TTC subway musicians' auditions kick off tomorrow

TTC subway musicians' auditions kick off tomorrow

Media and the public are invited to attend as the TTC Subway Musicians' Auditions get under way tomorrow, August 21, with TTC Chair Josh Colle and CNE President Brian Ashton.

This year, 175 acts are scheduled to audition for one of 74 available licenses. A three-judge panel will assess each musician during a seven-minute audition.

Subway performers have been entertaining TTC customers for 35 years with a wide range of musical styles and instruments – everything from guitars to flutes, bassoons to violins to a didgeridoo.  Please see backgrounder below for more information.

The public is welcome to take a seat and enjoy the music as the auditions continue throughout the weekend (Friday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.).

What: 35th TTC Subway Musicians' Auditions official kick-off.
Who: TTC Chair Josh Colle and CNE President Brian Ashton.
Where: Exhibition Park, just outside the northwest corner of the Food Building.
When:   Friday, August 21, at 12:30 p.m. (auditions begin at 10 a.m.).


2015-2018 Subway Musicians Program


August 20, 2015


The TTC Subway Musicians Program enriches the atmosphere of TTC stations, brightening customers’ commutes and improving their overall transit experience.

The program began with an eight station pilot project in 1980, after which almost three-quarters of customers indicated that they wanted music in the system.

Every three years, up to 200 musicians audition before a panel of qualified judges for the chance to obtain one of 75 subway musician licences, which permit musicians to perform in 25 subway stations on a rotating basis.

Past subway musicians have included two Juno winners, Royal Conservatory of Music graduates, symphony performers and published musicians performing music from all over the world. Some of the current sounds include African, American, Celtic, Chinese, Jamaican, Japanese, Latin and Ukrainian music.

The Auditions

The 2015 auditions are being held August 21-23 at the Canadian National Exhibition just outside the west end of the Food Building.

Performers, who can appear solo or as a duo, must be at least 18-years-old.

Each audition is approximately seven minutes long and consists of a minimum of a three song medley.
Musicians are advised prior to auditions that the TTC reserves the right to limit or restrict the use of specific instruments. For example, trumpets, drums and certain electric guitars and basses are not permitted.

Audition judges are selected from a wide range of musical and performance arts backgrounds, as well as from technical and business areas of the entertainment industry. They include media celebrities, music educators and producers, talent booking agents, as well as representatives from the Royal Conservatory of Music, jazz and various folk festivals.

Judges score the auditions based on the following criteria:

Stage presence Musical or performance talent Entertainment value

Licences are issued to the top 74 highest scoring acts. Billy James, the TTC’s longest-standing subway musician, is granted an honourary licence, for a total of 75 licences issued.

Successful performers pay a licence fee of $197.75 (including HST), which partially covers the cost of administering the program. Licences are valid from October 8, 2015 to October 7, 2018.

In the event that a licensed performer withdraws from the program, the next highest scoring musician will take their place.
Performers play on a three-day rotating schedule at 25 subway stations designated as performance locations, which include:

Kipling, Islington, Royal York, Jane, Runnymede
Dundas West, Ossington, Spadina, Bay, Bloor-Yonge
Main, Warden, Wilson, Yorkdale, Queens Park
Osgoode, Union, King, Queen, Dundas
Eglinton, York Mills, Sheppard-Yonge, Finch, Don Mills

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Media Contact: Corporate Communications, 416-981-1900,

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