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The Street Musician with the Lexus
While reality tells us that street musicians often are not the wealthiest people in the world, Sims in The Sims 3 can make a decent living from their guitar. Once a Sim gains level 5 in the Guitar skill, he or she will be capable of playing for tips. This will cause the crowd of Sims which often surrounds a Sim playing a guitar to show their appreciation with some not-insubstantial donations.
These tips are good enough that a Sim can make a living from them, but the amount of cash earned can vary due to a few different factors. The difference between a starving artist and a rock star isn't necessarily one of skill, but rather one of business savvy.
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A Natural Advantage
When making or raising a Sim who will be earning there living through tips it is beneficial to choose traits that will help with this quest. The following traits are good choices for making the life of your street musician a bit easier.
Artistic - The Artistic trait allows a Sim to learn to play guitar faster. The benefit of this is fairly straightforward. The quicker a Sim learns, the quicker he or she will be earning tips and learning new tunes to play.
Charismatic - This does not relate directly to money earned from tips, but it makes people even happier than normal while a Sim is playing. It works well with Party Animal when using the create-your-own concert strategy of inviting a bunch of friends to a location and playing for them.
Loves the Outdoors - Playing for tips means being outdoors. This gives a mood bonus for being outdoors, making the life of your Sim a better easier.
Party Animal - Parties are great places to play for tips. In a way they are like a personal concert for a street musician. Party Animal will make sure everyone is happy at the party. They'll stay longer and thus more tips will be earned.
Virtuoso - This one is pretty obvious. It gives bonuses to the rate of learning the Guitar skill and increases the value of tips earned.
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A Well Traveled Road
In order to earn tips, a musician needs an audience. While a musician can potentially set up anywhere, earning the big bucks is all about location. There are several things in the game, including certain achievements, which imply that the park is the place a Sim should set up shop. Many players direct their Sim to the nearest park for this reason.
The problem with that is that parks are actually rather vacant. A much better place to play is in front of a store. The bookstore, for example, is an awesome place to play. This is because Sims continually pass by at all hours of day. Many of those Sims will stop at least for awhile to hear what your Sim is playing. Even Sim who just reached level 5 in the Guitar skill can earn 400 or 500 bucks for eight hours of play.
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One great way to earn a lot of tips is to invite a lot of people to a party at some location - a park works fine - and then play for tips at the party. As mentioned, the Charismatic and Party Animal traits are great for a street musician and it is precisely because of this strategy. Even standing in front of a bookstore often results in a crowd of only three or four people, but you can snag twice as many in this way. This means twice the tips.
This strategy works best with Party Animal and Charismatic because the two build on each other. One benefit of the Party Animal trait is that Sims invited to a party always show up. The Charismatic trait makes those Sims friends even quicker than normal, both on the street and at events. This means a larger and larger pool of Sims to invite over.
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The Greedy Rockstar
If a Sim becomes a Rockstar by getting to the top of the music career that Sim will have the chance to play at their own concerts. Obviously such events are extremely good at reeling in all sorts of Sims. They also earn the Rockstar plenty of money. But don't just stop at the concert. The Sim already has a captive audience - see where I'm going with this?
Of course, a Sim can't play for tips during the actual concert. But afterwards it's fair game. Playing for tips immediately after the concert will hook a lot of the people who were already at the concert and will create a great deal of extra income. It may seem greedy, but think of it like a concert after-party. Your fans are getting the chance to see you play up close and unplugged!
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What to Expect
These three strategies are the most effective ways to use the Guitar skill to pay the bills. The amount of money one can expect to make will of course depend a lot on the amount of time a Sim spends playing. The street musician is a freelancer who does not have to go into work at regular hours, so to a certain extent the amount of income available is not fixed. Want to spend more time socializing? Build a basic home and play less. Want to buy a Sim a nice new car? Go play some 12-hour days.
This said, a Sim who plays for a full eight hours can expect to earn up to 2,000 bucks for their efforts. This is not always going to happen, but it will become more and more consistent as the Sim becomes better. Once a Sim has the Rockstar option to play a concert they are basically made of solid gold. Of course, money is probably not a problem for any Sim at that point.
In any case, being a street musician is 100% capable of supporting a Sim family. Even 500 bucks a day is enough to support a family of four in a modest home. So get out there and get playing!