to tip performers. Other buskers, like music group BlankPage, said that they used to perform in Mong Kok when it was not as busy, but that the influx of middle-aged performers who blare loud music has made the area less appealing to them.

“We seldom play music in those areas, because the place is so crowded; it affects not only our performance but also the enjoyment and experience of listeners.”

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They said Mong Kok was once a place where buskers loved to play because the listeners create a good atmosphere. BlankPage added that it was unfair that actual musicians were being forced out by those who simply performed louder and not necessarily better.

Jay Lee, from the busking collective City Echo HK, has performed in Mong Kok before, but found it “unsuitable for street music”. He said a licensing system would help to reduce both crowds and noise, and would “provide a better [environment] for performers”.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge