The Street Musician Partnership for Portland

This text has been swiped directly from the Portland Business Alliance website.
The original document, written March 15, 1994 can be
downloaded as a PDF.


Downtown Portland has a unique partnership that encourages street music while minimizing the impact on businesses and residents. What follows is a summary explanation of how that partnership impacts you, the street musician. (For a complete text of the agreement on which this brochure is based, contact the Portland Business Alliance Clean and Safe Director at 503.224.8684.)

This partnership agreement with you is a good example of mutual support. A partnership requires understanding and cooperation between all parties. Enjoy our city and continue to make it a beautiful place. Thank you.

The Partnership Agreement

In order to keep downtown a positive experience for you and the other thousands of people who use it everyday, a coalition of musicians, business people, residents and public officials has crafted a unique partnership to maintain the livability of the downtown area. A major goal of this partnership is to ensure that you, as a musician, can entertain your audience without impacting other users of downtown and without those other users impacting you.

Toward that end, musicians should:

  • Attempt to space themselves a minimum of one block apart. An exception to this idea is at intersections where setting up on opposing corners is okay as long as the music levels are compatible.
  • Rotate their location every 60 minutes on public rights of way, exclusive of setup and tear-down time. This gives more musicians the opportunity to play at choice locations.
  • After a 60 minute break, a musician may play a second 60-minute session at the same location. Musicians should not play more than two one-hour sessions at any one location on any given day.
  • Understand Portland’s noise control ordinance, which makes it a crime to operate a sound producing device in such a way that it is plainly audible 100 feet or more from the source. This doesn’t mean that if a musician can be heard 101 feet away the police will come along and ticket them. It does set a standard, however, which the police can enforce if they receive a complaint from someone that a musician is playing too loud and it bothers them. The maximum penalty for this crime is six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.
  • The police have agreed to try to resolve any disputes between musicians and their neighbors without arresting anyone. The key is that everyone behaves reasonably and tries to get along and that you, the musician, not play your music too loud.

The Downtown retail, residential and office community have agreed:

  • Not to interrupt a musician in the middle of a number if for some reason someone needs to speak to him/her.
  • To be professional, courteous and not resort to threats or intimidation if someone needs to speak with a street musician.
  • In the event of a dispute, to abide by the decision of the police or a volunteer mediator appointed as a result of this agreement.

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