The City of Madison does not directly regulate street musicians, although standard City of Madison ordinances such as those prohibiting obstructing the sidewalk and unreasonable noise apply to everyone.
Street musicians who do not use public electricity are not required to be licensed (See below for amplification information). There are no assigned sites, although no musician may obstruct the natural flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
Downtown Madison is a dynamic place with much interaction between vendors, merchants, performers, pedestrians, students, and shoppers. While the City does not regulate the placement of street musicians, here are some suggestions: Use good and fair judgment in selecting a place in which to perform. Avoid performing too close to a special event, especially a musical event. Avoid performing so close to other musicians that your music overlaps and competes, or too close to store fronts and merchant vendors. Be respectful of requests to turn down the volume. Others may call the City of Madison Police if you do not cooperate with producing reasonable sound levels or maintaining a reasonable distance from a vendor display or special event.
Street musicians may not sell anything on the street or sidewalks of Madison unless also licensed as a Street Vendor. On the Mall / Concourse, only locally produced recordings of your own music can be sold. If you wish to sell locally produced copies of your own music, you must become licensed as a Mall / Concourse Arts & Crafts Vendor. Please see Arts & Crafts
Street Musicians Using Public Electricity for Amplification:
Street artists may accept donations without being licensed. The artist must accept whatever donors choose to give. No minimum price or set fee may be demanded for any artistic creations such as chalk drawings, balloon sculptures, spray painted art, body painting, henna tattoos, chair massage, etc. They are advised to select a location that does not obstruct the natural flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic, which remains outside the perimeter of a special event, and which does not create a hazard. They must maintain a reasonable distance from the displays of licensed vendors and move if a vendor asks them to. If these procedures are not consistently maintained, it may require Police intervention.
When in doubt of how to proceed, please call the Street Vending Coordinator at (608) 261-9171.