Wuilly Arteaga is a Venezuelan violinist who plays throughout NYC. Here, he performs before a crowd of LIRR commuters in Penn Station.

Question: ‘What’s with all the buskers in the subways who can’t play music?’

— Juilliard Bound in Jamaica, Queens

Dear Julliard:

Everybody’s a critic!

Street and subway musicians are as much a part of New York life as hot dog vendors. Would you really want to live here without them? Of course not.

So what’s it to you if you have to put up with a few sour notes along the way? Most of the music you hear — most, not all — is pretty good, and some of it is outstanding. Like Wuilly Arteaga, the young Venezuelan violinist who plays in Penn Station and Times Square (video below). Or R&B diva Alice Tan Ridley, whose album cover features her on the B and C uptown platform in the 86th Street Station. Or Michael “Bongo” Taliaferro, who plays the African djembe on the L train and beyond.

And don’t forget the musical saw lady.

The city’s real underground music scene is actually quite an operation, ranging from down-and-out hustlers trying to make a buck to accomplished artists with significant musical careers. There is even an official MTA MUSIC program that features dozens of artists playing throughout the vast subway system. They get the official MTA imprimatur by submitting an application and then auditioning.

It’s a good show, too. Each May, 60 to 80 acts gather for a daylong music festival in Grand Central. Twenty or so will be selected to join the 350 already approved acts. Anyone can drop by to listen during the auditions. (The MTA accepts submissions for consideration during the first three months of the year. This year’s deadline is March 21.)

If you aren’t part of the official program, no worries. As long as the music isn’t too loud or no one is interfering with the people or trains, no official is likely to stop any performer who wants to set themselves up in a station or on a platform.

It’s a city of dreams. Just because you may never make it on Broadway doesn’t mean you can’t make it underneath Broadway.

David Crook is a veteran journalist and author of The Complete Wall Street Journal Real-Estate Investing and Homeowner’s Guidebooks. Do you have a question about anything real estate-related in NYC? Write him at askus@streeteasy.com. For verification purposes, please include your name and a phone number; neither will be published. Note: Nothing in this column should be considered professional legal advice. If you have a legal issue, consult an attorney.

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