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Arts For Transit: Music Under New York

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Unless you walk everywhere, I’m almost certain that you’ve come across a musician or two in the subway. In my quarter-century of existence, I’ve stumbled upon many of them performing on the platforms or mezzanines and up until recently I just assumed that these talented, unappreciated individuals just set up shop and started playing. Boy, was my face red when I found out that the MTA actually give these people a platform to perform (subway platform, but nonetheless a platform).

The MTA has actually been running the Music Under New York program since 1985. They currently have a list of 200 participants, including soloists and groups with up to 150 performances a week. Spread out over 25 locations in the city’s subwaysincluding the LIRR and Metro-North linesthere’s a strong possibility that that group or soloist you see on your way to school or work is a MUNY participant.

Every Spring, MUNY has auditions at the Grand Central Terminal to add new members to the roster. Once performers apply, they’re invited to the public, one-day only audition to perform a five minute set. There, the performer is judged by a panel based on “criteria of quality, variety, and appropriateness for the mass transit environment.” Once selected, the performers attend an orientation and are given they’re own personalized banner that they can display when they’re performing for us, the New York City commuters.


Check out for audition times and locations.

Photo Credit: Me

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Enrique Grijalva - Mr. Minimum Wage

Enrique Grijalva - Mr. Minimum Wage

My father came, my mother saw...and I conquered. I encourage children to do drugs, I buy alcohol for teenagers, and I drink beer with the homeless. In my spare time, I attend art galleries for the FREE booze while rubbing elbows with modish elephants. I also hammer six-inch nails into small penises. Stuart knighted me as Broke-Ass King of New York. You've been warned.


  1. Michelle
    January 12, 2012 at 8:21 am

    The musicians in the subway are amazing! I’ve seen the one in your photo (though a long time ago). My favorite is the ‘Saw Lady’ – have you seen her playing the saw at Union Square? This is her: I feel so lucky to be in NYC where I can see amazing musicians, live, for free (though I do give a donation in appreciation, of course).

    • Enrique Grijalva - Mr. Minimum Wage
      January 28, 2012 at 8:57 am

      Sorry that I responded so late. No, I haven’t had the chance to see the “Saw Lady” but I will definitely keep my eyes open. I try to keep my eyes open for musicians moreso than ever, though.