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Subject: Moscow metro buskers to face celebrity jury

Written By: Philip Eno on 03/03/16 at 3:35 am

Anyone wanting to busk in Moscow's underground system will have to impress a panel of celebrity judges in future.

Moscow Metro has decided to formalise busking for the first time by creating 15 designated, bookable spaces at stations across the capital's huge network, the Tass news agency reports. But anyone hoping to bag a spot will first need to pass muster with a jury of Russian music stars. Among those choosing the sound of the underground are members of the kitsch Russian rock outfit Gorky Park and the boy band Chelsea, along with a winner of Russia's version of TV talent show The Voice. Until now, musicians found playing in the tunnels were escorted out by police or security guards.

The first 400 applicants will be invited to audition in person, and half will be chosen to entertain the crowds. Officials have taken inspiration from underground busking rules in other major tourist hubs including London, where auditions are now judged by a panel including music industry experts. Moscow has one of the busiest metro systems in the world, serving about seven million people each day, and authorities say busking won't be allowed during the morning and evening rush hours.

The new initiative comes after police last year began cracking down on performers who had long entertained passers-by on the major Arbat thoroughfare and other central streets. Some musicians carried out a silent flash mob protest, taping their mouths shut and sticking duct tape over their instruments.

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