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Home > News > Resident Entrepreneurs help audiences ‘scan-to-tip’ street performers at the Fringe!

Resident Entrepreneurs help audiences ‘scan-to-tip’ street performers at the Fringe!

The Busking Project, one of our current Resident Entrepreneur companies, has developed an innovative solution for street performers at the 2022 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, providing QR codes that performers can use to direct audiences to the busk.co website, where they can tip buskers via Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal.

Over 100 performers are using busk.co at the Edinburgh Fringe, enabling them to keep up with an increasingly cashless high street, and boost their earnings from audiences via a payment system that was tailor made for street performers.

Nick Broad, CEO of The Busking Project, said:

“Covid might have gotten rid of the cash in our pockets, but it also taught everyone, no matter how tech-averse they are, to scan a QR code. So, we made these signs to help buskers at the Fringe continue to earn, creating a service that enables two-click anonymous payments of any amount straight from tipper to performer, with the lowest commission in the industry.”

Ciara Thorburn performs at the Fringe, credit Sean Francis

There are other options for cashless payments around, but none have been designed specifically for use by buskers. Physical tap-to-tip machines, for example, set the tip amount to a single defined value, and tend not to work abroad, an issue that is a particular problem for the Fringe’s international performer base.

Street performer Ciara Thorburn said:

The busk.co signs were easy to use and set up – they were responsible for about 25-30% of my hat. I love that I can hold my hat in one hand, and the sign in the other. They’re very obvious and easy to use for the audience. The professional quality also makes the audience trust that it is a secure way to pay.”

The Busking Project were successful in securing Resident Entrepreneur funding of £12,000 to support their work earlier this year.

Professor Chris Speed, Director, Creative Informatics said:

“We’re thrilled to see The Busking Project’s Resident Entrepreneur project come to life at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Busking Project team came to us with a clear idea of how they could provide a data-driven solution that would enable audiences at the Fringe to tip street performers via cashless transactions, and they have acted quickly over the last few months to make that idea a reality.”

Bartek Dabrowski performs with one of The Busking Project’s QR signs

To date we have funded sixty five projects through our Resident Entrepreneur programme, supporting designers, artists, makers, publishers and creatives from other fields to develop innovative data-driven products and services using data and data-driven technologies. The Busking Project’s cashless payment system is a great example of what can be achieved in the creative industries with relatively small amounts of research and development funding, and the right support.”


Audience members have been encouraged to fill in a short survey when tipping a performer about their Fringe experience. Almost half of survey respondents said the street performers were ‘the main reason’ why they came to visit the Fringe, showing the vital contribution that they make to the world’s largest arts festival.

Nick Broad said:

“Street performers and buskers don’t get enough credit for the role they play in the Fringe every year. A lot of them sleep in dorm rooms in hostels while they are here, they safely manage their crowds and provide world class entertainment in return for voluntary donations.

“The spiralling costs of coming to Edinburgh affects all performers at the festival, not just those on the stage. We hope that busk.co will continue to encourage audiences to show their appreciation for performances they have enjoyed, helping ensure it remains viable for street performers from all over the world to take part in the Fringe in the future.”

Applications for our FINAL round of Resident Entrepreneurs are open now and close on Wednesday 14th September at 5pm.If you are interested in applying to be a Resident Entrepreneur and would like to discuss your application idea with the CI team, join us for our RE Discovery Workshop, taking place online on Wednesday 31st August at 3pm.



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