If you see buskers in tube stations being watched unusually attentively by a group of people, they could be auditioning to become one of TfL’s authorised buskers allowed to perform in their stations.

Previous audition (c) John Zammit / TfL

Around 280 musicians are performing over the next few weeks for a panel of judges at Bank, Blackfriars, Canary Wharf, Farringdon and Southwark stations, shortlisted from more than 450 applicants.

Each prospective busker is given a 10-minute slot to convince a panel, which includes a professional musician and station staff. The audition will assess each musician’s repertoire, musical ability, and performance styles.

The current round of auditions are the first that TfL has undertaken since the pandemic.

The auditions are now underway, with around 30 musicians to be put through their paces each day and the newly selected musicians will start appearing across TfL stations later in the spring and play at more than 40 pitches on the tube and Overground and for the first time the  Elizabeth line, including two pitches that opened at Bond Street station last year.

Twenty years ago, TfL introduced a licensed scheme to replace the ad-hok musician busking that used to take place, and since then, authorised spaces within stations have been set aside for musicians to use. Since it was introduced in 2003, over 200 registered buskers have passed the audition process.

Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, said: “Music is the beating heart of London and buskers bring our city to life everyday, making live music accessible to everyone. So I am delighted to see the return of TfL’s busking auditions. We know the important part music can play in people’s lives and the difference a song can make to our day. This is a fantastic opportunity for musicians to showcase their talents to Londoners and visitors, as we build a better London for all.”


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  1. Jon Jones says:

    I love hearing the sounds of the buskers as you walk around the underground. I wish there were more – but I do understand why TfL have to place restrictions on times & places.

    • Robert says:

      One reason is probably the passengers who take the opposite view and think it’s all noisy enough as it is!

    • Sarah says:

      Consider it a matter of accessibility. If you feel the need for music, you can bring your own device and earphones. On the other hand, people sensitive to sound can also be sensitive to pressure so earplugs etc. are not the solution. Passengers still need to hear announcements

  2. Gill Wing says:

    I was among the original buskers who auditioned back in the early 2000s – at the time, auditions were held on a disused platform at Charing Cross. My five-strong vocal harmony group performed to raise funds for charity, until 7/7 made being underground regularly for an extended period feel like a risk we shouldn’t take.
    Buskers are often professional musicians trying to supplement their income – the arts have seen savage cuts to funding in recent years, and the pandemic has further impacted those who make their living (and bring joy to the rest of us) through music. I always keep a handful of coins in my coat pocket to show my appreciation and respect for my fellow buskers.

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