Elizabeth Line passengers from Woolwich and Abbey Wood could be hearing the sound of buskers in the future after Transport for London announced it would be opening pitches on the new network.
It is 20 years since busking was allowed on the Tube – it was illegal before then – and TfL is marking the anniversary with the first auditions for new performers since 2017.
Two new pitches have been set up at Bond Street Elizabeth Line station and TfL is looking into setting up pitches in other stations.
The auditions are managed and co-ordinated by Found in Music, a programme backed by City Hall. Musicians of all genres are invited to apply, with those on the shortlist invited to perform to a panel of musical experts and TfL operational staff in a busy station environment, where they will be judged on their technical ability and the audience’s response.
More than 200 musicians already have licences to perform on the Tube. TfL says it is looking for “buskers that reflect the sounds of London – from classical to world music; jazz to rap; bluegrass to opera”.
Lee Huxley, who has been busking on the Tube for 15 years, used to be a vocalist in a rock band but switched to busking to play his own original music. He said: ““Busking has changed my life for the better and one of the best decisions I ever made in my life was filling out that application form and passing my audition. Of you check out the talent on the Underground and add that to the vast community of young musicians frequenting open mic nights, you realise how much-untapped talent there is in the UK.”
Kate Jones, Found in Music’s programme director, said: “Found in Music is delighted to be working with TfL on the audition process. Busking has a key role to play in the music ecosystem and provides artists with a free, public stage to hone their skills whether on the street, at one of Busk in London’s high-profile locations or on the Underground.
“We are really looking forward to discovering new talent during the audition process.”
Justine Simons, the deputy mayor for culture, said: “I am delighted at the return of TfL’s busking auditions and the introduction of pitches to the Elizabeth Line. Busking is a thriving artform across our city and has brought TfL’s stations alive over the last 20 years. This competition provides musicians with a fantastic opportunity to show off their talents.”
More details about applying to become a busker can be found at foundinmusic.com.