MTA Auditions 82 Wannabe Subway Performers

May 16, 2018 Last Updated: May 16, 2018

Ever wondered how performers in New York City’s subway stations get their gigs?

Well, it’s not random or spontaneous. The MTA has a program called Music Under New York (MUNY) that includes about 350 performers in 30 spots around the subway system. 

The MTA Arts & Design department estimates it holds about 7,500 performances a year in the New York City transit system, and prides itself on the diversity of the performances, both in terms of genre (examples include fusion, alternative hip-hop, and beatbox) and culture (such as classical Chinese music, Irish folk, kora, mariachi, and aboriginal didgeridoo).

On Tuesday, May 15, it auditioned 82 musicians who were competing for about 20 spots.

“To actually be here with these other wonderful musicians, and get to watch how this process goes, I mean there’s nothing like it, you know?” said Lee England Jr., a MUNY contestant who plays violin. “I love New York for this man.”

Judges were looking at the appropriateness of the performance for the subway environment, the quality, and how much diversity the music would bring to its pool of performers. 

Each performer had 5 minutes to impress the judges.

“I take all the things that I do have and I just give it with all I have, with all my heart. And that’s the hope, is that I can bring joy with music,” said MUNY contestant Gio. 

This year, the MTA got 309 applications. The winners will be announced sometime in June.