Santa Monica, Califorinia


Here we are on the 3rd Street Promenade. Regulated by permits and guarded by “resident” musicians, this little spec within the Los Angeles maze is quite coveted. Promenade tourist guides ride around on bikes to enforce a strict “permit only” policy, yet they are helpful in directing you to the right place to buy one at a price of $35 for the year.

If you do not want the trouble of buying the permit, there are spots off-strip allotted for buskers which require no permit (eg. Arizona Street), but there are few and they fill up very quick. In the times I’ve visited the strip it has always been impromptu, and I’ve managed only sometimes to grab a good spot. The pedestrian pool is primarily touristy, which is generally welcoming, but privy to gimmicks. Depending on your act, this can be good or bad.

For LA, this is arguably the best spot for an out-of-town busker: bustling enough for a steady flow of foot traffic, and less competitive (and viscous) than neighboring Venice Beach, which non-native buskers should avoid.

A $35 permit can be earned back within a day if you have the right repertoire. Otherwise, it might do one better fortune to move to a smaller town down the LA coast with less hustle and bustle.


For Santa Monica:

Affordability - 3/5
Hospitality - 4/5
Police Friendliness - 3/5
Penny Rating - 3/5

Paul Conroy