Canberra Busker Goes From The Streets To Spotify With Government Funding

Genie Roberts got to work while unable to perform, creating his first EP. Photo: Genie Roberts.

Canberra busker Genie Roberts, who recently released his debut EP, is an achievement of ACT government’s HOMEFRONT funding for Canberra artists.

One of more than 370 funding applicants, Genie and 65 other artists have received up to $ 10,000, funding designed to recognize the impact of COVID-19 on the arts sector and help local artists continue to develop their practices.

Busting when the pandemic struck, Genie, who was born as Eugene Robertson, knew he was in trouble.

Not only was he not physically allowed to go singing in local malls, but people were also encouraged to limit their use of coins and cash.

Having gambled on the streets for two years, Genie says it can be a pretty lucrative way to make money although there are a myriad of complex factors that affect how much he can make from a night out.

Obviously, busking is a weather dependent activity, but Genie is also at the mercy of other factors beyond his control, like whether or not there has been bad news.

What he can control is where he plays and when.

It’s been a trial and error process for Genie to find the best places and times to make music.

“I think 4 pm to 6 pm is the best time, and I find I have better luck on a Thursday and Friday,” he explained.

He attributes this to the fact that people get paid on these days or are generally happier as the weekend approaches.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the opposite on a Monday.


READ ALSO: More HOMEFRONT Funding for Hard-Hit Arts Sector


In terms of location, he believes smaller city centers like Hawker Shops are better than Civic.

“What you’re looking for is the mix of enough foot traffic to make it worth it, but small enough that people are more likely to support a local artist,” he said.

Another thing he avoids is if people beg, because he says the idea of ​​asking for money next to someone who needs it just to get by is unthinkable.

With Canberra shutdown by COVID-19 last year, along with the sudden loss of income, the inability to play has left it at a stalemate.

“I had to ask myself what I could do during the time I couldn’t sing in public that could productively benefit my career,” explained Genie.

After hearing about HOMEFRONT funding through his social circle, designed for artists who had suffered a sudden and dramatic loss of income due to the pandemic restrictions, he decided he was the perfect fit.


READ ALSO: Concert halls will share $ 800,000 in government funding


The $ 9,000 grant he received was largely spent on recording and production equipment as well as professional mixing and mastering of the tracks.

Genie said it was a difficult process to turn his usual busting tracks into fully produced compositions. He usually played using a loop pedal which he then layered with roots, reggae, and blues influences, but quickly realized that the songs had to be drastically reworked in order to stay on their own as you couldn’t. have the same chord progression over and over again. the song.

He says the self-produced EP Lifeless things is an exploration of self-discovery and uncertainty that combines roots, reggae, alternative rock and contemporary blues.

“Before HOMEFRONT, releasing my first self-produced EP seemed out of reach. The music I wrote really opened my eyes to what I’m capable of creatively, ”he said.

At the moment, due to health reasons, Genie is unable to perform, but says he hopes that upon his return to the stage he will start performing in pubs and bars around town as well. than to return to the streets as a busker.

Find out on Spotify.


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