MTA MUSIC (Music Under New York) is one of the many visual and performing arts programs administered by MTA Arts & Design that enhances the transit environment for customers. MTA MUSIC began as a pilot program in 1985 and became an Arts & Design program in January 1987, with the enthusiastic support of the commuting public.
More than 350 individual performers and ensembles participate in over 12,000 annual performances in approximately 40 locations throughout the MTA's transit system. These performances encompass classical strings, jazz ensembles, world music bands, folk, a cappella groups, singer-songwriters, and more, featuring a wide range of instruments such as the Gambian kora, Korean drum, West Indian steel drums, Andean pipes, Cajun cello, Celtic and Baroque harps, guitars, violins, hammered dulcimers, and musical saws.
How the program works
To add new performers to the roster, MTA MUSIC holds an audition every year. The program seeks quality acts that speak to the diversity of the MTA’s customers. All submissions are welcome and considered for the live audition scheduled in the spring. Online applications are available in January. A panel of professionals — including representatives from the music industry, cultural institutions, station operations, and fellow musicians — judge each performance based on quality, variety, and appropriateness for the mass transit environment.
Performers accepted into the program attend an orientation meeting and receive information about the program, as well as briefings on passenger safety and comfort. Performers are also given personalized MTA MUSIC banners to display during scheduled performances.
MTA MUSIC locations are designated within transit facilities based on passenger flow and space appropriateness. New sites are adopted by Arts & Design in coordination with stations’ representatives and are monitored for passenger safety and comfort. Special events are presented to the public in celebration of holidays and noteworthy events such as World Music Festival, Jazz Festival, Women’s History Month, and other occasions.
See all of the locations where you will find MTA MUSIC (Music Under New York) performers in action.
Rules and regulations
For the fine print about performing in the transit system, read our Subway Performance Rules, which are drawn from the MTA Rules of Conduct, Section 1050.6 under 3.