Anecdotal evidence suggests that transit police have been cracking down on musicians and other performers busking in the subway system—even though the MTA's own rules permit low-volume performance under certain conditions. A number of musicians and a busker advocacy group tell amNY that "police harassment has grown to disturbing levels in recent months."

An NYPD spokesman claims they're not "going after" musicians, but some performers believe the NYPD issued a memo last year that instructed officers to ticket any artist not affiliated with Music Under New York, which provides designated subways spots for 100 participating artists. (The highly-coveted MUNY permits are allocated during a competitive yearly audition at Grand Central Terminal.) Ron Wingate, 43, a guitarist who has performed in the subways for eight years, says, "It’s a blitz. I’ve been written up in so many ways."

Steve Zeitlin, the executive director of City Lore, surveyed subway performers and found that "even Kora players and mimes complained of being harassed. It’s a matter of confusing street performers with other quality-of-life enhancements." Depending on the situation, tickets cost between $25 and $100, but are routinely dismissed. Often, transit police simply order the performer to stop without issuing a ticket, but even if there's no a fine, there's still a chilling effect on both subway performers' meager livelihood, and the city's vibrant character.