On a beautiful July day in Vancouver, Mike Rosenberg, better known to music fans around the world as Passenger, plugged in his guitar on the sidewalk opposite the Vancouver Art Gallery and quickly commanded a crowd.
Rosenberg is quite comfortable busking. After his band (also called Passenger) broke up, the British singer-songwriter spent a few years travelling around Europe and Australia busking for crowds and building a massive fanbase one pop-up show at a time. He released his third solo record, All the Little Lights, in February 2012, and his single, "Let Her Go," has topped the charts in 16 countries, from Australia to Sweden.
Here, we present a pair of songs from his Vancouver busking set:
"Let Her Go"
Before his set, we asked Rosenberg for a few tips for buskers.
1. Follow the sun
"For six months of the year, it's great in Europe, but then it gets cold. That's why I went to Australia in the first place and it really worked. So for three years, I was summer-hopping just going from summer to summer."
2. Be socially conscious
"The most important thing is to have something to give people for free. A card with your Facebook or your Twitter or Instagram on it. Give people a reason to check you out online. It's not enough to be playing good music. People are going to enjoy it, but they're going forget your name unless they have something to remind them — 'Oh, that guy, he was great!' That was the real turning point for me when I started busking that started this online momentum. It may be only two people a day to start with that get onto your Facebook. Building that side of it slowly is important.
3. Don't be above the bait and switch
"Covers are really helpful to pull people in. If people hear a song they know they are much more likely to stick around, and then you slap them with one of your songs afterwards."
Follow Brad Frenette on Twitter: @bradfrenette
Were you at this pop-up concert in Vancouver? Or have you seen Passenger busk in other cities? Let us know in the comments below.
on Jul 24, 2013