The auditions are open for everyone, there are absolutely no restrictions on what you do and the main prize is the chance to play to one of the most critical audiences ever assembled...the New York subway rider.
The contest starts in January when musicians can start sending in resumes and sample recordings. This year 68 were chosen to come and audition for the judges. (The judges are 20 men and women made up of professionals of the music industry, fellow musicians and MTA workers.) Each act gets about five minutes to do their thing then about 20 new acts are chosen to play selected stations with about 25 other seasoned acts.
There are no paychecks for those street performers, but the chance of discovery is very very high. Over 5 million commuters ride the trains each week, and all it takes is one person to hear a talent and launch a career. Those are not bad odds.
I think this is a great system for the MTA that decided to do something about all the musicians who were cluttering up the subways in the early 1980s. This gives them a fair shot to make it, it doesn't just kick them out, it appreciates them gives them permits and places to play.
Check it out: