Should buskers have the X-Factor to entertain Hull shoppers?
THEY stand on street corners in all weathers, hoping for the jingle of loose change in their guitar cases.
Paul Heaton and Stan Cullimore cut their musical teeth busking in Whitefriargate before achieving chart success with The Housemartins in the 1980s.
Now, buskers could face X-Factor-style auditions before being allowed to entertain the masses on city centre streets.
The idea is one of a number of "management" options for buskers being considered by the city council.
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Anyone can simply turn up and perform in the city centre without having to apply for permission or pay for a licence at the moment.
But new options up for discussion include introducing auditions, issuing licences and designating approved sites.
Taking a break from entertaining the crowds in Jameson Street by drumming on paint tubs, cooking pots and tin lids, Polish musician Simon hopes Hull will stick to its free-for-all policy.
Simon, 25, is a regular visitor to Hull and his act is featured on YouTube.
"I play all over the country," he said. "In some places, like London, Liverpool and York, you have to pay a fee, but it's still free in Leeds and Manchester.
"People in Hull don't have much money to give so it's good that it's free here.
"I like it here in Hull and think it should stay free for people like me to play music."
Among the options to be discussed by councillors next week will be a voluntary code of practice covering issues such as noise levels and the length of performances.
An accompanying council report says: "Buskers can provide activity and vibrancy to public spaces but conversely, on occasions, can create a problematic situation, especially with residents and business users."
The report says some cities, including York, already hold auditions for street buskers.
It adds: "There are arguments for and against.
"Auditions would create delays that could mean buskers do not visit the city centre, some are itinerant and only spend a few days at any one location before moving on.
"However, auditions would mean an element of quality could be injected into the process."
For Simon the drummer, turning up unannounced to play music on the street was a key part of being a busker.
"I can pack up my drums and move on whenever I want. I like that," he said.
Among the appreciative audience watching him play was Bill Dalley, 68, of National Avenue, west Hull.
A former musician with 1960s Hull group The Crestas, he said busking should stay free from council red tape.
"I like coming into the town and seeing this sort of thing," he said.
"It's spontaneous and gives people a chance to express themselves.
"As a musician myself, I enjoy seeing others playing.
"There aren't any bandstands anymore where people can just set up and play so I'm all for buskers."