Friday, May 4, 2012

Credit Cards Killed The Street Musician

I was taking a lovely stroll today on my way to pick up my race packet for a 10k I'm in on Sunday (oh yeah, I'm registered for another 10k), and I happened to pass by a street musician playing the accordion.  It is not uncommon to pass by many a musicians in this part of town.  Generally, however, they are mediocre violinists or sometimes a drummer, so an accordionist is fairly rare, and he attracted my attention.  I don't know much about the accordion, so I can't say how good or bad he was, but the accordion isn't much of a popular instrument anyway, so it made me happy.  In fact, it made me happy enough that, after I'd picked up my race packet, I decided to search my purse to see if I had any spare change.  I did, in fact, and so I dropped some in his bucket.  He thanked me, and I went on my way.

This got me to thinking, though.  Credit cards killed the street musician.  Even I remember a day (it wasn't that long ago) where street musicians were much more common.  I was wondering what happened to them, when I had an epiphany.  No one carries cash anymore, so no one gives these musicians any money.  Without the money, it is not always worth it for the musicians to play.  Of course, one could make the argument that the musicians are playing simply for the love of playing.  Some may even be college students using this time to practice in front of an audience.  Still, though, I think there would be many more if they made just a little more money.

This accordion player I saw was sitting in his spot for at least an hour.  When I gave him money, he had a grand total of maybe seven dollars (that's being generous).  He may have taken some money out and hidden it, but since I didn't see many people giving money, I doubt that was the case.  I wonder how many people liked his music.  I wonder how many people liked it enough to donate.  I wonder how many people liked it enough to donate AND had spare cash.  I was surprised that I had some, and if I hadn't he would not have gotten any money from me.  (It would be extremely rare for someone to like his music enough to go find cash somewhere.)  I wonder how much more money he would have had in his bin if fewer people carried credit cards and more people carried cash.

I suppose that someday street musicians will have to accept Square.  Until that day, I may have to make a point to carry some cash when I go through that part of town.

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