Buskers to return to Paris Metro after more than a year

Buskers to return to Paris Metro after more than a year
Emji, winner of the Nouvelle Star TV show, performs in the Metro in 2016. Photo: FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP.
Foreign languages, clinking glasses, harried waiters... The familiar sounds of Paris are back and soon another note will be added - buskers in the Metro.

Musicians will be allowed to perform in Paris Metro stations for the first time in over a year, from Wednesday, June 30th, as France continues to re-open its cultural sector.

While some continued to play, the practice has officially been banned since the beginning of the health crisis in March 2020. Performers will now have the chance to play in front of an audience once again, as long as they follow health guidelines, including wearing a mask.

“The return of artistic activities with the ‘Metro Musicians’ is excellent news for them, but also and above all for our passengers. It’s a breath of fresh air after more than a year of restrictions,” said Stella Sainson, in charge of the programme.

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Musical acts in the Paris transportation system are tightly regulated by the ‘Metro Musicians’ label created in 1997, run by the RATP transport authority. Before the health crisis, 300 artists would be selected twice a year, following auditions. Only those who are chosen are legally allowed to perform in Metro and RER stations.

They are not allowed to play on platforms on on trains, which tend to be the preserve of unlicensed performers.

The RATP said it had kept in touch with its performers throughout the pandemic.

“During this period, we haven’t held back in our efforts to accompany and support them in every way, particularly thanks to social media. There, we have shared extracts of their music and organised live videos,” Sainson said.

A number of well-known musicians started off performing in the Paris metro, including the American singer Ben Harper, and the Nigerian singer-songwriter Keziah Jones.


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