Free expression and the ability to make a living should be allowed to come together as they do with street performers, but not without limits. Licenses and permits should be required, though for a low fee (if not free), and certain strictures should be placed. Times and locations should be specified as performance spaces, since many people really do not want someone doing a three-hour heavy metal guitar solo outside their apartment window at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday when they have to be up for work at 6. Such limits would also give it a sense of order, so buskers and other performers do not fight over who has the right to be playing a certain area at a set time. Eliminating such issues should be the goal and extent of such regulation.
Cities should regulate street performers for multiple reasons. First, they can create blockages in the flow of people and traffic that can cause dangerous situations for cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. Further, street performers can become territorial and aggressive. City regulation, allowing for registration of performance area could eliminate these turf wards. It is not necessary, however, to regulate their incomes, that is their own responsibility as law abiding citizens.
No, cities should not regulate street performers. There are already laws in place to address issues that might be caused by street performers, such as if they are disturbing the peace, creating a public nuisance or intimidating people.
If they had to submit to government regulation, it would become less worthwhile for them to perform, so fewer would do so. People would lose out on the pleasure of music and other entertainment as they go about their day.
As long as street performers aren't causing harm, they should be left alone.
Being a former street performer, I can say that the whole idea behind it is freedom. People on the road with nothing but some food and a guitar. It is a way to make a buck so you can eat. Adding regulation to it would deter them from playing. I understand it gets crowded, but I think they are the symbol of the American dream. Sure no one really likes them, but they are free to do as they please, and its inspirational.