Welcome!

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

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 celebrate 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.

19 thoughts on “Welcome!

  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!!!

  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 :)

    • 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.

      • Just wanted to let you know it is actually a violation of immigration law to earn money while here on a tourist visa (Yea, even money thrown into a guitar case!) I know firsthand from getting stopped at Border Control with guitar and nearly sent back on the next flight. Most cops won’t know about that one, but still is an added risk when defending yourself.

  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!

  7. You Have the Right NOT to Remain Silent
    NYC Busker Ball 8 Takes on Police Crackdown on Street Performers
    October 16th
    Buskers Rally & Rock Spike Hill

    NEW YORK CITY – The next NYC Busker Ball is taking a stand on the current, and unlawful, police crackdown on busking within and above the New York City subway system with a protest party on October 16.

    “We’re rallying and issuing a call for action in defense of our 1st Amendment rights,” said Theo Eastwind, organizer of the event. “The cops have been out of control as of late with their increased and unjust harassment of New York City public performers. With our next NYC Busker Ball 8 event at the club Spike Hill in Williamsburg Brooklyn we promise to be about more than just music and good times; we plan to shine a light on what’s been going on above and underground to our busking brothers and sisters at the hands of local law enforcement. The unfair ticketing and illegal arrests have to stop!”

    A super secret surprise guest gets it going at 7:30 p.m. and is followed by Congolese subway songstress Grace Kalambay at 8:15 p.m., Theo Eastwind at 9:00 p.m., then experimental cellist and prison reform activist Jacob Cohen at 9:45 p.m., the underground guerrilla music project named Bandits on the Run hits the stage at 10:30 p.m. and The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn bring it all home at 11:15 p.m.

    Busker Ball 8 takes place on October 16 at Spike Hill (184-186 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn). Convenient transportation to the event is available by taking the L train to Bedford Avenue or the G to Metropolitan Avenue. The suggested donation for the show is $10. Doors open at 7 p.m. and more information about the NCY Busker Ball 8 party is available at: https://www.facebook.com/nycbuskerball

    This is more than just a fun fight for your rights party, it’s a call to action to other musicians, the general public and members of the media to stand up, come together and demand justice for all. These are our rights, and if we fail to use them then we’re going to lose them.

    Media Contact:
    Stevie B
    Mia Mind Music
    Phone: 800-843-8575
    Email: info@miamindmusic.com

  8. Thanks for what you did at the Metropolitan subway stop yesterday!
    Please inform me about other events and protests-if I can be of help to your organization please let me know.
    Gary .Harmonica,juggling

  9. I think a Clear to the point Fact Sheet explaining the LAW concerning subway (and other) -performing could be given to the performers to let the Public and Police Officers know the Rules.
    Information is Key to winning this battle of the Minds.

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