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Last Updated: Monday, 19 May, 2003, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Tube buskers go legal
Busker Justin Manser at the busking launch at Canary Wharf station
Busker Justin Manser played for commuters at the scheme's launch
London Underground's first legal buskers are bringing the sound of music to commuters from Monday.

A select group of 256 artists have passed auditions from several hundred applicants to obtain performance licences for a 16-week trial scheme.

Classical violinists and singers will join a blues guitarist, an accordionist and even a didgeridoo master to cheer weary travellers.

The bylaw banning buskers was changed after 80% of passengers questioned by LU said they liked live music as they waited.

We'll be listening to some great music from some of Britain's best buskers
Mike Brown, London Underground

It brings London in line with cities such as Paris and New York where buskers can perform without fear of arrest.

The artists include professional musicians, part-time film extras, students and experienced buskers.

They will perform a number of three-hour slots each week, rotating around 25 pitches at 12 stations.

Venues include Leicester Square, Charing Cross and Oxford Circus.

Most buskers are a pleasant diversion. The quality's OK and a bit of variety is good
Dr David Thompson, commuter
Former buskers Turin Brakes - now a critically and commercially successful band - played at the launch of the trial at Canary Wharf station on Monday.

Musicians will have to abide by strict rules, including a restriction on the size of their support.

If a crowd begins to form, they must stop and wait for it to disperse.

The trial is sponsored by drinks firm Carling, but in traditional style the buskers will have to rely on the public for their wages.
Badly Drawn Boy, aka Damon Gough
Singer Badly Drawn Boy made less than 5 from a day's busking

The sponsorship cash covers only the scheme's management and recruitment costs.

Mike Brown, LU's stations director, said: "We'll be listening to some great music from some of Britain's best buskers."

Commuters at Canary Wharf seemed pleased with the idea.

Dr David Thompson, 54, a management consultant, said: "Most buskers are a pleasant diversion. The quality's OK and a bit of variety is good."

Lawyer Margot Jensen, 31, added: "I think busking's fun. People can choose to give money if they want to."

But not every artist - no matter how well-known - can expect to get rich from their endeavours.

Singer-songwriter Badly Drawn Boy, who won the Mercury Music Prize in 2000, made just 4.90 from a day's busking in London.

Busker Hanger Lane
singing The Verve's The Drugs Don't Work

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