‘Tip bomb’ flash mobs shower buskers with compliments (also money)

tip bombing
Some tippers, getting ready to unleash a money bomb on a subway busker. via Facebook

New York City is so tremendously competitive, even the street performers are have to jostle for a decent (and harassment-free) spot to set up and strum or drum or dance. Artists and performers in every genre who flock to NYC try starting with the subway as the place for their big break, to make their craft a career. Some of them actually do pretty well for themselves, but a group of young creatives who work in the advertising industry in Manhattan recently decided they wanted to help them do better and show their appreciation, with what they call a “tip bomb.

A relatively new idea (there’s only been one so far), the organizers of tip bombs get a group of people to collectively decide the next busker to support, then gather like a flash mob around the performer in the predetermined location. Creating an audience for said performer, they cheer them on, sometimes calling for encores, and after a non verbal cue they all tip simultaneously filling the performers hat with a wad of cash. We caught up with Vito Catalani, the mastermind behind this movement, and he gave us a little insight into what he hopes can become in his words a “cultural movement.”

Via email Catalani told us how he came up with the idea. “New Yorkers are always so busy that it’s hard to step back and really appreciate some great tunes,” so he and a few friends decided to slow it down and “show some appreciation for these individuals who contribute so much to the culture and vibe of New York City.”

They’ve only had one official Tip Bombing event thus far, but were able to assemble a pretty respectable crowd in a subway station and raise a collective tip of over 300 dollars. Catalani admitted “It’s not easy to choose [what performer to tip] with so many great artists populating the streets,” but they target the performer they “believe deserves the most recognition because of their talent, originality, uniqueness, and positive vibe they push out every day.”

The next Tip Bombing event is slated for tonight, Wednesday July 30, at a subway station near Times Square, which they are hopeful will have a turnout at least twice as big as the first one. For more info visit their Facebook page, which also showcases a video from the first bombing. Not only are they optimistic they can get more people to join them, but they are also promoting other groups of people to get out there and tip bomb on their own, since as Catalini told us, “The smallest compliment can brighten someone’s day, but what if you could give someone a thousand compliments at the same time?”

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