The musicians who play in New York's subways are mostly professional, but there are also a few students.
Yes, you can tip the MUNY musicians. They deserve it!
Music Under New York
Music Under New York (MUNY) is one of many visual and performing arts programs administered by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Arts for Transit office that increase the attractiveness of transit facilities for customers. MUNY began as a pilot program in 1985 and became official in January 1987 with the receipt of a $75,000 grant from The General Electric Foundation. The program is now funded and directed by the MTA Arts for Transit office.
At present more than 100 individual performers and ensembles — ranging from classical to Cajun, bluegrass, African, South American and jazz — participate in over 150 weekly performances in approximately 25 locations throughout the transit system.
How the program works
Every year Music Under New York conducts a citywide outreach to all types of musicians and performers. In an effort to appeal to the MTA's entire ridership, the program seeks musicians who reflect the diversity of our customers. All submissions are welcome and considered for the auditions. A panel of professionals in the music industry judge the auditions, using the following criteria: quality, variety, and appropriateness for the mass transit environment.
Performers accepted into the program attend an orientation meeting where they are given materials explaining the regulations of the program, especially regarding passenger safety and comfort. Performers are also given a MUNY banner imprinted with their name and phone number and other materials such as t-shirts and buttons.
Performances are scheduled at locations in subway and commuter rail stations, including the Long Island Railroad and Metro North. Sites have been selected with the approval of their station managers, representatives from the police, NYCT stations and system safety departments. New sites adopted on an experimental basis are selected by the Arts for Transit staff, approved by the station manager, and monitored for passenger safety and comfort. Special events are presented to the public throughout the year to provide appealing entertainment for our customers. Events include day-long marathon concerts with special themes; festivals running on consecutive days; guest artists; special repertoires appropriate to a particular holiday or occasion; and more.
13 September 1985, New York Times, pg. A1:
The M.T.A. Presents: Music
To Soothe the Subway Rider
By ROBIN TONER
The entertainment was courtesy of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. At a news conference yesterday, to the soaring tones of Mouret and other composers, M.T.A. officials announced that eight subway stations would become makeshift concert halls this fall under a program called "Music Under New York."
27 May 1987, New York Times, pg. B1:
How Do You Get
To the Subways?
New York City • Music/Dance/Theatre/Film • (1) Comments • Wednesday, May 18, 2005 • Permalink
If you want to know what it’s like being one of the Music Under New York musicians: http://www.sawlady.com/blog tells what happens when the ‘Saw Lady’ plays in the subway