82 Finalists Invited to Audition to Join Music Under New York

Strap on your guitar, and straighten your hat. It's time to see what New York is made of.

For its 31st annual auditions, Music Under New York has invited 82 finalists to audition for a coveted spot on its roster of performers, an impressive list of musicians and groups who over the decades have been entertaining subway and commuter rail customers throughout the Metropolitan Transportation Authority service region with a soulful tune or a jazzy song at subway stations or rail terminals. This year, 309 applications were submitted and MTA Arts & Design, which adminsters Music Under New York as part of its public arts programming, plan to add approximately 20 performers.

“Music Under New York celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, and the application process is more competitive than ever. We’re excited to see how this year’s finalists will pour their hearts into performing for the judges and the public to secure a coveted spot in Music Under New York. New Yorkers are the greatest audience in the world, and NYC Subway offers a stage like no other,” said MTA Arts & Design Director Sandra Bloodworth.

The auditions are hosted at Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall and begin at 9 a.m. Each finalist, whether a group or a soloist, has five minutes to impress a panel of dozens of judges that include music industry professionals, members of city cultural institutions, current MTA MUSIC members, and MTA staff. They judge the finalists on criteria such as quality, appropriateness for the transit environment, musical variety and cultural diversity, with the goal of increasing the number of genres represented in the program. The public are welcome to stay and watch and cheer for their favorites or just enjoy some free music as they walk through Grand Central Terminal or enjoy a shopping or meal break there. 

Once accepted into the program, Music Under New York (MTA MUSIC) performers are hosted at approximately 30 high-traffic locations throughout the transit network, including MTA subway stations and commuter rail terminals. They can be spotted by a bold Music Under New York banner, which announces each act. As with all performers in the subway system, they must abide by MTA New York City Transit’s rules of conduct, which are enforced by the New York Police Department. The program presents more than 7,500 musical performances in the transit system every year, with schedules revised every two weeks.