‘TipBombing’ Showers Unsuspecting Street Musicians with Cash, Compliments


The cultural movement takes New York’s subway performers by surprise with a huge collective tip

Vashti Hallissey
  • 29 july 2014

A lot of the best musicians aren’t in the charts or on the X Factor, they are on city streets and subways playing for a just a hatful of change every day. A new concept by BBH aims to show street performers how much they mean to people by surprising them with hundreds of tips. Known as TipBombing, it involves gathering a big crowd around subway musicians who think they are taking part in a music documentary, and astonishing them with an enormous collective tip.

William Yu of BBH tells PSFK:

TipBombing started with the members of our team agreeing that something as simple as compliment can completely brighten someone’s day. We then asked ourselves, ‘How would someone feel if they were given a hundred compliments at the exact same time?’ We wanted to explore this phenomenon.

TipBombing is the brainchild of BBH New York’s Barn program, the innovative team that created Underheard in NY. The BBH team wanted to pay homage to the city’s street musicians, who often work round the clock for a few coins and a love of music.

Yu explains:

Being in the city, we are surrounded by amazing musical talents that play on the streets and in the subway, but New Yorkers are always so busy that it’s hard to take a step back and really appreciate some great tunes. In creating our idea, our biggest goal was to show some appreciation for these individuals who contribute so much to the culture and vibe of New York City.

The first musician to be ‘TipBombed’ was Robert Leslie, a young singer/songwriter from the UK who is a familiar face on the city’s subway system where he regularly performs. A coordinated group of people formed a crowd around Leslie and, at the designated signal, began to drop dollars into his case.

As you can see in the video, as Leslie continues to play, people put more and more dollars in his case. He is overwhelmed as he stops to receive a massive round of applause and the tips keep on coming, as well as the encores.

The feel-good factor applies to both the performer and the crowd, Yu tells us:

We want everyone to take away a feeling of happiness and appreciation. There’s something powerful about doing something in a large group, and the spark one feels on a personal level in supporting another individual. Most importantly, TipBombing is about the busker knowing that we all believe that what they do is amazing and that their talent deserves to be recognized.

Cities can sometimes feel cold and anonymous, as street performers know only too well. This endeavour lets people share a moment together to make someone happy and say thank you.

Yu would like to people take TipBombing to other cities:

We would love for other people to copy the idea in other cities. While we’ve tried to organize large groups to surprise these musicians, the truth is that TipBombing can be done with 5, 10, any number of people really. Just grab a friend, choose a busker, and let them know how great they are!

BBH is recruiting people for the next TipBombing which will take place on Wednesday, July 30, 8:30pm at Times Square. The team will be gathering at the A/C/E/1/2/3 subway station entrance at 42nd Street and 7th Avenue.



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