MTA holds first post-COVID auditions for subway musicians

For the first time since 2019, a panel of judges sat and listened to dozens of musicians all hoping to get a coveted place as part of New York’s underground music scene—the literal underground music scene.

Officials from MTA Arts and Design received 128 applications and narrowed those down to 46 who auditioned Wednesday for a spot in the city’s Music Under New York program. About 25 will be chosen later this summer.

"Fingers crossed," said singer Von Middleton. "Hopefully the judges, ya know, felt my heart."

Middleton—a Brooklyn native who’s auditioned twice before—is hoping the third time’s the charm.

"I love performing. This is what I do. I live on the stage; the stage is home. It’s a dream come true to have this opportunity," he said. 

Performing for tips, or busking, has long brightened the commutes of the city’s straphangers. The Music Under New York program is now in its 33rd year. It currently boasts a roster of about 350 music acts.

"I always like to be calmed down when I’m using the subway actually… And it’s really nice to hear a pretty melody and someone kind of on a different wavelength to remind me there’s something other than craziness out there," said musician Grant Swift.

Performers will find out if they made the cut later this summer.


With feds' blessing, governor presses ahead with congestion pricing

U.S. Transportation officials have given the go-ahead for a still undetermined toll to drivers who enter Manhattan south of 60th Street.