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MTA Holds Tryouts For Subway Performers

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The MTA on Tuesday auditioned a new crop of performers to work underground. NY1's Tina Redwine filed the following report.

A total of 65 performers got onboard Tuesday, auditioning to be part of the MTA's official Music Under New York program.

Performers said it felt a bit like American Idol.

"I play all the time, but to come out in a venue out like this and see 20 judges out there waiting to see you audition. It was a little nervous at first," said Musician Don Service.

If they win, their audience will be 8.5 million daily riders.

"You never know who is out there watching or who's passing through, maybe taking a train somewhere. It might be that producer that I'm looking for," Service said.

But not everyone even wants fame.

"I'm interested in enjoying it. And if they give me money I'll probably connect with some charity," said Singer Dan Brody.

The agency says 250 performers sent in applications this year. Musicians who auditioned Tuesday are the semifinalists. And from the pool of performers, judges will choose 20 to 25 winners.

"We're looking for a variety of musicianship, of variety of types of music, for quality of musicianship and for musicians whose music really fits well into the subway environment," said MTA Arts for Transit Spokesperson Amy Hausmann.

The MTA says the winners will join 350 other authorized performers: All are unpaid.

"Musicians who play in the subway play for tips, they can put out a hat and they're able to collect tips as they go along. So we encourage everybody to show their gratitude and generosity," Hausmann said.

Musicians perform at 25 different stops throughout the system including Grand Central.

"Someone who will lift up the spirits of the commuters. That's why we are here. To be a blessing and to serve," said Longtime MTA Performer and Judge Arlethia Lindsey.

Winners will be announced in two weeks.

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