BuskNY is a New York City-based subway arts advocacy group.

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Though artistic performance in the New York subway system has been permitted since 1985, performers are still being wrongfully arrested, ticketed, and ejected from stations on a daily basis. We think it’s time for that to stop.

We believe in a New York where public performance is a vibrant and celebrated part of artistic life.

Ending wrongful arrest is not easy. It requires providing accurate information about the legality of subway performance to MTA officials, NYPD officers, and to every subway rider; assisting subway performers in advocating for themselves when their rights are violated; and promoting, organizing, and curating events and exhibitions that celebrity the diversity and the excellence of New York City’s subway art.

Check out our about page and blog to find out how we’re doing that. You can connect with us on Facebook, and by email at info@buskny.com.


  1. Hey, my name is Joseph Hall But I’m well Known from My Dance Name “J black ” & I’m A Subway Performer. In The Video Link Above Im The Guy In The Cover Hanging from The pole, But Anyways Me & My Friends Who Has A Team Called W.A.F.F.L.E Which Stands For “We Are Family For Life Entertainment” Have Been Doing This For A Couple Of Years & Have Done a lot Such As Television , Documents & Etc. today I Was With One Of My Friends & A Guy Told Me About This Website , To Contact It & So I Did .

  2. Hi Joseph — thanks for getting in touch! This is a good time to connect, because the new Police Commissioner has been cracking down on subway performers intensively this spring. Can you send us an email (buskny@gmail.com) so we can communicate directly? Thanks.

  3. Thanks to the guy who interrupted. I wish I had gotten your name! While I was busking at 42nd street mezzanine an officer approached and asked for my permit. I replied that I didn’t have one. He responded by telling me that the spot was reserved for MUNY members only or I had to have a permit to continue. Meanwhile a guy approached to let me know about this site and suggested that I check it out and know my rights. I’m so glad he did. Now I feel more confident to share my talents legally on the mezzanines with a moderate sound device. I’m going to carry with me a copy of my rights just in case next time! Thanks!!!

    1. Great, Henyo! Glad to hear that someone interceded on the grassroots level. It’s particularly wise to carry a copy of the MTA Rules for next time. There are official copies — glossy and blue — available at the Transit Adjudication Bureau, and you can also drop us an email if you’d like to have a copy mailed to you directly.

  4. Matthew, Larry here, The World’s Most Dangerous Bass Player, lol! It was a pleasure to meet you at Busker Ball7 and I look forward to performing again at Busker Ball8. I have a somewhat different situation as I perform on the streets and in the subway with an amplifier. I feel very fortunate that I haven’t been ticketed above ground in years, and when I have been, they are always dismissed. I never got a permit for using the amp because at first when I legitimately tried, I got so much run around, and then when I found out the cost, at the time, for the money I made busking, it seriously would not have been cost effective to get the permit. I would basically be paying to make $5 or $10 after the cost of the permit. Underground, cops just usually tell me to move along and only if a token booth clerk calls them complaining. I got 4 tickets underground in the 13 years I’ve been busking; 3 from the same rookie at the same spot, (I guess he was just trying to easily fill his quota and make points with his superiors) and one from a lieutenant with a different rookie who told me he was on his way to handle a complaint about a bucket drummer at 1st Ave. and he just happened to see me at Union Sq. The look on the rookie’s face actually made me feel sorry for him because I could see he did not want to do this. “Ticketing a musician when there is probably a real crime going on not too far from here.” Any way, I just want you to know I think it’s a great thing you’re doing for your fellow artists and performers and if I can be of help in any way, if it is in my means I will, just let me know.

  5. Hi, I’m glad to have found this site while researching the legalities of busking in ny! I’m new to the city, am a singer/violist and usually love getting out onto the streets wherever I go to pay some tunes. I’m tentative about playing in ny because I’m on a visitor visa and don’t want to risk any kind of arrest that might jeopardise my stay here!

    Is it worth it? If so where’s a good place to start? Do I need to apply for a permit or is it possible to just get my hands on the MTA rules and head out?

    Many thanks :)

    1. Hi Anni. Great that you’re looking into performing. There is no permit required to perform in the NYC subway. In fact, no performance permit exists — you may have confused that with the Music Under New York program, which is often mistaken for a permit.

      We strongly encourage you to go out performing, and we are happy to mail you an official copy of the MTA rules. Drop us a line at info (at) buskny (dot) com and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

  6. hey Matthew, I’m so glad I found you! We need your help so much! I have a trial date coming up on the 7th of October and it’s so good to know that I have support from people and organizations like this one! Thanks again!

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