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Joshua Bell: Do the Math

Posted at 11:33 AM on April 11, 2007 by Rex Levang

As Don Lee points out below, Joshua Bell's flirtation with busking is the classical story du jour, or de la semaine, and the consensus is that the experiment was a failure, including a financial failure:


In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.

Perhaps, perhaps. On the other hand, note that that $32 was earned in 45 minutes.That's an hourly rate of roughly $40. Let's assume that you can only earn that during rush hour, and that each rush hour, morning and evening, lasts an hour and a half. Three hours a day, five days a week ... that's a take of $600 for a 3015-hour week. Which doesn't seem so terrible.

Or are my assumptions way off? Any readers with busking experience care to weigh in?